Thursday, October 23, 2014

Anna Karenina, a New Translation by Rosamund Bartlett

When I saw that Oxford University Press had a new translation of "Anna Karenina" available on NetGalley I decided it was time to revisit the novel. Rosamund Bartlett is a Tolstoy scholar and her translation was remarkably readable.

The novel explores marriage through the stories of several couples.

The title character, Anna, is a remarkable woman with great inner and outer beauty who wins everyone's love and esteem. But she has never loved her husband, a workaholic man twenty years her elder. When the debonair Count Vronsky falls in love with Anna and pursues her she resists for a year then gives herself to him. Eventually Anna leaves her husband. Even when her husband forgives Anna he won't divorce her, believing that divorce would leave her unprotected should Vronsky abandon her. Unable to wed, Anna and Vronsky cannot appear in society as a couple, leaving and Anna feels isolated and alone. Plus, Anna has been separated from her son. She becomes emotionally frail and dependent on morphine, her insecurity and neediness pushing Vronsky away.

Levin loves Kitty who rejects his proposal because she thought she was being wooed by the more exciting Vronsky-- until Anna came along. Levin returns to his farm and struggles with the meaning of life before he and Kitty are reunited and married. Marriage is a struggle, full of clashes and misunderstandings, and yet the marriage survives and Levin finds a kind of faith and happiness.

The fading Dolly is married to the philandering Oblonsky, Anna's brother. She struggles to provide for her children while her husband spends money he does not have, enjoys society, and enjoys his women.

Anna should have been happy having the man she loved, a man who loved her. She frets constantly: should she ask for a divorce; she feels the loss of her son; she chafes at the isolation of her position. She reads and educates herself and takes on a ward and enjoys being her teacher. She and Vronsky have a daughter together. Vronsky badly wants to marry Anna and give his name to their children. Anna decided not to have more children, fearing it will ruin her figure and compromise her sexual attractiveness to Vronsky. Jealously and doubt are fed when Vronsky needs a life beyond a happy home and he enters into local politics.

Everyone knows how the story ends. We first see Anna when she arrives by train to help her sister and brother-in-law's marital troubles. A man is killed when he falls in front of her train--a very obvious foreshadowing.

What stuck with me this reading was Anna's use of drugs to sleep, and the question of how much her addiction affected her. Was her anxiety, depression and eventual suicide a result of cocaine use? Tolstoy does not address this issue. Drug addiction to morphine was not uncommon in the 19th c. My brother and I read From The Narrow Passage by David T. Gochenour, a distant relative. His wife was a secret addict when they married, and her unreliable behavior sent him to practice medicine on a ship for many years, traveling to Alaska and the Philippines.

It is hard to understand why an intelligent woman, living with the man she loves, and with no concerns of health or money, would fall prey to her imagination. From today's perspective, the use of drugs helps to explain her vulnerability. But it was not an issue dwelt on by Tolstoy.

Anna Karenina has long chapters that reveal Levin's position as a landowner, employer and farmer, which were hardly engaging to read. I just could not get into agricultural reform and labor problems after the freeing of the serfs. Sorry, Levin. I appreciate that Tolstoy included Levin's interests as part of his quest for meaning and faith. Attitudes of the characters on these issues reveal their values and personality. And it was in this work that Levin finds solace and meaning.

I was surprised to come across the stream-of-consciousness passages when Anna was at the train yard looking for Vronsky, and where she ultimately opted for suicide. This was a new device in literature. I felt the method very well illustrated Anna's internal conflict, her inability to focus and control her feelings or reason.

Broiderie Anglaise from
Kitty nurses Levin's dying brother, bringing her Brodiere Anglaise needlework with her. It was not a term I was familiar with. "English embroidery" was a whitework embroidery involving punched holes in the fabric finished with satin stitch. We are quite familiar with the mass produced versions--eyelet cutwork lace.

Articles on this translation say it is closer to Tolstoy's original, revealing his style and word choice better than previous translations. I did notice times where a word was used three times in two sentences, and it bothered me. I was interested to learn that it was Tolstoy's choice.

