The shift I've noticed since Anna Karenina is that there seems to be less focus on the idea of what it means to be Russian abroad. During Kitty's spa visit, the Russians are either trying to blend in with the western Europeans or assert their "Russianness" as Kitty's father does. Perhaps there's less focus on Russian identities because we don't see the citizens of the pension interact with other non-Russians.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
The Russian Tether
For the first time since Anna Karenina, Mary allows us to continue the discussion of Russians abroad. Like Kitty, the residents of the pension use their time away to reflect on their home country. On page 81, Podtyagin states "whenever we dream about Russa we never dream of it as beautiful, as we know it was in reality, but as something monstrous." Ganin's reply to this is "I only dream about the beautiful things...we have to get out of here." The sense of displacement the Russians feel is intensified by their (perhaps false) mental images of Russia. Even as they move farther away or acknowledge, like Podtyagin does, that they may never return, the Russians' memories tether them to their home country. Because of these memories, even the diverse group of Russians that we see in the pension are able to establish some sort of commonality.