Limits to Interpretation: The Meanings of Anna Karenina

Overview

Vladimir E. Alexandrov advocates a broad revision of the academic study of literature and proposes an adaptive, text-specific reading methodology that is designed to minimize the circularity of interpretation inherent in the act of reading. He illustrates this method on the example of Tolstoy’s classic novel via a detailed "map" of the different possible readings that the novel can support.  Anna Karenina emerges as deeply conflicted, polyvalent, and quite unlike what one ...
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Overview

Vladimir E. Alexandrov advocates a broad revision of the academic study of literature and proposes an adaptive, text-specific reading methodology that is designed to minimize the circularity of interpretation inherent in the act of reading. He illustrates this method on the example of Tolstoy’s classic novel via a detailed "map" of the different possible readings that the novel can support.  Anna Karenina emerges as deeply conflicted, polyvalent, and quite unlike what one finds in other critical studies.
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What People Are Saying

Hugh McLean
ALEXANDROV HAS WRITTEN AN IMMENSELY THOROUGH, imaginative, original, and revealing analysis of this great novel that is at the same time a forthright advocacy of more rigorous, text-focused interpretation. The book should thus be of great interest both to Tolstoy aficionados and to adepts of the theory of narrative prose.
Joseph Frank
A MUCH MORE EXHAUSTIVE AND DETAILED ANALYSIS of the novel than anyone has ever attempted before—an analysis quite remarkable and illuminating, and nothing less than admirable in its search for the secrets of Tolstoy in the labyrinth of his own text. It is written so clearly and lucidly, however, that it may well appeal to intelligent non-specialist readers with an interest in Tolstoy.
Michael Holquist
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT BOOK. . . . in addition to being a masterful contribution to our understanding of a great work of art it is a manifesto proclaiming a new theory of reading in general. . . . In lucid and lively prose Alexandrov shows that the excitement and efficacy of combining the strictest rigor with the boldest generalization still has much to give to our understanding of . . . specifically literary discourse.
Peter Brooks
A WISE AND ERUDITE STUDY that uses Tolstoy's Anna Karenina to account for the plural meanings that a great work of art provokes.... A forceful and persuasive argument against originality of interpretation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299195403
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2004
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Vladimir E. Alexandrov is the B. E. Bensinger Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University, editor of The Garland Companion to Vladimir Nabokov, and author of Nabokov’s Otherworld.
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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 The plurality and limits of interpretation
1 An ethical argument for recognizing textual alterity 25
2 A psychological argument for recognizing textual alterity 29
3 Alterity and semiotics 32
4 Jakobson's "metalingual function" and alterity 34
5 Hermeneutic indices, or guides to textual alterity 38
Pt. 2 Anna Karenina : a map of readings
6 From theory to practice 63
7 Early signals 67
8 Reading readings, and art about art 75
9 Art and metaphysics 92
10 The formal implications of the novel's conception of art 95
11 The problem of language 107
12 Absolutism : claims about universal truth and morality 112
13 Relativity : characters as arbiters of meaning and value 134
14 Self and other 233
15 The inner voice and conscience 243
16 Essentialism 257
17 Fate 276
18 Literary form, fate, freedom, chance 290
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