Apr 28, Pages. Mar 28, Pages. A rich and complex masterpiece, the novel charts the disastrous course of a love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer. Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together the lives of dozens of characters, and in doing so captures a breathtaking tapestry of late-nineteenth-century Russian society.
As Matthew Arnold wrote in his celebrated essay on Tolstoy, "We are not to take Anna Karenina as a work of art; we are to take it as a piece of life. A magnificent drama of vengeance, infidelity, and retribution, Anna Karenina portrays the moving story of people whose emotions conflict with the dominant social mores of their time. Sensual, rebellious Anna falls deeply and passionately in love with the handsome Count Vronsky.
When she refuses to conduct the discreet affair that her cold, ambitious husband and Russian high society would condone, she is doomed. Set against the tragic love of Anna and Vronsky, the plight of the melancholy nobleman Konstantine Levin unfolds. In Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy brought to perfection the novel of social realism and created a masterpiece that bared the Russian soul. A famous legend surrounding the creation of Anna Karenina tells us that Tolstoy began writing a cautionary tale about adultery and ended up falling in love with his magnificent heroine.
Anna Karenina is filled with major and minor characters who exist in their own right and fully embody their mid-nineteenth-century Russian milieu, but it still belongs entirely to the woman whose name it bears, whose portrait is one of the truest ever made by a writer. Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.
This edition, the famous Constance Garnett translation, has been revised throughout by Leonard J. Kent and Nina Berberova. Petersburg high society in the later half of the nineteenth century. A sophisticated woman who is respectably married to a government bureaucrat, Anna begins a passionate, all-consuming involvement with a rich army officer. Refusing to conduct a discreet affair, she scandalizes society by abandoning both her husband and her young son for Count Vronsky—with tragic consequences.
Taken together, the two plots embroider a vast canvas that ultimately encompasses all levels of Russian society. Leo Tolstoy — was born in central Russia. After serving in the Crimean War, he retired to his estate and devoted himself to writing, farming, and raising his large family. His novels and outspoken social polemics brought him world fame. Join Reader Rewards and earn your way to a free book! Join Reader Rewards and earn points when you purchase this book from your favorite retailer. Read An Excerpt. The fire around the book blazed high for a good ten minutes, the first minute of which was colored by the inks of the cover, then it tumbled off its prop log and into the heart of the coals, disappearing forever.
I cheered and danced and exorcised that book from my system.
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I felt better. I was cleansed of my communion with those whiny Russians. And I vowed in that moment to never again allow myself to get locked into a book I couldn't stand; it's still hard, but I have put a few aside. Since the burning of Anna Karenina there have been a few books that have followed it into the flames. Some because I loved them and wanted to give them an appropriate pyre, some because I loathed them and wanted to condemn them to the fire. I don't see Nazis marching around the flames anymore either.
I see a clear mountain night, I taste bad wine and hot dogs, I hear wind forty feet up in the tops of the trees, I smell the chemical pong of toxic ink, and I feel the relief of never having to see Anna Karenina on my bookshelf again. I feel much better now. In lieu of a proper review of my favorite book, and in addition to the remark that it would be more aptly named Konstantin Levin , I present to you the characters of Anna Karenina in a series of portraits painted by dead white men. View all 51 comments. That is the highlight of this book. But that was just a well told story that ends with her unfortunate fate.
Anything could happen to us in life and we have free will to choose our lifestyle, no matter the consequences. Jun 25, PM. If you have read this book, please proceed. If you are never going to read this novel be honest with yourself , then please proceed. If you may read this novel, but it may be decades in the future, then please proceed. Trust me, you are not going to remember, no matter how compelling a review I have written.
If you need Tolstoy talking points for your next cocktail party or soiree with those literary, black wearing, pseudo intellectual friends of yours, then this review will come in handy. If they pin you to the board like a bug over some major plot twist, that will be because I have not shared any of those. If this happens, do not despair; refer them to my review.
