When Marshal of the Nobility Pozdnyshev suspects his wife of having an affair with her music partner, his jealousy consumes him and drives him to murder. Controversial upon publication in 1890, The Kreutzer Sonata illuminates Tolstoy's then-feverish Christian ideals, his conflicts with lust and the hypocrisies of nineteenth-century marriage, and his thinking on the role of art and music in society. The Kreutzer Sonata is a convincing artistic study of jealousy and ill tempered polemic against society's sexual education of young men and women. Toltoy's short novel, Family Happiness was written in 1858, before Tolstoy was married, in the aftermath of his courtship of a young woman named Valeriya Arsenyova. In this story, Tolstoy describes what he believed would have happened had he and Valeriya married. As it turns out, it is a startling forecast of the early years of his marriage to Sofiya Behrs. This is the first of Tolstoy's in-depth portraits of marriage. The evolution of his views of marriage and what constitutes family happiness is a central theme of Tolstoy's life, both artistic and personal.More
This collection of two of Leo Tolstoy's novellas are wildly different but equally compelling meditations on love and marriage. The Kreutzer Sonata concerns the passionate love and intense hatred and jealousy that leads Pozdnyshev to murder his wife, while Family Happiness takes a more sober, mature look at love through the marriage between Masha and her older husband, Sergey. Walter Zimmerman performs with an astounding elocution, but varies his style to fit the differing protagonists; for Pozdnyshev he is taut and harsh, while Masha is sweet and searching, showing that Zimmerman has a gift for bringing Tolstoy's characters to life.
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- Tanza Pugliese