Leo Tolstoy: The Kreutzer Sonata
Pozdnyshev suspects his wife to be in a love affair with a violinist and in a blind act of jealousy kills her and decides to tell you all about it on a night train. As he narrates the story of his debauched adolescence and failed marriage, he cynically imparts “wisdom” on men, women, the nonexistence of spiritual affinity in their relationships, sex, the marriage institution, adultery and the helplessness of it all. Men are depicted as brainless creatures whose actions are solely based on carnal pleasure, while women play the role of beautifully clad and dangerous temptresses. The whole text takes the form of a monologue confession with very dark thoughts on the tug-of-war between our human nature and our animal nature. Pozdnyshev describes himself as the product of a corrupt society that paves the way for a life of depravity. To top it all, even music becomes another way to allow for illicit liaisons between men and women.
When asked to explain why he wrote The Kreutzer Sonata, Tolstoy denounces how society’s conviction of the necessity of sex as a natural act has permitted out-of-wedlock sexual intercourse, thus establishing institutions of debauchery where unmarried men surrender to their wildest pleasures. Adding to that the poetic aspect with which carnal love is regarded, which has created the illusion that the sole purpose of the sexual act is the physical pleasure and not procreation. Tolstoy reaches to the conclusion that chastity is a must as an ideal, and the progression of humanity has been more than an evident proof of that.
It is indeed a very concise but profound book where Tolstoy lashes out on society’s deceiving ways and unleashes his rigorous and uncompromising opinions on the dynamics between the two sexes. He is a force of nature. And even though you disagree with his thoughts to the very core of your being, you cannot help but be in awe of his literary genius.