Exchange them for other more enlightened intellectual friends. This fulfillment showed him the eternal error men make in imagining that their happiness depends on the realization of their desires. She dutifully produced a son for him and settled into a life of social events and extravagant clothes and enjoyed a freedom from financial worries. Maybe this life would have continued for her if she had never met Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky, but more than likely, her midlife crisis, her awareness of the passage of time, would have compelled her to seek something more.
And what now? If he killed me, if he killed him, I could bear it all, I could forgive it all, but no, he…. Maybe he was too contented with their life together and, therefore, took their relationship for granted. She wanted passion from him even if it was to murder her lover and herself. Even if it was something tragic, she wanted something to happen, something that would make her feel The same face was always going to greet her in the mirror.
The same thoughts were always going to swim their way back to the surface. We can not mask the problems within ourselves by changing lovers. The mask will eventually slip, and all will be revealed. Ugly can be very pretty. Is there such a thing as being too beautiful? Can being so beautiful make someone cold, disdainful, and unable to really feel empathy or even connected to those around them?
Her type of beauty is a shield that insulates her even as her insecurities swing the sword that stabs the hearts of those who despise her and those who love her. He was a well meaning, wealthy landowner who, unusually for the times, went out and worked the land himself. He got his hands dirty enough that one could actually call him a farmer. He was led to believe by his friends and even the Shcherbatsky family that their youngest daughter, Kitty, would be an affable match for him.
Stiva was recently caught and forgiven for having a dalliance with a household staff, but no sooner was he out of that boiling water of that affair before he was having liaisons with a ballerina. This did lead me to believe that life would never be satisfying for either Stiva or his sister Anna because there was always going to be pretty butterflies to chase as the attractiveness of the one they had began to fade. That was like catching a molotok hammer right between the eyes as a serp sickle swept Kostya off his feet.
It was almost enough for me start chain smoking Turkish cigarettes or biting my nails down to the quick while I waited for the outcome. Tolstoy was brilliant at rounding out characters so our preconceived notions or the projections of ourselves that we place upon them are forced to be modified as we discover more about them. Levin had his own problems.
He had been reading the great philosophers, looking for answers. He found more questions than answers in religion. He abandoned every lifeboat he climbed into and swam for the next one. And I cannot know that, therefore I cannot live. It is irrefutable. Well, there is a lot of eternal lying down going on, but no duplicity. None of us are going to escape the reaper. No one is ascending on a cloud or going to the crossroads to make a deal with the Devil. So the question that Levin ended up asking himself, the Biggest question even beyond, why am I here? Without immortality, everything we attempt to do can seem futile.
Some would make the case that we live on in our kids and grandkids. I say bugger to that. I want more time! Well, there are ways to be immortal, and one of them is to write a masterpiece like Anna Karenina that will live forever. By the end, I am ready to throttle Anna until her pretty eyes bug out of her head and her cheeks turn a vibrant pink, but at the same time, she seemed to be suffering from a host of mental disorders.
She was so cut off from everyone and so disdainful of everyone. I had to believe her loathing of people was a projection of how she felt about herself. She needed to find some satisfaction in the ordinary and quit believing that a change in geography or in lovers was ever going to fix what was wrong with herself.
She had such a destructive personality. Two men tried to kill themselves over her. Her feelings of being stifled were perfectly natural. We all feel that way at points in our lives. We feel trapped by the circumstances of our life. She sacrificed everything to chase a dream. The dream ate her.
This book is a masterpiece, not just a Russian masterpiece but a true gift to the world of literature. View all 66 comments. People are going to have to remember that this is the part of the review that is entirely of my own opinion and what I thought of the book, because what follows isn't entirely positive, but I hope it doesn't throw you off the book entirely and you still give it a chance.
They owe me hardcore now. As does Mr. This book was an extremely long read, not because of it's size and length ne People are going to have to remember that this is the part of the review that is entirely of my own opinion and what I thought of the book, because what follows isn't entirely positive, but I hope it doesn't throw you off the book entirely and you still give it a chance. This book was an extremely long read, not because of it's size and length necessarily, but because of it's content.
