23 February 2008 - Tolstoy on Complexity, Flow, and Marriage - 0 Comments

"Every man, knowing to the smallest detail all the complexity of the conditions surrounding him, involuntarily assumes that the complexity of these conditions and the difficulty of comprehending them are only his personal, accidentally peculiarity, and never thinks that others are surrounded by the same complexity as he is. So it seemed to Vronsky."

"They finished another swath and another. They went through long swaths, short swaths, with bad grass, with good grass. Levin lost all awareness of time and had no idea whether it was late or early. A change now began to take place in his work which gave him enormous pleasure. In the midst of his work moments came to him when he forgot what he was doing and began to feel light, and in those moments his swath came out as even and good as Titus's. But as soon as he remembered what he was doing and started trying to do better, he at once felt how hard the work was and the swath came out badly."

"And here is my opinion for you. Women are the man stumbling block in a man's activity. It's hard to love a woman and do anything. For this there exists one means of loving conveniently, without hindrance - that is marriage. How can I tell you, how can I tell you what I'm thinking,' said Serpukhovsky, who liked comparisons, 'wait, wait! Yes, it's as if you're carrying a burden, and doing something with your hands is only possible if the burden is tied to your back - and that is marriage.'"

- Tolstoy (trans. P&V), Anna Karenina, 1878

February 19, 2008 - Tolstoy on Denial, and Fishing. - 0 Comments

"How many times during his eight years of happy life with his wife, looking at other people's unfaithful wives and deceived husbands, had Alexei Alexandrovich said to himself: 'How can one let it come to that? 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."

"After the doctor's departure, Sergei Ivanovich expressed a wish to go to the river with a fishing rod. He liked fishing and seemed to take pride in being able to like such a stupid occupation."
- Tolstoy (trans. P&V), Anna Karenina, 1878

February 18, 2008 - Clarke on the Stages of Life - 0 Comments

"'And are you married, sir?' Mrs Winstanley asked Tom.
'Oh no, madam!' said Tom.
'Yes,' David reminded him. 'You are, you know.'
Tom made a motion with his hand to suggest that it was a situation susceptible to different interpretations.
The truth was that he had a Christian wife. At fifteen she had had a wicked little face, almond-shaped eyes and a most capricious nature. Tom had constantly compared her to a kitten. In her twenties she had been a swan; in her thirties a vixen; and then in rapid succession a bitch, viper, cockatrice and, finally, a pig. What animals he might have compared her to now no one knew. She was well past ninety now and for forty years or more she had been confined to a set of apartments in a distant part of the Castel des Tours saunz Nowmbre under strict instructions not to shew herself, while her husband waited impatiently for someone to come and tell him she was dead."

February 17, 2008 - Reynolds on Forced Shaving - 0 Comments

"There was an old law of the Alemanni which ran: Si Barbam alicujus tonderit non volentis, cum sex solidis componat, that is to say that the fine for shaving a man against his will was fixed at six gold coins. And in later years the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who had clearly a vested interest, fixed the fine for this offence at twenty pounds, with ten pounds damages to the victim. Fines were, in fact, frequently mentioned, among old Teutonic laws, for forcible shaving as an injury and insult."

February 16, 2008 - Tolstoy on Health & Medicine - 0 Comments

"The prince frowned and kept coughing as he listened to the doctor. He, as a man who had seen life and was neither stupid nor sick, did not believe in medicine, and in his soul he was angry at this whole comedy, the more so in that he was almost the only one who fully understood the cause of Kitty's illness."
- Tolstoy (trans. P&V), Anna Karenina, 1878