On Rereading Anna Karenina

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I fulfilled my goal of finishing my revision of The Jane Austen Project — a crucial reason for my silence here. That was back in September, or maybe October, depending on how one defines “finish” and “revision,” but now it is, it is, it is. No longer mine entirely, I am in the process of letting go of it. Nobody explains, in books that tell you how to write a novel, what a problem that really is.

And I can’t help wondering, as I reread Anna Karenina once again, did Tolstoy have this problem? Continue reading

Why I Love ‘The Way We Live Now’

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A mortifying admission, but I had never read anything by Anthony Trollope until last week.  My youthful hatred of Dickens cast a shadow over the entire Victorian era. Nor did it help that Trollope had written so many books, none universally acknowledged as drastically better than the others, so one could feel confident starting with that. It’s the Joyce Carol Oates problem, made worse (it must be acknowledged) by his being a 19th-century male. I expected — what? Sermons, sentimentality, one-dimensional female characters. What can I say? I was a fool. Continue reading