Monday, November 4, 2013

Learning from Russia

I have to confess my love of Russian writers - particularly Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. My favorite Russian novels are Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment, although War and Peace is quite amazing too. Why are these my favorites? Well, some of it may have to do with first reading them in high school when I was full of teenage angst and found myself within the deep emotional angst of the characters. It was also a time when I was making decisions and choices that could alter my future course significantly and it helped to see the ultimate destination of the characters' particular choices, both good and bad. I must confess though that even as an adult I still refer to these novels and use them in teachable moments with well…just about everyone who is willing to listen!

I would like to meet the person who isn't affected by the parallel stories of Anna Karenina and Konstantin Levin. Anna - beautiful, intelligent, extraordinary - but choice after choice after choice leads to destruction. Levin - ordinary and a bit of an outsider - but his choices lead to prospering and love. Or who isn't anguished along with Rodion Raskolnikov as he withers, morally and physically, because of his choice. The Russian writers seem to grab a hold of human emotion and character and ream everything from them. They create characters whose depths no know bounds. They also speak to social conditions and how they can alter choices and lives simply by existing. The plight of women, poverty, war, etc. affect and alter lives. Each one of us live in a real world with social situations that exist, whether positive or negative, that, when combined with our person - character, moral bearing, beliefs, etc. - create our scenario. This is what I love about Russian writers: they write about life with depth and emotion.

I encourage you to grab one of these novels and enjoy! I hope you too will see yourself in the novel and learn something new.

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