Home > Book Thoughts, Literature, Musings, Writing > Living Outside the Reflections of Other Lives

Living Outside the Reflections of Other Lives

I continue to read Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, a translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, albeit slowly. While I read, I mark pages with quotes that catch my interest in some way. This week, I have a couple to share.

When he saw it all, he was overcome by a momentary doubt of the possibility of setting up that new life he had dreamed of on the way. All these traces of his life seemed to seize hold of him and say to him: ‘No, you won’t escape us and be different, you’ll be the same as you were: with doubts, an eternal dissatisfaction with yourself, vain attempts to improve, and failures, and an eternal expectation of the happiness that his eluded you and is not possible for you.’

But that was how his things talked, while another voice in his soul said that he must not submit to his past and that it was possible to do anything with oneself.

I don’t think this quote needs any commentary, and it appears that it could fit most people’s lives. However, the reason it touched me in such a way is because I have been having doubts about the life I want: the job search has been slow, although it has made progress, see my previous post; I’ve been grappling with what would happen when I do get a job, would I have time for reading, writing, blogging, adventuring?; and the biggest doubt of all, can I obtain a life I am truly pleased with? Like the quote, these questions are raised by one voice inside me, and the other proclaims, often, that I CAN do this, I can have a job and have time to read, write, think, blog, and explore life. Most days, this voice wins, but sometimes, the other voice can be quite loud.

It’s okay, in my mind, to have both voices: the negative and the positive. Sometimes they both have something really important to say, something worth hearing out. I guess I just need to focus on listening to one of the other more.

The next quote is a nice description of reading:

She wanted too much to live herself. When she read about the heroine of the novel taking care of a sick man, she wanted to walk with inaudible steps round the sick man’s room; when she read about a Member of Parlaiment making a speech, she wanted to make that speech; when she read about how Lady Mary rode to hounds, teasing her sister-in-law and surprising everyone with her courage, she wanted to do it herself. But there was nothing to do, and so…she forced herself to read.

The quote does not give the passage justice as the point of the passage is to show the characters inability to read because she is following “the reflection of other people’s lives” rather than living her own. But, as an avid reader, I understand this feeling since I have felt it on occasion, especially when I have had too much on my mind. Does anyone else experience this?

There are many nicely-translated and thought-provoking passages in the novel and I will continue to throw a couple up here now and then when I have time and if the marked passages still evoke something within me when I re-read them a second time.

I have heard of people keeping quote journals. I wonder if anyone really does that? And if so, is it nice to leaf back through them later?

  1. June 25, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Thanks for posting. The book’s present in my mom’s library, I’ll be sure to read it!

    • June 25, 2012 at 12:30 PM

      After reading your most recent post, I think you might find some nice words scattered about (if you read the translation I am using, at least). I’ve come across a few interesting words that I have never thought to use before!

      Thanks for commenting!

      • June 25, 2012 at 12:48 PM

        Your most welcome and thanks for the tip! Do give my post about Wodehouse a read too. Great and informative post!

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