Anno Anna

A few very recent, admissibly notable events:

Anna Karenina bolts to No. 1 in bestselling paperback fiction. On her May 27 show, still days before the official announcement, Oprah whispered a few hints to guest Sharon Stone about her next Book Club selection. For any alert lit-critter, Stone’s remarks in response were a dead giveaway: a timeless story, a long novel that isn’t as intimidating as it seems, about a woman of yore, her passions, her todestrieb. This is an event impervious to high-brow snickering: for better if also for (i.e., symptomatic of) worse, Oprah will have done more for this classic than many a literature professor. Just think: across the beaches of North America thousands of women will be reading Tolstoy for the first time! Will there ever have been more copies of a single novel open at the same time under the sun? WGBH Boston seems clued in: this weekend it begins re-airing the 2000 UK/Masterpiece Theatre adaptation, starring Helen McCrory (Anna), Kevin McKidd (Vronsky), Douglas Henshall (Levin), Amanda Root (Dolly; excellent as Anne in Persuasion), and Paul Rhys (Nikolai; excellent in Gallowglass). Ophah’s Book Club proceedings can be found here.

Listening to Furtngler again and more, thanks to the wonderful Wilhelm Furtwängler Orgy on wonderful WHRB. What other conductor, apart from Knappertsbusch, can make Bruckner’s plodding transitions sound so convincing, inevitable even? The EMI remastered 1952 Tristan & Isolde is a fulgent force of nature.

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