Book Review: The Krautzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy

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Arti­cle first pub­lished as Book Review: The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tol­stoy on Blog­crit­ics.

The Krautzer Sonata by Leo Tol­stoy is a novella writ­ten in 1889. At times this novella seemed like a rant that goes on page after page, but taken as a whole I can cer­tainly see the genius behind it.

  • 128 pages
  • Pub­lisher: Mod­ern Library
  • Lan­guage: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812968239

Book Review The Krautzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy

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More books by Leo Tolstoy

I enjoyed The Krautzer Sonata by Leo Tol­stoy very much, it was a quick read, quite inter­est­ing but also a bit dis­turb­ing. I dis­agree with many of the themes the book rep­re­sents and it seemed as if Tol­stoy wrote this novella while being in an extremely foul mood, or extremely mad at his wife.

The novella is pro-religion (Chris­tian­ity), sex­ist, anti phys­i­cal con­tact (sex), pro-life (or more accu­rately anti-birth con­trol), and seems to jus­tify mur­der. One of the char­ac­ters (very few) feels jus­ti­fied at mur­der­ing his wife how might, MIGHT, have cheated on him. That being said, the book is very well writ­ten and can be appre­ci­ated even though one might dis­agree with almost all the opin­ions in the

I guess the major dis­agree­ment I have with Mr. Tol­stoy is that sex is evil and that women are oppressed and have sex because men force them to. Men, on the other hand, are wired to have sex all the time (OK, I can’t argue with that) but will do best to avoid such temptations.

The story is poignant and, despite the themes above, presents the chal­lenges of being mar­ried quite well. Tol­stoy does well by mak­ing a point about the illu­sions of love and mar­riage, some­thing which our high divorce rate might point to. As I men­tioned, I don’t agree with many of the ideas pre­sented in the story, but I do think that they are pre­sented well, make some good points and are cer­tainly a food for thought espe­cially for those of us who hold con­trary views.

Tol­stoy could be the anti– Aesop, while Aesop used ani­mals instead of humans in fables, Tol­stoy gives peo­ple beastly traits. I under­stand why Tol­stoy made that choice but sim­ply didn’t care for the forced analo­gies (espe­cially since there are so many good ones which can be observed almost daily).

There are no char­ac­ters in this short story which I could see myself in, like or even sym­pa­thize with. The main char­ac­ter, Pozd­ny­shev, seems irra­tional at best and just plain nuts at worst; he seems to rel­ish describ­ing things in an appalling way in order to shock his audience.

Regard­less, Tol­stoy man­aged to write a pow­er­ful story in a short amount of space. That is a good thing because I don’t know if I would have been able to read a full length novel with the char­ac­ter­is­tics men­tioned in pre­vi­ous paragraphs.

Pozd­ny­shev over­hears a con­ver­sa­tion on a train about love and mar­riage when he is reminded of his past mis­deeds. Pozd­ny­shev con­tin­ues to talk to himself/G-d/the reader about how he fell in love, then out of love and finally mur­der­ing his own wife.

Buy book in paper or elec­tronic format*

More books by Leo Tolstoy

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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