The Beautiful Wisdom of Anna Karenina’s Derailing Marriage

I’ve been reading Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina recently, and absolutely love this book for the sharpness with which he looks at relationships, and how people communicate. There’s so much wisdom within these pages, about misunderstandings beyond repair, painful truths and the convenient lies we sometimes hope for.

[00:00:00] okay. So. I am currently reading Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. And it’s a dope book. I very much enjoyed, but I want to read is like one spot in this book where the husband of is suspecting and knows that she’s having an affair.
Now he has not caught her in the NFL. Nothing dramatic has happened, but her behavior towards him and towards this man, she’s having an affair with is very subtle, but so obvious that not just, he knows, but like everybody Russia knows that she’s having an affair. And so he comes now a part in the book where he.
Where he is being put in a position again, where it’s now so much more obvious, it becomes increasingly the harder for him [00:01:00] to work against knowing, right? In, in the very beginning, where you first suspected, whether it was the first kind of public interaction between him and his wife and the dude, his wife has an affair with the man that she is.
It was a very subtle kind of social little thing. And her husband, who’s this kind of very hardworking, very, career-driven very ambitious guy, very proper, but maybe also very selfish and very much in his own world and own head grabbed her and talked to her about it. But in the subtlest of ways, just telling her, Hey, Basically, maybe some things that you do, you obviously are very innocent, but some evil minds could misinterpret what you do.
And maybe you want to be careful not that so that people don’t have the wrong impression. You very kind of awkwardly try to like talk to her about it. And she kind of shut it down. She was like, this is ridiculous, blah, blah, blah. Just shut it down. And he accepted it. Although he knew [00:02:00] her reaction was kind of weird as well.
He knew this wasn’t right. So now. The second kind of wave where this confrontation between her and her husband is going to a peak. so it describes one part where he remembers that first conversation. And he, is now in his mind, annoyed about some new things that are happening and is thinking about talking to her.
Uh, and he’s like in his own head thinking. You know, um, how to approach this again. So I’ll read from this paragraph.

There was a tinge of acceleration in his relations with her, nothing more. You did not wish to have a talk with me. He seemed to be saying mentally, addressing her so much the worst for you.
Now you’ll ask me and I want to. So much of the worst for you. You said mentally like a man who after vain attempt to put out a fire, gets angry at his vein efforts and says serves you. Right? So for that, you can just burn down. [00:03:00] He who was so intelligent and subtle in official business, did not understand all the madness of such an attitude towards his wife.

Yeah. Yeah, you get it right though. Right? Like, I love that. How great he captures this. He tried to address something, but he did it kind of very timidly really. And because it didn’t immediately work, he’s now in his head thinking, well, now it’s your fault. And when you will come to me, I will not. And he’s like in his own head address here at this egg greet righteous.
Um, have we not all done this, you know, with people definitely have never done this. I know for sure. And I’ve done this at all. And then I love that.