More often than not I found myself suddenly third a way down the page after my mind wandered off to other thoughts but I kept on reading You know, totally zoning out but continuing to read? The subject I passed over though was so thoroughly boring that I didn't bother going back to re-read it Leo Tolstoy really enjoys tangents. Constantly drifting away from the point of the book to go off on three page rants on farming methods, political policies and elections, or philosophical discussion on God.
Even the dialogue drifted off in that sort of manner. Tolstoy constantly made detail of trifling matters, while important subjects that added to what little plot line this story had were just passed over. Here is a small passage that is a wonderful example of what constantly takes place throughout the book: "Kostia, look out! There's a bee! Won't he sting?
Give us your theory," demanded Katavasof, evidently provoking Levin to a discussion. Just a small example of how Tolstoy focuses much more on philosophical thought, and thought in general, more than any sort of action that will progress the story further. That's part of the reason the story took so long to get through. The editing and translation of the version I got also wasn't very good.
Kit reckons that that's part of the reason I didn't enjoy it as much, and I am apt to agree with her. If you do decide to read this book, your better choice is to go with the Oprah's Book Club edition of Anna Karenina. The characters weren't too great either and I felt only slightly sympathetic for them at certain moments. The women most often were whiny and weak while the men seemed cruel and judgemental more often than not. Even Anna, who was supposedly strong-willed and intelligent would go off on these irrational rants. The women were constantly jealous and the men were always suspicious.
There's not much else to say that I haven't already said. There were only certain spots in the book which I enjoyed in the littlest, and even then I can't remember them. But remember this is just one girl's opinion, if it sounded like a book you might enjoy I highly advise going out to read it. Just try and get the Oprah edition. View all 79 comments. Not since I read The Brothers Karamazov have I felt as directly involved in characters' worlds and minds. I was hooked on Anna Karenina from the opening section when I realized that Tolstoy was brilliantly portraying characters' thoughts and motivations in all of their contradictory, complex truth.
However, Tolstoy's skill is not just in characterization--though he is the master of that art. His prose invokes such passion. There were parts of the book that took my breath because I re Not since I read The Brothers Karamazov have I felt as directly involved in characters' worlds and minds. There were parts of the book that took my breath because I realized that what I was reading was pure feeling: when we realize that Anna is no longer pushing Vronsky away, when Levin proposes to Kitty, and later when Levin thinks about death.
The book effectively threw a shroud over me and sucked me in--I almost missed my train stop a couple of times. That being said, there were some parts that were difficult to get through. I felt myself slowing down in Part VI. I was back in through the remainder of the book once I hit Part VII, but I understand how the deep dive into politics and farming can be off-putting. Still, in those chapters Tolstoy's characters are interacting, and it's incredible to see them speak and respond to one another. It's not only worth the trouble, but deep down, it's no trouble at all.
It's to be savored, and sometimes we must be forced to slow down and think about the characters' daily life as they navigate around in their relationships. A word about this translation. When I was in college I attempted to read the Constance Garnett translation. I didn't stop because it was awful I think finals came up, then the holidays, then more classes, etc. However, I never really felt like the words were as powerful as they should have been. Years later, the only image that stuck in my mind was of Levin meeting Kitty at the ice skating rink.
I just never really entered the world of Anna Karenina , perhaps my fault more than anything. However, the diction and sentence construction in Pevear and Volokhonsky's translation is poetic and justifies the title "masterpiece. Each word has its place. Understandably, many are unwilling to give themselves to this book. Many expect it to do all of the work.
But it's an even better read because if the reader works, the experience of reading this book is incredible. View all 16 comments. Tolstoy draws a portrait of three marriages or relationships that could not be more different. Anna Karenina is rightly called a masterpiece. Moreover Tolstoy does not spare on social socialism and describes the beginnings of communism, deals with such existential themes as birth and death and the meaning of life. He also seems like a close observer of human passions, feelings and emotions. All in all I was touched by his b Tolstoy draws a portrait of three marriages or relationships that could not be more different.
