Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fathers and Children excerpt: Anna Sergeevna Odintsova

I found a few passages from books I’ve read this year that I did not include in any post. That is a shame in this case since it is a key passage in understanding Odintsova. I described her in this post as follows: “a wealthy widow (age 29). Self-disciplined and reserved, she thrives on order. Her independence has come at a cost, and her reserve masks her feelings not just to others but to herself as well.”

From Chapter 16:
The colors of the rainbow would sometimes dance before her eyes, but she was always relieved when they faded and had no regrets. Her imagination even exceeded the boundaries of what’s considered permissible according to the laws of conventional morality; but even then her blood flowed as quietly as ever in her charmingly graceful and tranquil body. Sometimes, upon emerging from a frequent bath, all warm and soft, she’d fall to musing about the insignificance of life, its sadness, travail, and evil… Her soul would be filled with unexpected boldness and seethe with noble aspiration; but a draught of wind would blow in from a half-open window and Anna Segreevna would retreat into herself, complain, and feel almost angry; the only thing she needed at that moment was for the nasty wind to stop blowing on her.

(Translation by Michael R. Katz—ellipsis in original)
Turgenev gives us a suggestive glimpse into Odintsova’s body and soul. Everything that happens between her and Bazarov echoes this passage. Even when considering things outside “the laws of conventional morality” she remains calm and composed. Most importantly, when something foreign invades her world, like the wind or Bazarov, she recoils from it and turns back inside herself. Just one of many lovely passages in he Fathers and Children and one I should have included in my posts.

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