I’ve finished it.
This is probably the fourth time I’ve attempted to read it. I think having the audiobook helped somewhat as it meant I stayed with it on the drive to and fro work. But blimey Charlie it was hard work getting through it.
It doesn’t help that each character is called at least three different names, sometimes on the same page. From their full name, to nickname to another nickname. Which, as there are so many characters is confusing, and mostly listening to it, I also didn’t have the handy character list at the front to refer to. Yes it’s a quibble, but it is my quibble dammit.
With the audiobook, I don’t know when it was recorded, the blurb says “This is a vintage recording”. They’re not kidding, aside from the narrator often stumbling over her words, (forever known as Pismonounciations) and hearing pages being turned; the translation was from 1901 and included the N-word too.
In the paperback, translated a bit later in 1918, (in the same passage) Katavasov and Koznyshev are as dark as ‘Arabs’ with dust after riding in a horse and cart. Katavasov says ‘But I am not a negro! [marginally better] When I have had a wash I shall look like a human being!’ [Truly awful].
I know it’s of it’s time, and looking back even at Enid Blyton makes you wince now, but goodness me o.O
Konstantin Dmitrievich Levin is by far my favourite character; he’s sweet, humble and kind. I love how he felt so much for Kitty, he retreated away to the country; read philosophy trying to understand everything and where he fit in the world; how he shared his diaries to show Kitty he wasn’t ‘chaste’ before they got married, and also love that until Kitty got caught in the rainstorm with the baby in the pram, he wasn’t in love with Mitya his son.
I felt the same way about Archie, I loved him – but it was a few months before I was in love with him. I had this big natural birth thing going on in my head and his delivery was so far removed from what I wanted; the rite of love-warrior experience and feeling, it took a while for me to reconcile with the wee human.
I remember one night he was looking at me as he fell asleep, I was standing up, rocking him, he was tiny – he still fitted in one arm. His eyes grew heavy, but he kept looking at me. I told myself “You need to remember this.” And I have.
I’m enjoying the deep dive, if I can get hold of Maggie Gyllenhall’s version, I’ll give that a listen as her voice is like a warm bath.
Anyhoo, I can officially tick it off the classics list!