All in all I was touched by his book because it was one of the most impressive books I have ever read. View all 27 comments. Set in s Florida, a lector arrives at a cigar factory to read daily installments of Anna Karenina to the workers there. Although the play takes place in summer, the characters enjoyed their journey to Russia as they were captivated by the story. Even though it is approaching summer where I live as well, I decided to embark on my own journey through Leo Tolstoy's classic nineteenth century classic novel.
Although titled Anna Karenina after one of the novel's principle characters, this long classic is considered Tolstoy's first 'real' novel and his take on a modernizing country and on people's lives within it. The novel begins as Anna Karenina arrives in Moscow from Petersburg to help her brother and sister-in-law settle a domestic dispute. Members of Russia's privileged class, Darya "Dolly" Alexandrovna discovers that her husband Stepan Arkadyich "Stiva" Oblonsky has engaged in an affair with one of their maids. Affairs being a long unspoken of part of upper class life, Dolly desires to leave her husband along with their five children.
Anna pleads with Dolly to reconcile, and the couple live a long, if not tenuous, marriage, overlooking each other's glaring faults. While settling her brother's marriage, Anna is reminded of her own unhappy marriage, setting the stage for a drama that lasts the duration of the novel. Tolstoy sets the novel in eight parts and short chapters with three main story lines, allowing for his readers to move quickly through the plot.
In addition to Stiva and Dolly, Tolstoy introduces in part one Dolly's sister Kitty Shcherbatsky, a young woman of marriageable age who is forced to choose between Count Vronsky and Konstantin Dmitrich Levin. At a ball in Kitty's honor, Vronsky is smitten with Anna, temporarily breaking Kitty's heart. Even though Levin loves Kitty with his whole heart, Kitty refuses his offer in favor of Vronsky, and falls into a deep depression.
Levin, seeing the one love of his life reject him, vows to never marry. Anna becomes a fallen woman and rejects her husband in favor of Vronsky, fathering his child, leaving behind the son she loves. Even those closest to her, including family members, are appalled. A G-D fearing woman in a religious society is supposed to view marriage as sacred.
Yet, Anna does not value her loved ones' advice and chooses to live with Vronsky. Despite a comfortable, upper class life, Anna is in constant internal turmoil. Spurned by a society that clings to its institutions as marriage and the church, Anna chooses love yet isolation from all but Vronsky and their daughter. Her ex-husband is viewed as a strict adherent to the law, cold, and unsympathetic, and will not grant a divorce. Even though Anna is clearly in the wrong, Tolstoy has his readers sympathizing with her situation, rooting for a positive outcome.
He brings to light the plight of lack of women's rights, especially in regard to divorce, and has one hoping that Russia changes her ways as she modernizes. If Anna's situation sheds light on the worst of Russian society and Dolly's reveals its stagnation, then Kitty, who later marries Levin, shows how the country begins to modernize. Kostya and Kitty marry for love, rather than gains in society.
Believed by many to be Tolstoy's alter ego, Levin is an estate farmer who is well aware of the rights of his tenant farmers called muzhiks. Along with his brother Sergei Ivanovich, Levin works toward agrarian reform.
Anna Karenina () - IMDb
Both men, Sergei Ivanovich especially, is swept up in the communist ideals that are beginning to form, in rejection of the tsarist governing of the country. Tolstoy diverges pages at a time to farming reforms and one can see in these pages his own beliefs for the future of Russia in the late 19th century. Having Levin introduce farming mechanisms from the west and Vronsky participate in a Slavic war, Tolstoy presents a Russia that is no longer completely isolated.
