I couldn’t wait for this month’s Classics Challenge prompt because I want to talk with you about my current classic and how much I am loving it. I never expected to like Anna Karenina, yet it turns out that I adore it. It is easy to read, full of realistic insights into human emotions, provides a dazzling look into high society in Moscow and Petersburg in the 1870’s and is packed with irresistible melodrama.
This month Katherine’s prompt is all about setting. So let’s talk about where Anna Karenina takes place. I am about 150 pages into the novel and, so far, most of the action has happened in the homes of the main characters and in the homes of their friends and family members. Tolstoy does not use a lot of description so the reader is left to imagine what these homes look like and how they are arranged. This is a very Victorian novel so my imagination directs me to envisage extravagant Victorian interiors with a French influence as high society in Russia seems to be heavily influenced by the French at this time. I imagine something like this (minus the telephone):
Other than this narrow indoor setting, I’ve just started reading about Levin’s farm. Tolstoy takes a bit more care in describing the farm, the crops Levin grows, the pastures where the cattle graze, the barn, the forest. It is much easier to see Tolstoy’s vision of the farm than that of his idea of the rooms where Anna and Vronsky seal their relationship.
I surmise from this lack of detail that Tolstoy is much more interested in the characters, how they act and the choices they make and how these choices affect their families and society at large than the color of the furniture in their drawing rooms.
Do you like lots of detail about setting when you read a novel? Or does it not matter to you?