Books and Movies Reviews

Konstantin Levin and His Strug

In Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy examines the psychological makeup of Konstantin Levin. On one hand, he is a symbol for the educated landowners and aristocracy that is prevalent in Russia. Conversely, he represents the struggle in searching for the meaning of life. Although part of the Russian Aristocracy, Levin finds contentment in farming and manual labor. It is in the agricultural environment that Levin discovers his purpose when viewing the blue sky and experiencing nonverbal communication.
One of the most famous scenes of Anna Karenina is the mowing at Levin’s estate. Thefirst fully developed interaction between Levin and the peasant class symbolizes the triumph of nature over the stained upper classes, the essence of Slavism that would save Russia from Europe’s fate of nihilism and anarchism, and the core of a future religious utopia. They here appear in the narrator’s brief snatches of description in a very neutral, factual light. Characteristic of Tolstoy’s prose is the importance of point of view, and often Tolstoy will recount the same scene from many different view points, even to the point of including the inner monologues of Levin’s hunting dog during a shooting outing.
In the fields so prosaically presented by the narrator, Levin’s view of the peasants that work his lands is nothing short of an exalted religious experience accompanied by an intense and driven rational analysis. Here, sickle in hand, Levin confronts in a classic and symbolic simplicity the source of his unhappiness and a vision of how it may be overcome. The arbitrary twists and turns of the fields they mow and the uneven surface of the Earth that knock and trip the mowers are symbols of the unstructured world that Levin confronts and that is so indifferent to the intense and almost unspeakable love that draws him to Kitty. As he tears at the grass with such energy that he nearly collapses at the end of each length, next to him an old man slices easi…