He reveals how communism begins to shape up as farmers are no longer happy as tenants and many privileged classes adhere to newer values. Meanwhile, through Dolly, Anna, and Kitty, Tolstoy also presents how a woman's role in this society changes, including schooling and her place in a marriage. As the twentieth century nears, Russian life is no longer set in antiquated ways. Had I not read a drama set in the tropics, I most likely would not have journeyed to 19th century Russia.
I enjoyed learning about Leo Tolstoy's views on life there and how he saw late 19th century Russia as a changing society. I found the plight his title character depressing while reading about Levin and Kitty to be uplifting as Russia moves toward the future. Tolstoy's words are accessible in spite of the novel's length, a testament to the stellar translation done by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
A true classic, I enjoyed my time with the characters in Anna Karenina, and rate Tolstoy's premier novel 5 shining stars. View all 28 comments. Alright, I'm going to do my best not to put any spoilers out here, but it will be kind of tough with this book. I should probably start by saying that this book was possibly the best thing I have ever read. It was my first Tolstoy to read, and the defining thing that separated what he wrote from anything else that I've read is his characters. His characters are unbelievably complex.
The edition of this book that I read was over pages, so he has some time to do it. His characters aren't static Alright, I'm going to do my best not to put any spoilers out here, but it will be kind of tough with this book. His characters aren't static, but neither are they in some kind of transition from A to B throughout the book.
They are each inconsistent in strikingly real ways. They think things and then change their minds. They believe something and then lose faith in it. Their opinions of each other are always swirling. They attempt to act in ways that align with something they want, but they must revert back to who they are. But who a character is is a function of many things, some innate and some external and some whimsical and moody. So all the characters seem too complex to be characters in a book.
It's as if no one could write a character that could be so contradictory and incoherent and still make them believable, so no one would try to write a character like Anna Karenina. But people are that complex, and they are incoherent and that's what makes Tolstoy's characters so real. Their understandings of each other and themselves are as incoherent as mine of those around me and myself. One of the ways that Tolstoy achieves this is through incredible detail to non-verbal communication.
He is always describing the characters movements, expressions, or postures in such a way that you subtly learn their thoughts. He does an amazing job in the internal monologues the characters experience. You frequently hear a character reason with himself and reveal his thoughts or who he is to you in some way, and all the while you feel like you already knew that they felt that or were that. Even as the characters are inconsistent. There are times when he can describe actions that have major implications on the plot with blunt and simple words and it still felt rich because the characters are so full.
It also speaks interestingly on social classes or classism. There is just so much to wrestle with here. And you go through a myriad set of emotions and impressions of the characters as you read. At times you can love or hate or adore a character. You can be ashamed of or ashamed for or reviled by or anxious with or surprised by a character. And you feel this way about each of them at points.
But it isn't at all a roller coaster ride of emotion. It's fluid and natural and makes sense. One of the many points that the book seemed to reach to me was the strength and power of love. Tolstoy displays it in all its power and all its inability. In the end love is not sufficient enough to sustain. He writes tremendous triumphs for it, and then he writes the months after when the reality of human failings set in.
But love is good, and there is hope. Life can be better with love in it. Should I have kids one day I think I'll make reading this book a precondition for them to start dating that and turning I was also surprised by a section towards the end of the book where Tolstoy through Levin, my favorite character and the one that I identified with the most, makes a case for Christianity that was so simple but at the same time really impacted me.
I guess I'll leave that alone here. Basically, I don't have high enough praise for this book. I hope everyone reads it. It is very long, and I found the third quarter or so slow. But I could definitely read it again. Not soon but it could become a must read every 15 years or so for me. Between he nature of the content and the quality of the words, I would say that this is the greatest masterpiece in words that I've ever found.
View all 10 comments. Tolstoy clashed with editor Mikhail Katkov over political issues that arose in the final installment Tolstoy's negative views of Russian volunteers going to fight in Serbia ; therefore, the novel's first complete appearance was in book form in Characters: Princess Ekat View 2 comments. This is a book that I was actually dreading reading for quite some time. It was on a list of books that I'd been working my way through and, after seeing the size of it and the fact that 'War And Peace' was voted 1 book to avoid reading, I was reluctant to ever get started. But am I glad that I did.
