Soames

Woobie-watching

Am watching a 70s-era BBC adaptation of Anna Karenina, because it has my woobie Eric Porter as Karenin. Do not ask me to explain this Eric Porter mania because it is in explicable. It simply is. (The voice. It's the voice.) Anyway. Amazingly talky screenplay, written by Donald Wilson, who also wrote the good Forsyte adaptation, the BBC 1967 version.

This adaptation suffers from not having somebody with the gorgeousness quotient of Nyree Dawn Porter in the central role. I am out of sympathy with it in general, because I was out of sympathy with the novel when I read it. Why, I asked, are we wasting all this time with this tedious virtuous farmer dude and his tedious philosophy? How about some more adultery? Or maybe something could blow up! Er. Okay, maybe not that last. It's also possible that I was a lot younger when I read it.

The Russian novelists, they baffle me. I complained to my husband that one of my problems reading The Idiot was that I had no idea how to parse the behavior of the characters. What was shocking behavior? What was normal behavior? What were the expectations of the culture? I needed a reading guide.
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I adore War and Peace, but you couldn't pay me to read or sit through another version of Anna Karenina...and I know precisely the one you're talking about because I saw it on Masterpiece Theater when I was in my mid-teens.

Mostly, I have no sympathy with Anna at all. I've had sympathy with adulteresses in literature before. I've had sympathy with murderers in literature before. I felt pity of a bizarre sort for Raskolnikov while reading Crime and Punishment, despite the utterly despicable crime he committed and pathetic reasons for committing it. Somehow, though, Anna failed to capture my sympathy, my pity, or even my attention span.

Why is this? I cannot tell you. I honestly don't know the reason. I just know I find her one of the dullest, least sympathetic protagonists in all the literature I've read. Perhaps it's that she seems to have no philosophy, no real point of view beyond 'oh, I'd like that...oh, I wasn't supposed to do that...oh, well I guess that's the end of me, then.' She's a thoroughly suburban Emo girl who doesn't even have the guts to fully be that.

What's more, she's surrounded by rather tedious characters, so there's nothing to draw my focus away from how bland Anna really is.

Compared to Natasha Rostova, or even Maria Balkonskia, Anna is Jello pudding. And there's no Pierre, no Prince Andre, no Count Rostov or Nikolai to draw the audience to them instead.

Clearly I need to sit down and read War and Peace again soon. I do love that book.
I remember liking Crime and Punishment. Haven't read since high school, however, and memory is most definitely becoming dusty. Mr P is a big Dostoevski fan, and insisted I read The Idiot recently. I told him there was no way I could believe the guy had a plan for how it was going to go when it started. I found it incomprehensible. And a bit schematic, as if the characters were doing things because the writer had slots for them, representing this or that about Modern Russia.

War and Peace I have not read at all. I think I gave up on Tolstoy after Anna. And yes, I have to find her insipid. Come on, chickie, go out and take charge of your destiny!
I am reminded of an old commercial. It showed a weird scene like something out of a bad sixties Italian art film. The voiceover went "Why are foreign films so ... foreign?"

I had to read a Classic Russian Novel as part of my AP Lit class in high school. I don't remember what I read, but I know I picked it from the list because it was the shortest. I feel your pain.
The ones I had the problems with in my AP lit class, oh those long years ago, were not the Russians but the Germans. Hesse also mystified me. (We read Narcissus and Goldamun.) Why we make kids read these things, I'm not sure.
Yeah, we didn't have to read any German classics, for some reason. We had a long list of classic works, mostly English novels, and we had to read four outside of class per semester and then discuss them with her on our lunch hour. This on top of our normal reading. Four of them could be anything we wanted from the list, but we had to choose one Greek tragedy, one Shakespeare play, one 20th Century novel, and one Russian novel. And if you were in French you had to read Les Miserables, and if you were in Spanish you had to read Don Quixote. And if you thought a book was a classic but it wasn't on the list, you could read it and try to argue for its inclusion. I thought long and hard about maybe doing a Heinlein (there was no sf/f on the list) but decided that since I would read the Heinlein anyway, I should probably take that opportunity to read something I normally wouldn't.
For me, it's always about the voice. Chins, cheekbones and hands are important, but a sexy British voice is it.
The heart has its woobies, whereof reason knows nothing. (I am living proof.)

:-))


I keep thinking there has to be something they all have in common. I married somebody entirely unlike them all. (Though I tell you, Mr P and House can snark in unison sometimes.)
I kind of like Russian lit just for its culture shock. I remember when I was taking Russian, I had to study a poet (who's name, of course, escapes me because I can't even remember people's names at a party) And there was one in particular that almost brought the teacher to tears with it's beauty which ran something like; 'we'll strive to get to that distant place while the wolves are after us and if the wolves do get us, then maybe by feeding them we will give them the strength to reach that place in our stead.'
You can't really get more antithetical to American ideology. Our version would run; 'we'll strive to get to that distant place while the wolves are after us and if the wolves do get us before we can kill them, then we'll do our level best to keep them from getting there instead.'
Which is better? Who's to say? Personally, I can't stand victim mentality, so I'll go with the violence and selfishness, thanks. But our socialization definitely hampers our understanding of the lit.
Antenna, I apologize for not doing the Friday Giles Watchers post. I'd had a sleepless night and a full day at work and I thought I'd take a short nap and then do my post - and woke up much later than I'd planned to, and the post had been done. I'm really sorry - you take up the slack far too often in Giles Watchers and I don't want to add to that.

I don't seem to have access to the Giles Watchers posters group. Could you please add me to that? Thank you.
Done, and please don't worry about it. I was slacking off on a Friday night. And I think LJ went down about five seconds after I posted, so it might have been tricky for you to do it later in the evening!