Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review: The Kreutzer Sonanta by Leo Tolstoy

Title: The Kreutzer Sonata
Author: Leo Tolstoy
Genre: Classics
Publisher: Modern Library
First published: 1889
Pages: 184

Rating: 5 out of 10

On a train ride, a man named Pozdnyshev overhears a conversation about love, marriage and divorce. He is reminded of his dark past, and begins telling a tale of how he came to fall in and out of love, resulting in murdering his own wife.

Pozdnyshev is a hard character to like, or to sympathize with. He seemed irrational and crazed to the utmost, not to mention perverted. He has a craving obsession for dirty things such as prostitutes and sexual gratification - made dirtier due to the fact that he seems set on describing these things in the most appalling way possible. He frequently compares these habits of his to those of an animal, which is how he comes to see himself.
He and his wife sink into disinterest in each other, and eventually to bitterness and hatred. The extent of Pozdnyshev's rage toward her could certainly be called abusive.
The climatic scene where he commits murder was a terrible one, and quite memorable. For a moment, the blindingly furious man checks himself and realizes what he has done, and it is a very dark moment in the book. However, within just a few sentences, he is back to being the abhorrent villain, as he begins telling his wife that he forgives her.
Forgives her?! It is him who needs forgiving! He has made every day of her life a torturous hell, and now he has murdered her. And yet he "forgives her."

Tolstoy wrote an impacting story for such a small number of pages, but I wish that the main character had been more relatable and the story drawn out into a bit more detail.