Unreal Nature

November 20, 2015

Go to Meet the Storm

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:38 am

… It is tragic when Monsieur Verdoux drinks rum for the first time before his execution and says he doesn’t like it.

This is from Bowstring: On the Dissimilarity of the Similar by Viktor Shklovsky; translated by Shushan Avagyan (1970; 2011):

[ … ]

“What am I ashamed of?” she asked herself with indignant surprise. She put down her book, leaned back, and clasped the paper knife tightly in both hands. There was nothing to be ashamed of. She called up all her Moscow memories. They were all good and pleasant. [from the beginning of Anna Karenina]

What was Anna Karenina ashamed of? Was she ashamed of the false happiness of the novel’s characters or her future uncompromising fall? Her journey thus far is rather safe. She doesn’t know yet that Vronsky will surge into the train, surge out of the storm that was “rushing and whistling between the wheels of the train,” and that she will go to meet the storm.

[ … ]

… This is how Anna Karenina dies. She falls into a torrent of memories, separates and registers individual features, perceives every movement that she makes, recalls that there is a little red handbag in her hand, feels how she quickly and lightly descends the steps that lead to the rails, and throws herself under the train. “A little peasant muttering something was working at the rails. The candle, by the light of which she had been reading that book filled with anxieties, deceptions, grief, and evil, flared up with a brighter light than before, lit up for her all that had before been dark, flickered, began to grow dim, and went out for ever.”

This is how the novel, which had opened with a biblical epigraph about vengeance, ends.

What is forbidden? What ought to be punishable?

[ … ]

… It is tragic when Monsieur Verdoux drinks rum for the first time before his execution and says he doesn’t like it.

It is tragic because he won’t be able to try anything else in his life.

My most recent previous post from Shklovsky’s book is here.

-Julie

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