Barbarians in the Cathedral
I read a summary of the critical reception of Anna Karenina today.
What these critics miss, except for D.H. Lawrence who overstates the case from pagan zeal (and he has Raskolnikov's axe to grind), is that Anna Karenina sets the consciousness of the reader ringing like a bell! Anna Karenina resonates in precisely the same way a grand cathedral filled with constant plainsong might. I mean this very literally. It is sacred.
Who cares what the book means? What does 'means' mean?! In the face of the cathedral purity and aesthetic primacy of the book, intellectual criticism is flat out inadequate.
Yes, the words might be critiqued, but only by aesthetic illiterates; Anna Karenina exists as a transcendent and Platonic solid, a symbolic and timeless space of play, a temenos, an ideal realm - the reader who knows this must revere, then, and keep his head's mouth fast shut.