Tuesday, December 06, 2005

all the girls are reading Anna Karenina

When I was in NY this summer, all the girls were asking me if I had read Anna Karenina. Well, two to to be exact, two very different girls. It struck me as odd at the time, since why was now the time to read Anna Karenina? As far as I am concerned it is always time to read Anna Karenina. Certain scenes are so evocative (Karenin in the restaurant, Anna longing for her kids, the races) that you can read them and be absolutely certain that a very particular mood will be produced and so when I want that mood, I start reading.

Come to find out, via David Remnick's Translation Wars in the November 7 issue of the New Yorker, Anna Karenina, in a new translation, was an Oprah book. God love Oprah. An inspiration to girls in New York looking for something meaningful to do with their time. And I get another reason to read it, because this new P/V translation seems like a dandy.

I liked Remnick's essay, which sepoy recommended, except for the Nabokov-Wilson interlude. Our brief comments are here. If one more person informs me that Nabokov was a l--------ist I will scream. I hate tired shit. What was really odd was how all these paragraphs sounded like maybe they were just left over material from the Louis Menand essay on Edmund Wilson. Given the way material seems to become a little generic at The New Yorker (see my "overheards" here and here) the familiarity of this Wilson stuff suggests that maybe there are just anonymous paragraphs about American Modernism floating around the office there for anyone to cut and paste. Which seems a little more pomo dada (post)industrialized production than I usually think of The New Yorker as being.

My partner in crime suspects that Seymour Hersh is not an individual, but rather a group project. Which I'm sure is true on some level. More smart remarks from my partner in crime - "What is with this New Yorker transportation series trying to tell us - the longest train, the biggest big rig . . . What is next? An essay on rockets?" Heh heh.

And back to the Russians, I use War and Peace and Anna Karenina when I teach film, too, to explain narrative theory and theory of the novel and concepts from Russian formalism and how this kind of analysis might work in different media.

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