This is a surprisingly fast-moving, interesting and easy to read novel. The last of which I'd of never believed could be true before reading it, but you find yourself instantly engrossed in this kind This is a book that I was actually dreading reading for quite some time. The last of which I'd of never believed could be true before reading it, but you find yourself instantly engrossed in this kind of Russian soap opera, filled with weird and intriguing characters.
Is “Anna Karenina” a Love Story?
The most notable theme is the way society overlooked mens' affairs but frowned on womens', this immediately created a bond between myself and Anna, who is an extremely likeable character. I thought it had an amazing balance of important meaning and light-heartedness. Let's just say, it's given me some courage to maybe one day try out the dreaded 'War And Peace'.
View all 24 comments. Sep 17, Kevin Ansbro rated it it was amazing Shelves: classic-literature , gentle-humour , literature-for-grown-ups , morality , social-awkwardness , favourites , human-emotions. You see, I was force-fed Tolstoy at college his writing, not his flesh, silly! Mine wasn't a college for cannibals! So, how amazed was I that Anna K has s "Leo Tolstoy would meet hatred expressed in violence by love expressed in self-suffering. He is slyly hilarious. How did I not know this? Please note that I haven't read this novel in Russian Cyrillic. I acknowledge that my perception owes a great deal to the amazing interpretive work of the translators, but let's imagine that we in the West have enjoyed his work as the great man intended.
The title is something of a misnomer and doesn't do justice to an endearing love story that also captures the disparity between city and country life in 19th-century Russia. For a start, Anna K isn't the star of the show. That billing falls to our anti-hero, Konstantin Dmitrich Levin, a socially awkward, highly-intelligent loner who considers himself to be an ugly fellow with no redeemable qualities. Despite being weighed down by all this existential angst, he worships Kitty Shcherbatskaya, an attractive young princess whom he believes to be out of his league.
Kitty is described as being "as easy to find in a crowd as a rose among nettles. Levin's love rival, raffishly handsome Count Vronsky, couldn't be more dissimilar. He is socially adept and careful not to offend, whereas Levin could probably start an argument with a goldfish. What a fabulous read this is. Tolstoy's levity and perspicacity shines from every page and the badinage between the main characters is exquisitely observed. He does though have an idiosyncratic way of writing: adjectives are thickly laid on with a trowel and he loves to use repetition to emphasise a point.
Anna herself is fascinating, and to affirm just how fascinating she is, Tolstoy employs the word fascinating seven times in one paragraph! I've even started doing it myself! How fascinating! When not beating you about the head with repetition, the Russian master can do majestic descriptive imagery as good as anyone. One simple scene, where Kitty collapses into a low chair, her ball gown rising about her like a cloud, was just perfectly captured.
This is a wonderful story of fated love and aristocratic hypocrisy. Tolstoy uses Levin as his political mouthpiece to rail against the ills of late 19th-century Russia, and the author's philosophy of non-violent pacifism also had a direct influence on none other than Mahatma Gandi. Anna Karenina is often cited as 'one of the best books ever written'. So who am I to disagree? So, I have this ongoing etiquette problem. Though sometimes I think it is a matter of respect. Or maybe social awkwardness. Post got that deeply into the protocol of neurotic bibliophiles. Anyway, the question is.. That is, are discussants more likely So, I have this ongoing etiquette problem.
That is, are discussants more likely to assume a first name basis when conversing about women authors rather than male authors? If so, does this mean a sign of disrespect? What about when this happens as a discussion among women? Is this more or less problematic? It also, obviously, happens sometimes with two authors by the same name, or with an author that someone happens to know personally. But my question doesn't just have to do with this situation.