I am glad I read Anna Karenina again. I am not sure I will read it again in my lifetime. This was a good translation for my rereading.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Translated by Rosamund Bartlett
Oxford University Press
ISBN 9780199232086
Publication date November 15, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Art, Friendship, Love, Sex and Inventing Modernism

Vanessa and Her Sister_cover.jpgBefore reading Priya Parmar's book Vanessa and Her Sister I knew very little about the Stephen family and the Bloomsbury Group. I had read many books by Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster. I recognized the names of Roger Fry and Vanessa and Clive Bell, and knew that Lytton Stachey wrote Eminent Victorians. John Maynard Keynes I knew was an important economist. But I had never studied them. I requested this book from NetGalley hoping to learn more.

The story is presented through the fictional pages of a diary kept by artist Vanessa Stephen, sister of Virginia Stephen (who later married Leonard Woolf). Their brother Thoby Stephen brings home his Cambridge University chums and they form a weekly meeting to discuss art and life and to gossip about their friends. They each go on to prominence as artists, writers, publishers, art critics, and philosophers. Interspersed with the diary entries are letters and telegrams to other group members, sent by Roger Fry, Leonard Woolf, and Lytton Stachey. The Bloomsbury men shifted their relationships between friend and lover, some later entering into relationships with women as well.

I was quite charmed from the first by Vanessa's voice. Although she tells us that Virginia insists she is not a "word" person, Vanessa is lyrical and visual in her descriptive language. Virginia needs careful handling; she can be charming and witty, cruel and selfish, and is prone to emotional breakdowns. She has also perfected the art of manipulation, and is always self-centered. Vanessa raises doubts about her sister's sexual orientation, and some thought that Virginia only ever loved her older sister Vanessa.

At first their gatherings seem splendid and full of fun with Thorby as the center. After his loss things go awry, and relationships alter. Vanessa marries Clive Bell, and Virginia jealously tries to inveigle herself between them. Alliances shift, lovers trade off, stodgy 19th c values are flaunted. We think the 1960s were radical? This group was breaking all the rules in the first decade of the century!

The novel ends rather in the middle of things, with the author offering a brief description of what became of the major players. The more well known group members included the author E. M. Forster; author Virginia Woolf ; artists Vanessa and Clive Bell; biographer Lytton Stachey; art critic Roger Fry and artist Helen Fry; artist Duncan Grant; poet Rupert Brooke; economist John Maynard Keynes; Leonard Woolf, Civil Service and later publisher and husband to Virginia.

I went online to research and learn more, and there was a lot more to learn. I suppose all books have to end somewhere. I would have liked to read about another decade or two about them. It was like a soap opera bred with High Art to produce a tale about geniuses throwing themselves against all the 'artificial' boundaries, trying to reinvent art and life.

The Virginia Woolf Blog has articles on Virginia and Clive Bell's flirtation. See Vanessa's paintings at

Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel by Priya Parmar
Random House Publishing House-Ballantine
Publication Dec 30, 2014
ISBN 9780804276378

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

There and Back Again

This past weekend we went to Grand Rapids, MI and stayed with friends. My husband attended a seminar on self-publishing and my friend and I went to all of her favorite thrift and consignment shops. I found some great vintage fabric.
vintage polished cotton

Four yards of this cute folksy print
 I had to get this cotton towel.

On our way home on Sunday we stopped at the Williamston Antiques Market. I bought some vintage handkerchiefs.

There were quite a number of quilts, nothing uncommon or mint. They also had loads of glassware, china, and pottery.

How about a bathing costume? 

We stopped at the Tanger outlet mall near Howell where I found some cute fox oven mitts at the Corelle store. Shiba Inu owners like foxes because Shibas are so fox-like in appearance. So of course I bought a set!

Last stop was Ray's ice cream, a local store with it's own ice cream. I had Coconut with dark chocolate sauces. Yummy!

I received my order of Gatsby fabric. I had ran across this line while noodling around online last week. I have it in mind to make a Gatsby quilt. More on that later.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Recipes from the October 1962 Family Circle Magazine

The October 1962 Family Circle Magazine recipe sections included roasts, meat pies and seasonal baking.
"Apples and spice make these desserts nice." Pictured is an Apple Crown Cake, Apple-Snow Souffle, a Banbury Apple Tart, and an Apple Cobbler Pie.

