The Kreutzer Sonata (1889)

The Kreutzer Sonata Cover

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”

Warning : this book is not recommended for man who will walk in the aisle tomorrow or spell their life-time agreement with his future-woman tomorrow. Any consequences to withdraw your married will be on your own commitment.

This is a controversial novella -well no wonder-, written by Leo Tolstoy more than a century before I was born. I know Tolstoy from his ‘War and Peace’ and one of his quotation that I remembered on that master piece, stated

I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself.
(War and Peace)

Well, put aside my blabbering about ‘War and Peace’, now I move to tell you the story of ‘the Kreutzer Sonata’. I wonder, why did I bought this little novela? Well, the controversial things are stated behind of this book – which stated in Indonesian-, saying that

… perempuan menguasai lelaki dengan pakaian dan segala asesoris mereka yang menggugah hasrat seksual lelaki. Secara kasat mata, perempuan memposisikan diri sebagai objek yang dinikmati lelaki; lelaki yang memilih perempuan. Namun tanpa disadari, lelaki telah terjebak. Berhenti di titik ini, perempuanlah yang memilih lelaki; berkuasa atas lelaki.

Then I picked up the book and queue to cashier. I wonder, what Tolstoy wanted to share to us moreover do my ‘feminist’ side will be disturbed by his writing. In fact, rather than being disturbed, I feel sorry over Tolstoy -or what he called Posdnicheff in this novela.

Main character of this novela named Posdnicheff, an old man who overhears chit-chat among passengers in the train about love and marriage. He gave his opposite perspective towards marriage and the value of marriage sacredness. He argued that

” Dan kemudian apa? Kata Anda pernikahan didasarkan pada cinta, dan ketika saya menyatakan keraguan tentang adanya cinta selain cinta hawa nafsu, Anda membuktikan kepada saya keeradaan cinta dengan pernikahan. Tetapi pada zaman kita ini pernikahan hanyalah sebuah kekerasan dan kekeliruan.”

What was said by this old man wasn’t a bluff. The entire argument was based on his own experiences on marriage. He fell in love, he got married, he out of loved and murdered his wife.

Anti physical contact, Anti-birth control, Sexist and at last (i think) seems to justify murder. Posdnicheff justified his action to murder his own wife as she might have cheated on him – even he didn’t really see the prof at all. Under several circumstances, this book is written really well which can be appreciated as Tolstoy dare to create such contradiction on marriage. Even though several might disagree and censored by Russian authorities.

Started with Posdnicheff little story about his slumber marriage life that was created since he was child;

“.., sejak kecil saya sudah mengimpikan akan menjalani kehidupan rumah tangga yang agung dan puitis. Istri saya kelak adalah seorang wanita sempurna, perasaan saling mencintai di antara kami tiada banding, kesucian hidup di rumah tangga kami benar-benar tanpa cela. Saya berpikir demikian, dan saya selalu terkagum-kagum dengan kemuliaan cita-cita saya.”

Then all of the story flew away on to his teenager life as a well-mannered man, which may you find not so true. That’s the way of he think he was. And finally in his last thirty, he ended his adventure when he met a young lady. He perfectly pictured his future lady to spent his entire life in this woman, but in the end he was wrong. As he said ;

Ya, dan saya juga terperangkap gara-gara baju rajutan, kerangka rok, dan rambut keriting

Well, I can’t easily picture the entire story in short to get the morale. You need to read it first before assumed that is it about anti-feminist, or is it about a crazy man who killed his wife or is it about. What I can say positively that Posdnicheff wanted to us to get the pessimistic side of love and marriage it self before you really fell in. That is why, this book isn’t recommended for those who will getting married soon -afraid that it might increase your skepticism about your future plan.


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