The Roots of the Story
A Tolstoy biographer on the facts behind the fiction
Her image haunted him for a long time, but not specifically as material for a book. But in 1870, he had had an idea for a novel about an upper-class woman guilty of adultery. Sonya had even made a note in her diary, on February 23, 1870: "He told me that the whole problem, for him, was to make the woman pitiable but not contemptible, and that when this creature came into his mind as a type, all the masculine characters he had previously invented immediately grouped themselves around her."
The Making of Anna Karenina
Interviews with the star and the screenwriter
"One evening, we were filming at the train station.... There was a huge, blood-red moon and suddenly.... I'd never heard a steam train before -- We'd been waiting two hours for it to come in; it had been stuck on the track. Tempers were fraying and phone calls were being made to London. And suddenly, in the distance, you saw these two red eyes.... It began to snow that night as well, and the train whistle blew and it was just extraordinary."
"The temptation is to focus on Anna and Vronsky, but the strength of the novel is in how it explores these other relationships as well: Kitty and Levin, Dolly and Oblonsky, Anna and Karenin. Of course, Levin is crucial, apart from anything else, because he has so much of Tolstoy's own personality and outlook, so it seemed crazy not to have him at the center of it."
Tolstoy's War with Love
His own marriage became a tragedy of love and betrayal
Throughout the marriage, Sonya was spellbound by the power of her husband's prose. She needed to read and to share in his literary creation, whether as first reader, secretary, model or sounding board. As long as her husband included her in his literary endeavors, Sonya could stand any assault on her character or beliefs.
The Woman Question
Their sexuality was a problem for women in 19th-century Russia
The 1836 Code of Russian Laws stated, "The woman must obey her husband, reside with him in love, respect, and unlimited obedience, and offer him every pleasantness and affection as the ruler of the household." Husbands determined when their wives traveled, conducted business, studied with tutors (perhaps French or literature, though not in academic terms), or gained employment (extremely rare). Many dictated daily activities, such as deciding when wives could leave the house. Children were the property of a woman's husband, even if she had a child with another man via an adulterous affair.
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