I think this sentence is so poetic, but also so true. Maybe because it hits home for me and many men, especially men that are businessmen or something, a very ambitious entrepreneurial.
he, who was so [00:04:00] intelligent and subtle in official business, did not understand all the madness or such an attitude towards his wife.
It’s like, you cannot. And he, the first time he addresses her the way he thinks about how to talk to her, the way he talks to her. He’s like a man who’s thinking about like a, this is enough.
I have an official thing to say to this official business partner, but I can’t say directly, like it’s very business. Right. Very rational, very tactical. And it’s like, this won’t work in this situation at all. This is a terrible approach. I love that. All right. So another paragraph that I highlighted. So his name is Alex Alexandrovich.
Alex drove each thought and said that he had never had so much official business in any other year as he had that year, but he did not realize that he had invented things for himself to do that. That this was one way of not opening the drawer where his feelings for his wife and family and his thoughts about them late becoming more dreadful, the longer they [00:05:00] lay there.
Another one of those universal truth of humanity, I feel where we avoid something we’re afraid of. And we create an external world that aids us, you know, avoiding it, but we think we’re not conscious of that. So it just appears that, oh, I’m so busy, busy V states where it appears that wow, I had this accident and I’ve been like, whatever, like, uh, I’ve been, distracted by my health or distracted by my business or distracted by some big fight that I have with my neighbor.
And what we don’t realize is that we invented that. Subconsciously created that noise in the external world to distract ourselves from something we don’t feel ready to look at. Next one. How many times during this eight years of happy life with his wife, looking at other people’s unfaithful wives and deceived husbands had Alex say, Alexandrovich said to himself, how can one, let it come to that?
[00:06:00] How can one not undo this ugly situation? But now when the disaster had fallen on his head, he not only did not think of how to undo the situation, but did not want to know about it at all. Did not want to know precisely because it was too terrible, too unnatural.
Another one that I thought is very subtle, but it’s so wise, it’s very easy to look at other people’s mistakes and disaster. And situations that are bad and never having lived through any of them ourselves to know how they feel and to truly know how we would have dealt with them. We look over the fence and go, how could somebody do this?
How can somebody allow that? But it’s like, motherfucker, you don’t know how it feels to be that person. She don’t know how it feels to be in this situation. And if you’ve not experienced it, maybe we all need to be a bit more humble in [00:07:00] casting judgments on others. And we’ve all, I mean, I’ve definitely been in a situation where I thought, how could somebody do this?
And then when I won it wasn’t that situation. I then totally understood how somebody could do this. You know, cause being in it was so drastically different from thinking about it.
I there’s so many, there’s like a couple of pages, but a highlight is so much in there because I thought it was so beautifully. Brilliant. all right. So this is, he’s getting sick. I’ll jump over this. lots of little things like he’s having these meetings and encounters with him.
But he’s unconsciously always makes it so that he’s almost never alone with her. So there’s always a guest at the house for dinner when he’s at the house with her, or, you know, in all these kinds of situations that he’s interacting with her, he’s in an unaware fashion, making sure they’re on their own or alone as little as possible because when they are alone in a room, just the two of them in quiet, it’s much harder now.
To feel and see, and then address. Um, [00:08:00] but I’ll jump over this. I think there’s some, oh now here’s a point where she is angry at him. And I thought that it was beautifully captured, not just did he not really understand her and what was going on through her world and how to deal with her and that situation.
She also really misunderstood. And she’s the one that is unfaithful, but through his actions, during her on faithfulness, she’s getting angry at him. This is a situation where they’re in a public horse race. There’s all these politicians and Lords and princesses and whatever, all this like higher folk of Russia and she’s there and her level.
Is one of the people that is racing in that horse race and her husband is showing up and he’s not showing up because he wants to see the horse race or her it’s because it’s such a social event. He cannot not show himself there. So he shows up there and he’s kind of having all these very intellectual conversations with people close to her and [00:09:00] around her.
And that is kind of an anchoring her. So here comes, this is now from her perspective.
He knows everything. He sees everything. What does he feel then if you can talk so calmly, if he were to kill me, if you were to kill Wronski, that’s the guy she’s having an affair with, I would respect him, but no, he needs only lies and propriety on a set to herself.
Not thinking of precisely what you wanted from her husband or how she wanted to see him. No. Did she understand that Alex, Alex or drove is just particular. look, quest city. I don’t even know that word that day, which so annoyed. Her was only the expression of his inner anxiety and an easiness as a child who has heard himself jumps about in order to move his muscles and stifled the pain.
So for Alex, Alex, and drove, which mental movement was necessary in order to stifle those thoughts about his wife, which in her presence and that of Vronsky. And with his name constantly being repeated clamored.
[00:10:00] Right. So she looks at him and goes, I’m having an affair. This dude is so brilliant and so smart and knows everything.
And he stands next to me and is waxing on some philosophical bullshit. While I’m looking at the guy I’m having an affair with, like, why is he so fucking useless? Why is he not? If he was screaming at me, if he was, if he killed me with a sword right now, I would respect him. But look at this, like what kind of a piece of shit is.
But she doesn’t realize that he’s in agony and pain. And the only way he knows how to deal with those emotions because of the type of man he is, is not to take out a sword and killer or to make a big scene, but to busy his mind and engage in like these hyper intellectual conversations to distract himself from what he is not courageous enough to look at right now.
Right. So she looks at him as this kind of car. Head in the clouds guy and is mad at him when he’s fighting to appear calm because inside [00:11:00] he’s in pain. And it’s, so again, to me, this is such a beautiful human universal story, where two people that are important to each other that are bound to each other for various reasons.
And this couple, like this marriage, There’s no issues they’ve had, other than it appears that they were never madly loved. They gotten married and had a proper life and were respectful and nice to each other, but maybe they were not really, truly in love and working on their relationship. Well enough, who knows, but there’s no issue here.
There’s no obvious backstory that justified. The crisis they’re going through. but I think that the idea of having two people that are bound to each other in life, and then one is hurting the other, and they’re both completely confusing in there dealing with it and interpreting the other’s actions and kind of so wrong.
And so misunderstanding of the other, uh, I find that. It’s so human, it’s such a universal [00:12:00] story of life and of people.

