…I dreamed of trains. The old fashioned kind with grilled triangular fronts and the bodies heavy with black metal. The look of coal trains that chugged their way through the fresh laid tracks of so-called civilization.

The reason for the dream–Anna Karenina. I was watching this 1997 production last night on Bravo, thinking how much they’ve left out, how much they’ve captured, how sad it is, how romantic it is, how lonely it is, how lonely it is to be watching at 1am on a Thurs., how romantic the theme of the book/movie, how sad the realism is, and how poignant the music is with interludes of Rachmaninoff floating throughout the background (I love Rachmaninoff (Moments Musicaux op. 16 no. 3 in b-flat minor, being one of my faves, although I’ve yet to learn how to play it–the b-flat minor is a haunting space)–there’s something so evocative in his music, and it really suits this Tolstoy story, (although most of the movie is underscored by Tchaikovsky, it was the Rachmaninoff that I noticed more) the haunting melodies just underneath, like the world underneath the romance that Tolstoy alludes.

What exactly is it that I love about the realist/pre-modernist novel? I wondered, even as I watched, why am I so drawn to the romance of death, the romance of life, the romance of romance? I love the realist novels–such as Dickens, and Trollope, for the very reason most people hate them, the realism. But I also love them for their romanticism. What was once romantic and realistic to their way of life, is lost to us in the present, and when I read these authors for their realism, and in some way, their small beginnings of existentialism, I enter the unreal, the realm of imagination. I think, even though I dream of being chased by gigantic black metal steam-engines, there’s nothing wrong with that.