First published in 1889, Leo Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata is the 77th entry upon my Classics Club list. Censored by Russian authorities upon its publication, the novella is a fascinating insight into the jealousy which love and passion can create.
Not wanting to give too much away here, I shall copy the official blurb of the piece, which gives a nice overview but does not go into too much detail: “Pozdnyshev and his wife have a turbulent relationship. When her beauty blossoms after the birth of their children, men begin to flock around her, and he becomes increasingly jealous. Convinced his wife is betraying him with a young musician, his overpowering suspicion drives him to ever more dangerous lengths.”
Some interesting and rather complex ideas manifest themselves within the story, and despite its relative shortness, it is nevertheless an incredibly rich, thought-provoking and memorable read. The first person narrator is a wonderful touch, adding a sense of immediacy to the whole, rather than the distancing effect which the use of a third person perspective would surely have brought to proceedings.
The Kreutzer Sonata is perhaps most interesting when viewed as a gender study. Tolstoy rather bravely goes against the norm in terms of themes and the standpoint of females within Russian society as a whole. As in many of his works, Tolstoy is rather profound at times, and certainly provides intrigue with regard to such ideas as generational gaps, the notion of parenthood (particularly with regard to maternal feelings), and with relationships forged between its adult characters.