It took me 3-4 months to finish reading Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. (It feels somewhat formal to say Leo Tolstoy than just Tolstoy).
I have always felt that Russian authors write the deepest into a human mind. Human mind at its natural best, and worst. Human mind as how we humans most times do not want to accept it. Tolstoy surpassed all my existing opinion of Russian authors. In this single book, (oh yes but its a huuuuge book), he has explored every single human emotion, every single weakness a person can develop and the minutest character detail the God above has conjured up for humans.
There are various authors who delve that deep into human beings. Invariably in most of their books, you tend to know at the end of the book the distinct characteristics of the author himself (/herself) and the strong preferences and advocacies of the author. After going through the lives of the multiple central characters in Anna Karenina, I found it difficult to frame an opinion on Tolstoy. It was difficult, atleast for me, to imagine what Tolstoy was like. So deep does he go into the minds of so many numerous characters that its hard to tell. This is my striking takeaway from the book. Tolstoy’s brilliance lies in here. I am pretty certain he could not have identified, at the level he goes to in the narration, with each of these personalities that make up his book. The characters are all so intricately thought about and written about in Anna Karenina. They are all extremely real. Very real are their wants, their outlooks and just about everything about them.
Tolstoy probably borrowed a little from every person he ever met and then some bit of himself. It may have been a tad bit intimidating to be a friend of Tolstoy’s then, don’t you think? That is, if he ever let it slip that he is using this interaction with you for decorating his creativity. To think that every emotion or every word you express or say is being weighed and is being used to judge mankind and to build a fictional character that will form part of literary history. At the same time, I wonder if a person such as Tolstoy who has proved to be able to go into the deepest corners of a human mind, himself may not be a bit of it all. A multi-dimensional personality and I don’t mean that in a good way. One cannot write so true to reality unless one experienced it as one’s reality. If you were a mere observer and grasped the intricacies, is it possible to shed the experiences without being affected? If you were an observer and an unaffected one at that, can you translate it into a piece of literary masterpiece? I think not. I wonder if there are some great books written on Tolstoy himself. Its one of those books that made me think about the author as much as his characters.