I'm more interested as to why readers feel the impulse to do this to start with. But its hard to pinpoint when that happens. Usually, for me, I only see it when I write my review. Usually I self-consciously delete it later once I realize it. But it is always revealing of how much the novel got to me. Virginia Woolf is the ultimate example of this for me. My experience with Mrs. I had the same experience with Austen and the Brontes and Graham Greene and a few others. I've read this before, but that time my impression of Tolstoy as an intimidating, distant Big Russian Author intact.
This read was different. I believe that the translation work of Paevar and Volokhonsky deserves credit for that. My first read was with the Garnette translation. And unfortunately, it turns out that graceful late-Victorian prose reads rather… well.. Intelligently done, but often intimidating and cold.
At least, it is not the Tolstoy that Paevar and Volokhonsky showed me. I remember those Leo moments. There are many things I loved about this novel. As I understand it, writing this novel was a great struggle for Tolstoy. Originally, he meant this to be a straightforward morality tale. Anna was meant to be an ugly, vulgar old adulteress who represented Evil Womankind, and Karenin a model of sainted Christianity. But the longer the writing went on, the more this black and white purpose acquired shades of grey.
Anna became beautiful, then sympathetic at the beginning, and then in the middle, and then all the way into the end. Vronsky no longer twisted his mustache, but became a man with a code who wanted very much to be allowed to keep that code and live a life. He found his way from rigid morality to what makes a tragedy a tragedy. There are moments where he shows that he could have gone full on Oscar Wilde if he wanted to, but he takes it back. Judge not, lest ye be judged. Some of them I sympathized with from the beginning-Anna, Dolly, Levin- and some snuck up on me-Karenin, Kitty- and some-Vronsky, Oblonsky- took me awhile, but I got there.
The book is set up as a dance where these seven people come together, go through the motions and then change partners again. How they come together, why, and what the two partners want from each other in that moment reveals everything about these two characters. As our two anchors who represent the two choices that you can come to resolve the existential crises of life, Levin and Anna get to meet everyone and everyone gets to reflect them back to themselves.
Other characters experience them and make their own choices by evaluating their experience. Their resolutions represent the spectrum of other choices that you can make in between Ecstasy starts as Anna, moves to Levin and Death which moves from Levin to Anna. What happens in the scene is beautiful and makes a lot of sense. Like that circle you always see done with fascism and communism-in-reality where despite whatever they may say, they are not the opposites that they claim.
Someone is always going to be left on the outside, or being the third wheel to one of the pairs. Everyone has a turn with this. Anna starts it, then Levin continues it, then Kitty, then Karenin and full circle until we come back to Anna standing by herself once again. Through the odd man out, we get an exploration of how loneliness, rejection, and mistaken choices to reject others affect these characters. The two choices seem to be either that it will transform them, or that it will gradually harden the worst parts about them until they become an unbreakable diamond.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have the space and time to do that. Levin gets to do it eventually. Anna is the diamond. Karenin shatters to pieces and then rebuilds himself into one again. Surprisingly, in the end, Karenin was the one who broke my heart. He shows these peoples' attempts at understanding each other and failing again and again.
Characters frequently make assumptions that other people are mind-readers or that they are, and some even go so far as to tell them so. The ones who can communicate with each other are the ones who drive the novel- Anna, Levin, Kitty. Our author stand-in, Levin, is the most socially anxious being. He frequently doubts every word that comes out of his mouth, blushes and embarrasses himself with his boyish pride, and puts his foot in his mouth on about a million occasions.
But all these little moments add up to a more thorough condemnation of social conventions than view spoiler [anybody throwing themselves under a train at the end could possibly have managed hide spoiler ]. Only Connect in eight hundred pages at full volume. Only a few people manage it, and usually not for long.
He shows us why succeeding is a gift, not something that we can take for granted. And as for the writing… Tolstoy gets away with so much that other authors can't. He tells rather than shows for at least half the novel, and that is a conservative estimate. He repeats himself constantly. He chooses isolated moments and lets them go on for fifty pages longer than anyone on earth needs.
