I am sitting by the window of my bedroom gazing outside as snowflakes brush the glass. Feeling warmth in winter creates a singular path to the sublime, most potent at night, as the details are for the most part, dimmed. I am reading Leo Tolstoy’s seminal novel, Anna Karenina. The warm yellow glow of my lamp coats the pages, further accentuating my break from reality. As I read, I become aware of certain excesses of style, but allow for them simply because my reading mode is leisurely, not critical, and also because one cannot ignore the contexts that influenced Tolstoy’s work. Yet as a modern writer (unavoidably), the instinctive urge to make sentences most efficient still prods me; but to reword even a few lines could vastly distort the work, doing much harm to its voice and meaning(s).
I truly enjoy and appreciate the novel, and much can be learned from Tolstoy. But I cannot and should not write in accordance to his style. Despite certain authors—and they are legion—who write as if the twentieth century never happened, it is of paramount importance to examine one’s surroundings and always consider reasonable modes of progress.