The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 22, Issue 1/4, 2006

Roland A. Champagne
Pages 149-164

Levin’s ‘Disobedient Tears’
Applying the Literary Semiotics of Pierre Bourdieu in Anna Karenina

The literary semiotics of Pierre Bourdieu incorporates the principles of habitus and hexis to reveal hidden codes in some literary texts. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (1877) is such a literary text. A Bourdieu-guided semiotic reading of Levin’s weeping locates marriage as the nexus enabling the interpretation of his “disobedient tears” on the eve of his wedding to Kitty. The habitus and hexis of marriage reveal the imbedded mythological, psychoanalytic, physiological, cultural, and socio-cultural codes that intersect in Levin’s crying. Bourdieu’s method thus allows us to read Levin’s “disobedient tears” as commentaries on the semiotic codes imbedded in this literary event.