March 24, 2009

English muffin, Russian author

Today I embarked on my second attempt at reading Anna Karenina -- the first time, I only got about a third of the way in. Maybe in digital form I'll be able to last longer than last time, when I was reading that cumbersome volume whose binding boasted creases that were evidence of my thwarted attempts to read it one-handed. 'Twas too thick! 'Tcouldn't be done. No, I guess "'tcouldn't" is not a valid word. Oh well. 'Tshould be.

I wanted to share this excerpt I read at work today, in between bites of my sandwich (wheat English muffin / chicken breast / cabbage leaves / mayo):
"But in spite of this, each of them--as is often the way with men who have selected careers of different kinds--though in discussion he would even justify the other's career, in his heart despised it. It seemed to each of them that the life he led himself was the only real life, and the life led by his friend was a mere phantasm."
--from Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, speaking of Levin and Oblonsky
Levin and Oblonsky are old friends, tied by familiarity rather than by traits they share in common. Tolstoy is right -- it seems we cannot avoid being somewhat bothered when friends devote themselves to careers that we find disappointing or even despicable. But is it enough to cause a friendship to fail?

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