Just giving a feminist critique of the books I read. Pretty simple!
My views don't represent all feminists, as we're all different. There are liberal feminists, eco-feminists, radical feminists . . . and so on. I consider myself an anarcha-feminist, which means that I'll also include critiques of capitalism and neoliberalism in my analysis.
Additionally, I don't think feminism is just about gender -- it's about race, class, sexuality, etc.
I'm also not here to engage with anti-feminists, sorry!
Review from June 2010:
[Yay! Er...not sure if I should say Yay to a story about death.
I'd never read Tolstoy before, so I thought I'd give him a try. My intended minor (whenever I get to transfer...) is Russian & Slavic Culture, so I might as well start now. I chose these two stories because one appears on the 1001 list, and it jumped out at me at the library!
I'm not sure if all Russian literature is like this, but these two short stories were heavy. Full of weight (thanks for this mode of thought, Kundera!) and gravitas. Dealing with death, right choices and redemption, they are certainly not beach reads. I preferred the second story to the first, though the ending of the first was compelling.
What struck me (spoilers!) was the difference between the two characters in Master and Man, as far as how they deal with life and death. Vassili was a trivial, easy to dislike sort of man, who was wholly concerned with profits, no matter the human cost, while his servant Nikita, though troubled by family problems and personal addictions, was an affable fellow. Long story short, in the end Vassili, after turning his back on Nikita in an extreme snowstorm, comes to save him and in doing so, dies. Much like Ivan, he is concerned with how he lived his life, what mistakes he might have made. In his death, he is reborn and redeemed. Death, in the eyes of a viewer, is his gift. Yet as for Nikita, though during the storm he doesn't want to die, he is rather resigned after the debacle. He has tired of all of life's difficulties and just wishes it to be over. It almost makes the gift that Vassili gave worthless. The juxtaposition of these two deaths made for a haunting story.
Even though I would have to anyway, I'm looking forward to reading more from Tolstoy. I read a bit about his personal life, and I'm curious to how it coloured his writing.
(This is from the introduction to the book, and I just thought it was interesting because I adore Lawrence) "Tolstoy is like D.H. Lawrence----on occasion astonishingly repetitive, frequently clumsy. Both allow the thoughts of their characters to suffuse an apparently objective narrative. Unlike the controlled exploration of free indirect discourse in, say, Joyce's Dubliners, what we find in both Tolstoy and Lawrence is the instinctive imaginative projection of the sympathetic author."
-Both are from The Death of Ivan Ilyich- "Everything is always the same. Then hope glints---like a drop of water. A drop lost in a turbulent ocean of despair. And everything is pain again, pain and misery and everything always the same. It is dreadfully sad on his own...."
"There, in his childhood, was something really pleasant that you could live with, if it were to come again. But the person who had experienced that happy time was no more: it was like a memory of another person."
"He heard these words and repeated them in his soul. "Death is finished," he said to himself. "There is no more death."]