"The Kreutzer Sonata" is, to my pleasant surprise, not at all about music. Yet. I mean, it's hard to tell after 1/4 of a short story what will or won't come up over its course. I can say with certainty, that Tolstoy did improve ever so slightly in the few years between this story and "The Death of Ivan Ilych."
I also have to admit that I was pretty excited when I realized that this story takes place on a train. Sort of.
The main character is travelling when he meets a man who ends up sharing his experience of love, and, in so doing, takes over the story. So, of course, what I wrote about how the apparent pointlessness of the early part of "The Death of Ivan Ilych" and being talked to by a random definitely applies to "The Kreutzer Sonata."
Though any tale about the complications of love and its definitions has a place in my heart. It's just so easy to take the concept of love for granted. Reading something philosophical on the topic reminds me that there's so much more to it.
Though the gender relations and perceptions of just what is debauchery in nineteenth century Russia do not age well. I'm not sure I'd have otherwise learned that there were doctors in charge of inspecting prostitutes at contemporary Russian brothels to keep STIs in check, though.
There's also a certain charm to nineteenth century nested stories. The in-story narrator gets characterized with such fine detail that readers really get an insight into him. Not to mention the fact that it allows a writer to bring his narrator's authority into question. And there's the language. Aylmer Maude and J.D. Duff's translation reminds me of Poe in its style.
I would have liked it a bit more, though, if the nineteenth century word for a morphine addict wasn't "morphinist" but simply "morphiend."