okay. So he is another situation. So, I think this is now close to, oh, this is now the, the, I think the, the peak moment where the man she’s having an affair. Is having an accident during the horse race.
And her reaction is so dramatic and obvious to everybody that this woman is totally in love with this guy and her husband is there and it’s kind of very public affair and he’s trying to stay calm and offer her his hand to leave, and to calm her down and pretend he doesn’t see that she’s so distraught because she loves the guy and.
So in her own world that she’s like ignoring him and he doesn’t pay attention to how obvious it is, what she’s doing. So now they eventually, they’re getting to a point where they have to talk about this.
Now, when the disclosure of everything was hanging over him, he wished for nothing so much as that she would mockingly answer him just as, before that his suspicions were ridiculous and had no grounds.
[00:13:00] So dreadful was what he knew that he was now ready to believe anything. But the expression of her face frightened in gloomy did not promise even deceit, perhaps I’m mistaken. He said, in that case, I beg your pardon. No, you’re not mistaken. She said slowly looking desperately into his cold face. You’re not mistaken.
I was in, could not help being in despair. I listened to you and think about him. I love him. I’m his mistress. I cannot stand you. I’m afraid of you. I hate you. What you like with me?
So this is kind of the, the moment where he, she doesn’t give him the option anymore to be deceased, but again, uh, you know, it’s this big drama and everybody is obviously in the know and he’s trying to pretend nothing is happening and they’re leaving and he’s bringing it up very timidly, but then he’s like [00:14:00] regretting it immediately thinking, not thinking, but hopefully.
That she will just lie to him. So he doesn’t have to face this. Um, and I loved, I think the expression like that, that one sentence, but the expression of her face frightened and gloomy did not promise even deceit, like did not promise even the seat. I love that. Um, and so finally she reveals it to him and.
You know, now it’s kind of, now it’s spoken out loud. Now they’ll have to deal with it in one way or another. Um, but what I love, I mean, I really enjoy this book. I think he writes beautifully. Tulsa writes beautifully in this book about human nature and humanity relations and feelings.

One thing that he does in the book that I really love is that oftentimes there’s two people that having a, a conversation or a dialogue, and then the dialogue.
And then he’s [00:15:00] writing how one is talking to the other with their eyes. And then she was looking at him and her eyes were saying, please, you know, do this to me, do that to me. And his eyes were saying something different, you know? And it’s like talking about the, kind of how people continue to talk with their eyes and their body.
Long past that when they stopped speaking or in other situations, he starts off dialogue with the eyes. And then he goes into actually, uh, talking out loud. I think it’s super, there’s something very perceptive about interactions of people, but you re it’s beautifully written book.

