Caressing a wax doll

A passage from "Anna Karenina" struck me with particular force today. Before I share it, some introductions and scene-setting are necessary:

The Russians:

Anna Karenina: a noted politician's wife, now living in exile with her lover, Count Vronsky, for whom she has forsaken husband, children, home, and reputation.
Count Vronsky: Anna's lover, who, having given up his army career and society position to be with her, has grown bored with his new life abroad, and who has taken up painting as a way to fill the hours of his empty days.
Golenishtchev: a self-important quasi-intellectual, now settled in this Italian town, perpetually gathering information for a grand treatise, and perpetually on the verge of writing it.
Mihailov: a brilliant artist who has been given the commission of painting Anna Karenina's portrait, and who in consequence has been obliged to listen to Golenishtchev's views and to look at Vronsky's own attempt at a portrait of Anna.
 "Mihailov meanwhile, although Anna's portrait greatly fascinated him, was even more glad than they were when the sittings were over, and he had no longer to listen to Golenishtchev's disquisitions upon art, and could forget about Vronsky's painting. He knew that Vronsky could not be prevented from amusing himself with painting; he knew that he and all dilettanti had a perfect right to paint what they liked, but it was distasteful to him. A man could not be prevented from making himself a big wax doll, and kissing it. But if the man were to come with the doll and sit before a man in love, and begin caressing his doll as the lover caressed the woman he loved, it would be distasteful to the lover. Just such a distasteful sensation was what Mihailov felt at the sight of Vronsky's painting: he felt it both ludicrous and irritating, both pitiable and offensive." - Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, Ch 13.
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  1. I'm curious as to how it affected you? It did not hit me with any force, really, so I don't know how it you took it.

  2. The wax doll anecdote definitely gave me an uncomfortable feeling - interacting with the doll of another was suggestive enough. Though like D. Paul, I am curious for how it affected you, Tony.

  3. I couldn't help but be struck by the thought of the probable reaction by established novelists were they to ever become aware of my writing, of the wax dolls I've made with my trembling dilettante's hands. I can only assume that they would not dismiss them as "both ludicrous and irritating, both pitiable and offensive"... merely irrelevant.

  4. I have read Faulkner. Believe you me, you're good!

    In all seriousness, the Twilight series and 50 Shades series are both best sellers. I cannot see how any of these authors, if not many, many more, snubbing you could not be anything other than a huge compliment.


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