Friday, October 5, 2012

Anna Karenina's Paper Knife

by Adriana

When it's quiet around the dinner table it usually means the meal is especially satisfying.

And so it's been quiet here on the blog  as I've been mowing through Leo Tolstoy's 923 page gem, Anna Karenina.

I thought I'd peak my head in today to let you in on something new --

I've started a collection!

Ever since I read The Happiness Project last summer, I've been thinking about taking Gretchin Rubin's advice to collect something. But what? (I'm not big on knick-knacks.)

On my Pinterest page you will find a board called "Quotes from my Quest". These are not merely random pithy quotes that I've found while roaming the internet, they are quotes I've found on my own while holding a #2 Ticonderoga pencil in my hand! A couple of the images on the board are pictures I've taken myself.

My collection is currently small, but you can be sure I'm keeping it in mind as I read. I love to make connections between great quotes and great images!

Here's a tip: My main source for images on this board is Wiki Paintings the Visual Arts Encyclopedia. I discovered it very recently and I'm enthralled. It is vast, well organized and the image quality is good. You can view many paintings by pretty much any famous artist. You can also choose to view an artist's work chronologically or alphabetically.

Currently I've been intrigued by Russian artist, Konstantin Makovsky. Born in Moscow; died in Saint Petersburg -- he painted a lot of portraits of Russian aristocracy during the time Tolstoy was writing his novels.

Would you like to know what led me to Makovsky?

It was Anna Karenina's paper knife.

I came upon this while pinning images --

P. Makovsky by Konstantin Makovsky    "...twisting the smooth paper knife in her little hands, she forced herself to read." Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy  via

At first glance, a scene from Anna Karenina came to mind.

Remember the part where Anna had just boarded the train to Saint Petersburg?
Still in the same anxious frame of mind as she had been all day...she took from her bag a paper knife and an English novel.. twisting the smooth paper knife in her little hands, she forced herself to read.
Of course I had to find out who painted this. I did not expect to find it was one of Tolstoy's contemporaries!

Here's a few more of my favorites by Makovsky --

 Petersburg Patio - Konstantin Makovsky

Portrait of an Unknown - Konstantin Makovsky

Before the Wedding - Konstantin Makovsky

Portrait of Hudenkova - Konstantin Makovsky
This is how I imagine Dolly Oblonskaya.
So now that I've told you all about my fun new hobby, I want to encourage you to try it for yourself. If you come across a great image that makes you think of a classic quote you've read, I would love for you to share both the image and the quote with me!

First, be sure to link your source.

Second, put your image/quote combo somewhere where I can see it! It really doesn't matter where --  the Classical Quest Facebook page, your blog or your own Pinterest board (just leave your link in the comment box).

Third, keep it clean.  I'll delete anything I consider inappropriate.

If I get enough feedback, I'll eventually start a new board on Pinterest called "Quotes from YOUR Quest".

I expect this will take a while because reading through the classics and making connections is a long process, but I'm not going anywhere in a hurry. You know where to find me!

Happy collecting!


  1. What a wonderful idea! I had to stop my collecting because I ran out of room for my collections. I love art and I love quotes, and I'll love the fact it won't clutter up my house. I may just add mine to my post ( if I find a piece of art ).

    Thank you so much for the tip! I've been using Wikipedia Commons for finding art -- it looks like things will be easier to find in Wiki Paintings. :)

    1. I'm hope you enjoy Wiki Painting as much as I have so far!

      I must say I really enjoyed visiting your blog today. Absolutely lovely. I think you've convinced me to read Dracula! (After I'm finished with the WEM list of course.)


    2. I enjoyed your visit, too. :). I really admire your discipline with following the WEM list. I have that book, too. I thought about trying out her questions on a few books to see if they will help me in organizing my thoughts or thing about things I wouldn't of thought about. :)

      Have a wonderful day!

    3. The best part about following WEM is the perspective you gain from reading through history's greatest hits in chronological order. After a while you start to notice one novel's influence on another.

      I'm really excited about starting the autobiography list next year. Let me know if that list is something that interests you. :)

      And of course you are welcome to join me for any titles you wish!

    4. I looked over that list and it looks great! I would love to join you next year -- my pace will be slow though. :) I hope that will be okay.

    5. Oh yea! How exciting!
      I think you will find my pace to be pretty realistic since I have five kids.

      I'd also love to introduce you to my rhetoric partners:

      We have a few followers who do not have blogs. We correspond via email and through comments.

      Also, there are a few other bloggers who occasionally join us for specific titles here and there.

    6. That sounds wonderful! :) Will you be starting in January or later on in the year?

    7. I've consulted with my exceedingly wise rhetoric partner, Christina (who also has five children, plus she homeschools!). We have 18 titles left on the novel list. She thinks a more realist goal for starting the autobiography list is more like January 2015!

      I suppose that is rather far into the future for me to be enticing people with invitations! Nevertheless, you ARE invited to join us anytime along the way!

    8. Ha! I'll just join you sometime on one of the novels you'll be reading, no worries. :)

  2. How interesting! Thanks for giving me some visuals to consider as I read AK. (and may I way that a paper knife is substantially larger than I ever imagined!)

  3. Makovsky's paintings are captivating. It's amazing how softened the look is and how stunning at the same time. It's like they grab you by the eyeballs and pull you in.


  4. What a cool idea!

    I never heard of Wiki Paintings before but I've got it bookmarked now!

  5. I'm so glad you've found something to collect that makes your heart happy. :-) You've inspired me to read Anna Karenina and I just got it last week and hope to start this week. :-) I collect books and pashminas and rings. :-) They make me happy. :-)

    1. Pashminas and rings! How delightful. My nine year old daughter, the fashionista, would certainly approve! (I hope I can introduce her to you someday Krista dear! :)

      And how fun that you're starting Anna Karenina soon. I can't wait to find out what you think! Blessings friend.

  6. I started Part 8 last night! I am almost finished but I fell asleep. Today I finish the book!

    1. WOW! I'm impressed. You're a machine Melissa! I'm on Part V, Chapter 7.

      So, you think you might try to answer the inquiry this time? No pressure, just curious. C&P was my first.


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