january 25th

Hello.

My name is Marina, and I suppose this will be my first ‘blog’ since the early days of Xanga. I’m currently a student at Sarah Lawrence College, and since it is one of those liberal art schools, we get to pick our classes for the semester during our first week back from break. And instead of registering online, like a normal college, we all get to run around campus, sign up for interviews with teachers, and then spend the rest of the day running all the way back to all those doors and sign-up sheets you scribbled your name on. And when I say interview, I don’t mean that the teachers interview us in an attempt to see if we would fit in the class. Oh no. Instead we are the ones who ask the teachers questions and get all the information that we need about the class. It’s ridiculous and tiring, but honestly it is one of the best ways to pick classes, and despite the outrageously long line we have to wait in so that someone at a computer can put our class picks into the system, I still prefer it to any other method of picking a course.

This semester I only had to replace one class and I was able to sign up for a history course titled ‘In Tolstoy’s Time’. I’ve always been an avid reader, and during my sophomore year at Sarah Lawrence I fell in love with Tolstoy, so when I saw an entire course devoted to him, of course I could do nothing but hope that I got into the course (which I did!). We’re starting off the class with War and Peace, which I haven’t read in two years and I honestly do not even know if it will even be the same book. First time around, I fell in love with Andrei and ended up finishing the novel in a single fifteen hour sitting–it would’ve been impossible for me to put the book down and leave the world of the novel before it had come to fruition on its own. I could not get enough of Andrei’s individuation–ended up writing a conference paper over fifty pages about how Andrei could not exist in this world because he lived for absolutes and in the ‘real’ world, it cannot be all or nothing; a man like Andrei cannot happily exist (similar to how Anna Karenina cannot exist in the world either). But since then, my own mentality has moved away from all or nothing, so I’m wondering if I’ll still love Andrei the way I did when he first appeared in less than fifty pages, with his hawk-like gaze scanning the room and always finding little to amuse himself. Maybe now he’ll just seem annoying and arrogant. This time around I have to read the Maude translation (I used the Peaver the first time) so maybe the discrepancies in the text will change things as well. It’s difficult to say, especially since I am unable to read War and Peace in the original Russian. We’re reading Anna Karenina as well and I’m equally concerned about my love for Anna. A teacher of mine told me that when he was in college and he read Anna Karenina, he was in love with Anna and always wanted her on the scene. But as he grew older, had a family, experienced life, he found himself moving away from Anna’s story and falling in love with Levin’s story–the mowing, the scene with him and Laska. Everything about Levin screams life, even the moment when he is contemplating his own death.

Every rereading of a book creates a new text. The book itself will sit there and stay the same, but it is always on the part of the reader to put those words together and pull out a thought.

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2 thoughts on “january 25th”

    1. I actually was talking about that second article the other day with my parents, who both speak and read Russian, and we looked at that first line of Anna Karenina together. This is the interesting thing about language. The word that translators swap between “resemble” and “are alike” simultaneously means both in Russian. In English however, we have a discrepancy between “to resemble”, “to look like”, and “to be alike”, which points to specific differences in what we mean, while the Russian allows for multiple possibilities in one word.

      It’s funny because one wouldn’t initially think of “resemblance” and “being alike” as having much of a difference, but the essence of what one means (I use essence because of it’s significance in this specific example) is represented through the specific language one uses. You can put happy families next to each other in a police line up and one could underline the resemblance, but I don’t think you could say that they are all alike (this is why I’m a particular fan of the Maude translation of Anna, because of its usage of “resemble” rather than “are alike”). Resemblance allows for a sense of action, of movement, while “being alike” implies a sense of passivity, of mere appearance.

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