Advertisement

Interpreting Tolstoy’s Intention in Anna Karenina

  • K. M. Newton

Abstract

In the previous chapter I argued that the power of the humanist interpretation of Shakespeare has its basis in the ideology favoured by his critics. One implication of my argument was that this interpretation would lose support if evidence was discovered which suggested that Shakespeare did not hold a humanist position, since for most critics, even many who would not regard themselves as intentionalists, authorial intention possesses sufficient force to make the critic exercise control over any tendency to interpret a text in relation to his ideological preferences. This implication, however, requires some qualification, for one should not under-estimate the power of ideology. Although one can be certain that the interpretation of Shakespeare would be significantly affected if such evidence was to emerge, it would not necessarily overturn the humanist critical perspective, even among critics who would tend to support an intentionalist position. Critics are not, of course, compelled to accept that the author’s intention has priority over the critic’s point of view in determining how a literary text should be interpreted. In most cases, the literary institution will give greater support to interpretations which take account of authorial intention, but the institution is not immune to ideological influence.

Keywords

Literary Text Humanist Position Moral Conflict Ideological Preference Humanist Interpretation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Henri Troyat, Tolstoy, tr. Nancy Amphoux (London, 1968) p. 357.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    F. R. Leavis, ‘Anna Karenina’ and Other Essays (London, 1967) p. 20.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    George Steiner, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky (Harmondsworth, 1967) p. 256.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See Tolstoy’s Letters, ed. and tr. R. F. Christian, 2 vols (London, 1978) I, 223.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenine, tr. Rosemary Edmonds (Harmondsworth, 1978) p. 75. Page numbers from this edition will henceforth be incorporated in the text.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    T. G. S. Cain, Tolstoy (London, 1977) p. 108.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Mary McCarthy, ‘Anna Karenina’, Observer (Colour Supplement), 22 Mar 1981, p. 68.Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    Raymond Williams, ‘Lawrence and Tolstoy’, Critical Quarterly, 2 (1960) 37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kenneth McMillan Newton 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. M. Newton

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations