Yesterday there was a post about Teddy Roosevelt’s response to Russian literature. It’s worth quoting Teddy at length (from a letter to his younger sister dated April 12th 1886):
“I took Anna Karenina along for the trip and have read it through with very great interest. I hardly know whether to call it a very bad book or not. There are two entirely distinct stories in it; the connection between Levine’s story and Anna’s is of the slightest and need have existed at all. Levine’s and Kitty’s history is not only very powerfully and naturally told, but it is also perfectly healthy. Anna’s most certainly is not, though of great and sad interest; she is portrayed as being a prey to the most violent passions, and subject to melancholia, and her reasoning power is so unbalanced that she could not possibly be described otherwise than as in a certain sense insane. Her character is curiously contradictory; bad as she was however she was not to me nearly as repulsive as her brother Stiva.”
For all its worth, I also like the story of Levin and Kitty much more than that of Anna and Vronsky. But I don’t think that Anna was insane. Now Adele H. certainly was. Her story is told in a great movie but a very sad one. It’s about a woman loving too much and losing everything, including her mind. Would I know where to draw a line? I would not.