The Apple-Snow Souffle is "fluffy light and refreshing with a now-and-then bite of apple--and it unmolds beautifully."
Here's the recipe:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  1. Coat a 4-cup mold with butter; dust lightly with sugar; tap out excess.
  2. Saute 2 cups of sliced, pared and cored apples in 1/2 stick of butter, stirring often, for about 20 mins or until golden but not mushy. Set aside.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Stir in 3 tablespoons flour and a dash of salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in 2/3 cup of milk slowly, stirring, and add 1/2 tsp of vanilla. Cook, stirring, until it reaches a boil. Cool.
  4. Beat 3 egg whites until they form peaks.
  5. Beat 3 egg yolks, gradually adding 3 tablespoons of sugar. Blend in cooled sauce, then apples. Fold in beaten egg whites.
  6. Pour into mold. Set mold in baking pan filled with water and place on oven shelf. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes,, or until puffed and firm and in the center when touched.
  7. Remove mold from pan of water. Let stand, away from drafts, until cool, about 15 minutes, and it will hold its shape when turned out.
  8. Loosen edge with knife; cover with serving plate; turn mold upside down on the plate and lift off. Spoon 2 tablespoons of Grenadine syrup over and ut into wedges.

Roasts were a special dinner in my household. This magazine offers 5 roast recipes making 10 meals. It also included meat pies, like the Continental Veal pie in the photograph below. Other meat pies included Beef and Kidney, Canadian Pork Pie, Crisscross Chicken Pie, and Clam Digger's pie.

Here is the recipe for the unusual Clam Digger's Pie:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  1. Prepare a package of pie crust mix, or make your own, to create two 12" rounds to fit into a 9" pie plate. Place one crust in the pie plate.
  2. Drain two 11 ounce cans of minced clams reserving 2/3 cup of the liquid in a bowl. Add the clams, 3/4 cup of milk, 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup unsalted soda cracker crumbs, 1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper. Spoon into shell and dot with 2 tablespoons of butter.
  3. Roll out other pie crust and cover pie. Cut slits to let steam escape. Trim overhang to 1/2" and fold under flush with rim and flute.
  4. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake another 30 minutes, or until golden.

Carolina Rice advertising photograph
They caught the dreaded bacon-snitcher in the act! Bacon has had a revival today.

What would be served for "casual get-togethers" in 1962? One menu plan included Sea-food Lasagna, Savory Green Beans and Romaine-cucumber salad, a fruit and cheese tray, bread sticks, and Expresso with lemon peel. Sounds healthy enough.

Here is the recipe for
Seafood Lasagna
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  1. Cook a 1/2 pound of lasagna noodles in boiling water with olive oil added to prevent sticking. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and cover with cold water.
  2. Thaw 2 cans of frozen condensed cream of shrimp soup in a large saucepan, stirring. Stir in 2 7-ounce cans of king crab meat. Heat until bubbly.
  3. Blend 1 pound of cottage cheese and 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese with 1 cup of chopped onion, 1 beaten egg, 2 tsps of basil, 1 tsp of salt and 1/3 tsp of pepper.
  4. Lightly oil a 13"x 9"x 2" baking dish and line with a layer of noodles. Top with half of cheese mixture, another layer of noodles, and all of the crab sauce. Arrange four sliced ripe tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with 2 tsps of sugar. (Casserole can be chilled for later use at this point, just let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes first.)
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes; Sprinkle with 1 cup of grated Cheddar cheese and bake 45 minutes longer, or until crusty brown. Cool for 15 minutes and cut into 8 servings.
Here are some of today's versions of Seafood Lasagna:

Cooking Light's Seafood Lasagna uses canned crabmeat and fresh shrimp, low fat cottage cheese, and no-cook lasagna noodles.

The New York Times version uses fresh seafood and half-and-half.

Stoneyfield uses Greek yogurt and adds lobster and has less fat.

And Eating Well has an even lower fat version with almost no cheese.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 1962 Home Decorating: When Turquoise Was King Continues

The October 1962 Family Circle magazine's feature story was on furniture arranging. The photos show a nice overview of decorating styles in '62.
I love this cover arrangement with the wonderful MCM settees, the console, and the octagonal coffee table. The blue, green and gold fabric on the settees is way cool. That antique gold/green carpet is an unusual color.

The next photo is their "conversation sparking" arrangement, an area adjacent to the dining area. Very traditional, but with an aqua/turquoise color in the upholstery, drapery, and even the table runner.

