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In Leo Tolstoys Anna Karenina the characters of Levin and Anna are devoured by their doubts and their inability to derive meaning from their lives Their means of dealing with this existential doubt differ however Where Anna sees her life as a novel a structured series of events that has form and in which she is in the hands of fate Levin grapples with his inability to find any form at all to the disordered and seemingly meaningless nature of his life which he nevertheless lives in a determined and resolute fashion Tolstoy implies through Levin that though we would like to attribute the qualities we ascribe to Art to our own lives because they are comforting and fanciful they are inappropriate and misleading While the outlooks of these two characters differ they resemble each other in their resolute truthfulness As the protagonists of the book their approaches in dealing with their fate are juxtaposed in their final inner monologues the contrasting of which is the intent of this essay Tolstoy illustrates through the destructive nature of Annas act and the elation experienced by Levin at his epiphany the danger of ascribing poetic importance to ones own life Conceiving of ones own life as one looks at a narrative fated by omens and external forces is not only narcissistic and selfish but untrue whereas taking control of ones life to do good is noble and meaningful Annas and most young peoples ideology of life is that it is only truly lived when it is most intense Tolstoy disagrees with this and confronts it with the idea that in the words of Gary Morson life is lived in the small and ordinary moments It is both prosaic and undramatic Morson p 73 at the same time This is clear from the descriptions of daily life on the farm and the almost holy significance Tolstoy ascribes to the mundane rituals necessary to cultivating the earth But
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