Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's like "Anna Karenina" is the parts she left out of "Pride and Prejudice." Jane Austen worked with a limited range and knew she did.

Mrs. Bennett has little in common with Mr. Bennett, and why should she? Men and women lived very different lives, and marriages were about money.

So Mr. Bennett made wry comments which Mrs. Bennett didn't necessarily get because she was not, in Mr. Bennett's terms, very smart.

In "Anna Karenina," marriage about money between people with wildly different ways of thinking leads to more than wry comments. It leads to adultery and suicide. Jane Austen didn't get into that. A hyper-controlled society leads to, sometimes, a hyper-loss of control, but that wasn't Jane Austen's chosen department.

Tolstoy, who wrote "Anna Karenina" also wrote a book (the name of which I can't remember right now) that was presented as a novel but was more like an enraged essay.

The man in the book, talking and talking to strangers on a train, says that they, the respectable people are part of a system where women are raised in utter ignorance of sex and of how men live. Men are encouraged to live hearty sex lives with not respectable women and then marry one of these deeply ignorant women. The women are used, respectable and not respectable. The men can easily carry diseases between them.

It is like that book is the part he left out of Anna Kareninina.