Lev Tolstoy’s Dutch cucumber

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Today I did something that I had been missing out on for a long time: I ate some müsli:


It was awesome.

In totally unrelated news, I have been wanting to tell you about Tolstoy. Up until recently I had never read any of his books, and I think it was because he had always seemed a bit scary. I mean, a Russian Realist who had a huge beard and who wrote big fat books with titles like “War And Peace” – that sounded intimidating enough in and of itself. But another factor must have been that I had previously read quite a bit of Dostoevsky, whose works were always dark as if he had scraped them from the bottom of the ocean. And so I figured Tolstoy was probably going to be like that as well.

So anyway, having just recently finished “reading” Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” (actually I listened to the audiobook) I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. When compared to Dostoevsky, this is almost a light read. The story is full of misunderstandings and entanglements, and at the heart of it there is love, or rather the complicated perception thereof.

Okay, “Anna Karenina” was a bit long for my taste, and the names were a bit complicated at times (as is often the case in Russian literature). But everything else about it was great.

Everything? There is one little thing. Of course I do agree that Tolstoy’s descriptions of individual processes and emotions are almost unbelievably livid and accurate (I particularly loved his depiction of jealousy, and both the birth scene and the death scene). However (and I hope I’m not giving away too much of the plot), I found the unraveling of the two main protagonists’ relationship and the ensuing dramatic events a bit sudden. And I don’t mean very sudden. Just a tiny bit.

Either way this book is great, and if you’re still not convinced that you should read it, please refer to this brilliant passage:

“The prince rejoiced in health exceptional even among princes. By gymnastics and careful attention to his health he had brought himself to such a point that in spite of his excess in pleasure he looked as fresh as a big glossy green Dutch cucumber.” (part 4, chapter 1)

A cucumber!

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