The "interest wall" was the focal point in the room below. If you don't have a fireplace or window as a focal point, they suggested creating one. Here walnut boards are supported by metal keyhole strips and brackets.
The colors of blue and green are more primary in tone, but the rug and chair appear a deeper turquoise in the original photo. Can you find the television? It's almost a Where's Waldo moment, the television is so tiny compared to today's monstrous ones. Who needs a "focal point" when the television has taken that role?

In the next photos the windows are the focal point of the rooms. The upper photo has "no wall-hugging sofas or chairs," a definite turquoise color scheme, and is quite informal with floor pillows and a window seat.

The lower photo shows a room with two focal points, the fireplace and the window. They suggest alternating the placement of the sofas: at right angles to the window in summer, and in front of the fireplace in winter. The couches, wall, and drapes are turquoise in the original photo.

Dual purpose study/guest room includes a day bed. The bed covering is a turquoise and brown floral print, and the drapes a deep brown in the original photo.

The photo below shows more great MCM furniture in turquoise with a matching rug. Notice the great wall unit with shelves, drawers, and flip down desk. Is that is asphalt tile flooring, or perhaps linoleum? In 1963 Dad redid our bedroom floors with linoleum tiles.

A traditional Colonial look with a brown couch in the foreground and chairs across from it. The paneling on the walls was quite the rage. Our 1966 house has wood paneling in the family room and Dad had installed it in the basement in 1972.
And last of all, a sleeper sofa in a turquoise print has matching chair and lamp, a turquoise and golden colored rug, and  a painting with deeper blues. The table has a magazine are, and is to the side for easy opening of the sofa bed. On my monitor the turquoise is showing up green. :(
A nice article on fall flower arranging has some great photos.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Green Heroes Completed. Finally.

I finally completed my quilt on ecologists, naturalists, nature activists, writers, legislators, and other "green" heroes. I started it in 2012. I embroidered the portraits and names on green and set the blocks with a green leaf print on black.

Aldo Leopold, "A Sand County Almanac" author
I wanted to try something new. I decided to quilt images representing the different 'heroes' achievements. I don't think it is really successful. There is too much unquilted space.

I found the dark border fabric very hard to quilt. I used a green thread darker than the block fabrics. I quilted around the leaf shapes in the inner border and did a Methodist (sometimes called Baptist) fan in the outer border.

I hated doing the quilting, every one and a half spools of thread of it. Partly because the dark fabric  made it hard to see the quilting, but also because I was so unsatisfied with the quilting...perhaps because I could not see it! I started it on my quilt frame, but found it was hard on my back and switched to a hoop.

The quilting took all winter and all summer and into the fall. It was packed up for three months or more because of moving. I lived in three addresses while I worked on it.

To illustrate how I did the quilting design, here is John James Audubon.

I chose his turkey illustration for the left side area behind his head.

Here is what the quilting looks like; I turned the photo into black and white so that the stitching shows up better.

Lois Gibbs, the grass roots organizer of Love Canal, has the danger sign on the left and a house and swing set on the right. I wrote a blog post about her on Nov. 5, 2012 found here:

It is one of my posts with the most traffic.

For Pete Seeger, the Clearwater sloop is in the background to represent his work with the Hudson River "Clearwater" Revival
And of course his banjo with it's famous saying also appears in the quilting.

I finished the binding today while watching Ken Burn's series The Roosevelts on TiVo. Teddydied in the episode I was watching. Of course he is on my quilt because of his work creating the national park system. 

Only a few of the drawing used for the embroidery were created by me. The rest were drawings from Better World Heroes "Eco Heroes," There are twenty "heroes" on the quilt.

All I need now is a label and a sunny day for a good photograph.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Autumn Leaves

Over twenty years ago while walking in town I saw red-orange leaves against the clear blue autumn sky. The image stuck in my head. About fifteen years ago I taught a continuing adult education class on "old fashioned" quilting, and made Maple Leaf blocks to demonstrate hand sewing quilt blocks.

And it came to me to use those pieced blocks with the image of those leaves to make a quilt.

I used all hand dyed fabrics, some purchased and some which I had dyed. The quilt is hand appliqued and hand quilted with a 'curlicue' design.

The branches in the central panel are knotted in places. I used bleach to remove color from the central leaves, and made dots with a Pigma permanent marker for shadowing.

Fall was always my favorite time of year. I loved the colors and the cool weather.

Now I am older, it makes me think of the coming winter, the cold, and the long sunless days until spring.