Monday, February 21, 2011

How Tolstoy First Conceived of Anna Karenina, as told to Vladimir K. Istomin

I was once lying on this divan exactly as I am now, in this very room after dinner. Then too there was twilight. I was tired and fighting sleep when all of a sudden a naked female elbow appeared in front of my eyes. I, unintentionally, began to look at it more closely. The elbow reappeared and before my eyes it gradually assumed the shape of a bare necked woman in fabulous ballroom attire. Her face was beautiful and she was looking at me with her pensive and suffering eyes. It seemed to me then that I could not tear myself away from this apparition for a long time. Finally it disappeared in the same way as it had appeared. But ever since then it never left me. I carried the image in my soul, had silent conversations with it and without realizing it, I discovered its secret. From then was born a burning desire to reveal this secret and I could find no peace until I got down to it.

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