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Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 24, 2019

John Moran
Pages 163-176
DOI: 10.5840/cssr20192439

The Holes of an Ordinary Life
Tolstoy’s Pauline Revision

Many modern readers of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina view Anna’s passionate and scandalous romance with Vronsky as tragically heroic insofar as she desires nothing more than true love at any cost. These readers tend to view the story of Levin’s faith journey as inconsequential. This paper argues that such a reading is counter to Tolstoy’s intended message. Tolstoy intended to write a novel about the challenges of Christian faith in nineteenth century Russia. In doing so, he rewrote Paul’s Letter to the Romans in a manner consistent with his own emphasis upon the importance of the natural life—a life which embraces the natural cycle of birth and death and avoids the artificiality of urban, cosmopolitan life.

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