you get sucked into the people and the characters immediately.
And so far, one other thing that I really loved, I mean, I’m only quarter through the book, so there’s still a lot to read. But the other thing that I really loved is that although almost every character that he is presenting, not almost, I think every character is [00:16:00] presenting in this book has flaws has obvious flaws is making mistakes, is doing some bad things, but every character is also innocent.
And. Good. And so there are no so far, there are no bad people. There are no, there’s no division between good and bad. As in these other bat characters in the story. And these are the good characters in the story. Every character in the story is carrying various varying amounts of good and bad and some very good characters do very bad things and some very bad characters do some really good things.
It is much more messy to figure out who your hero here will be, who to feel for you kind of start feeling for all of them for different reasons. And [00:17:00] I find that also, like I find that it’s very hard to do this well in writing and storytelling, but, but it is so much more alive because it’s so much closer to reality.
Like people are not good and bad is like one block of being even the worst humans have done some very kind things probably have been. I, I remember telling my, uh, one of my older brothers was a bouncer and there were many people I didn’t like when I was like 16, 17. And I remember, I, you know, I would bring up some dude and it would say, oh, that dude is a total asshole.
I really don’t like him. And my brother would go really. Okay. And then I brought up somebody else. I’m like, oh, that guy that said did this and this, that guy is a piece. My brother was like, really? He’s so nice. And then one day I remember telling him, well, motherfucker, everybody’s nice to you. You are bouncer.
Like everybody’s trying to get into the club. So all these people, of course, they’re nice to you. Right? And I think I’m like [00:18:00] 16 and 17. That was the first moment where I also realized, well, wait a second. Every asshole is somebody’s best friend and everything. Awesome person to me is somebody asshole.
Right? I know that like a lot of people thought I was a nice person when I was younger, but there were also people that thought that I’m an asshole and that’s still, probably true today. I don’t like to think about it and nobody’s confronting me with this, but there are people out there in the world.
Maybe they haven’t interacted with me, or maybe some of them have interacted with me and have interpreted those actions in a certain way. That would say Steli is a terrible thing. Selfish arrogant asshole. And then there’s other people that would say, no, he’s not ever going at all. And he’s like the kindness.
And he has been so helpful and is like sweet and everything. So realizing that we’re all different things to different people. And we’ve been all different things at different times. And when you get somebody that is able to write and build [00:19:00] really rich in-depth characters that are in conflict with each other and where a lot of life drama happens.
It’s not painted in black and white. There’s so much gray and everyone is just a complicated person. Um, I really admire that. That’s so artful to me. So I love that about, um, about the book on a current Nina it’s like, although they’re all flawed, they’re also kind of good and innocent and complicated and completely.

And, uh, I love that, but the piece, the reason I wanted to bring up that piece is because it was the first time that for a number of pages, I thought he described the situation of the husband that is trying to ignore a big drama, big catastrophe in his life to push it away, to not look at it. And anytime it approaches him, it has proximity to him.
He has this approach that is completely. [00:20:00] Wrong where he, you know, in his mind gets angry at her and thinks that he’s going to show her about by not talking to her about this, or by letting her burn or whatever in her side of things, which is not, you know, you would think a lot of the writing prior to what I read is talking about her guilt, like she’s feeling guilty, tremendously guilty.
Uh, about her actions, but she doesn’t feel guilty towards her husband. For whatever reason. She feels guilty towards a song in society and being a bad person. But towards our husband, she’s more angry than anything, which is kind of surprising, but very common, right. She’s doing the bad thing, but she’s angry at the person that she’s hurting because somehow.
There’s a history there that makes her feel righteous to blame him. And in this one, quote that I read where he’s next to her in his, like [00:21:00] loofy goofy talking poshy about some philosophical theories that is like feeding the flames, anger towards him because she’s like, look at what a piece of shit of a man.
He is here. I am. You know, having an affair, he knows it probably, but look, he’s doesn’t case it just in his own world, he just cares about ambition. He doesn’t care. He just cares about public perceptions. He doesn’t care about me. And that interpretation of his actions is making her angry at him for her actions and his responses to it and all that as well.
To me, I felt was just beautifully captured something that is flawed her interpretations of his actions. Um, and her being angry at him, at least in this situation is misguided, but is maybe a protection mechanism to not feel as guilty, to feel encouraged, to keep going with what she’s doing or to feel at least at once.
Maybe her relation will break [00:22:00] off or her husband then does something bad to her that you won’t feel like those actions were justified, but that her husband is really the enemy and the bad. Guy in this, in this situation. Um, yeah, I don’t know. I really, I really loved those last couple of pages in that complexity of how these two people trying to deal with this, with this drama in their life.

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