Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy (3.5/5)

First published: 1889
Original title: Крейцерова соната, Kreitzerova Sonata
Original language: Russian
Translation to English by: David Duff, 1983

Page count: 144

The back says: Love can be murderous

Pozdnyshev and his wife have a turbulent relationship. When her beauty blossoms after the birth of their children, men begin to flock around her and he becomes increasingly jealous. Convinced his wife is betraying him with a young musician, he is driven to ever more dangerous lengths by his overpowering suspicion.

I say: I have been meaning to read this for the longest time, and am glad that I finally did, but I also wish that I had done it with a book club because it contains a lot of subjects to discuss.

On a train ride a man, Pozdnyshev, engages in a conversation about marriage, divorce and love, presenting some really interesting views. When only one man remains, the narrator, Pozdnyshev tells him the story that led him to the conclusions he previously shared. It’s a confession that we’re listening to – and a very candid one with extremely misogynistic views. There is such an intense bitterness that seeps through every page that made it fascinating to hear him tell the story of his life, refusing any responsibility for his actions. He admits to them and regrets them, but maintains throughout that he was led to them by his wife, her lover, society’s misguided views on love, and more.

Without going too far into it all, what he affirms is that men exploit women and he equates it to slavery which he defines as “the exploitation by the few of the forced labour of the many” (p. 62). Woman is an instrument of pleasure, is brought up to view herself as such and that is the reason she’ll stay enslaved. Furthermore, children are a burden and a torment.


I was more impressed by the ideas presented than the actual writing. Not that I think Tolstoy could have done that much more with it; it was a confession by an unyielding misogynist.

3.5/5 for the endless discussions this can lead to.

No comments:

Post a Comment