A two day hunting trip takes twice that. But Woolf can: "For it has come about, by the wise economy of our nature, that our modern spirit can almost dispense with language; the commonest expressions do, since no expressions do; the most ordinary conversation is often the most poetic For which reasons we leave a great blank here, which must be taken to indicate that the space is filled to repletion.
That is, what he does to Anna because he could not himself decide what he wanted her to be, and really what he wanted himself to be. Even his generosity failed him here. He went gloriously, full-tilt into a wall wrong, but it was wrong. It seemed like his original stern morality got the best of him.
At first, I wanted to think that it was just a plot mechanics decision in the sense that Anna was the big outlier in the story and social structure, and the way he had written the people around her there was no way for anyone to move forward unless she herself changed. But in the end, I think that I'm wrong and it was just him feeling like he had to condemn her for her sins in the end. He couldn't let it be about what he said it was the whole novel because that was too dangerous.
About how to rationally believe in God as a man of science. It makes sense that they would. I know why, actually. But I'm still not a fan. But still. I can mostly forgive Tolstoy for what he did to Anna and Levin and their complex struggles because of one thing: his joy. Even when his generosity of spirit uncharacteristically fails him with Anna, or when powerful intellect goes off the rails toward crazytown with Levin and his peasant-worship, he has this great ability to celebrate things great and small.
This is most evident in the Levin sections where we get long odes to the harvest and to his love for Kitty. And really, despite the all that earnest, existential angst and all the terror of death, the ultimate conclusion that I think Tolstoy wants me to walk away with from that last Levin chapter is Life.
Even with the problems with it I mentioned above, its such a relief to see Levin finally just let himself rest that its difficult to hate it completely. Kitty gets to be wrapped up on it. Oblonsky walks around with an apparently unshakeable foundation of it. Tolstoy complements this with a sly sense of humor that sneaks into the prose in between the other seven hundred and fifty pages of Seriously Considering the World. He pokes fun at men showing off their manliness to each other. He has some fun with mysticism, laughs about the ridiculousness of politics. He makes me laugh with the extremes to which he carries his insistence that we think about the feelings of everybody.
Including the dog. You monsters! Awhile ago, I saw Jon Stewart give a speech in tribute to Springsteen. This book is a book of statements, but it feels like a book of questions. Do you know any better? Often, with Tolstoy, I think that a lot of us feel like we do. With rare exceptions, he deals with everything on earth as if it is the most serious thing alive.
We can even feel that we know better about communism, idealization of manual labor or even just his ideas about cooperative farming. He reminds me of David Foster Wallace, in that respect. That Consider the Lobster essay, with all that serious questioning and pain, thrown out to the readers of Gourmet. Both these guys are really asking. This was a surprisingly vulnerable book in that way. For every opinion Tolstoy pronounced, he retracted two and asked four questions.
That is the sort of mind I want to be around. A little bit. But his amazing writing ability, his sharp insight, and his ability to reason through as far as he could go are powerful enough that I will always let it go. View all 75 comments. According to this myth, the gods get involved in our existence by using a red cord. In Japanese culture, such cord is tied around the little finger; in China, around the ankle.
Be it as it may, that string binds one person to the other; people who were always destined to meet, regar [Turn the volume up; open me in new tab] There is a well-known belief that, brimming with the romanticism of bygone days to which reason acquiesces in silence, attempts to explain the elusive nature of human relations. Be it as it may, that string binds one person to the other; people who were always destined to meet, regardless the place, time or circumstances.
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The character of this connection varies, since it is not restricted to lovers: the two people whose paths are meant to converge at some point, will make history in some way or another, in any given situation. It is said that the red string might get tangled or stretched but it can never break. If it breaks, then only one person was truly holding that red string. One person and a sensation.
Amid all the plausible and unrealistic explanations that might be conceived in order to unravel the true nature of all the encounters we experienced and the ones still awaiting for us, this myth is one of the most poetic ways to try to elucidate their puzzling essence while conveying a lack of randomness in human relations this certainly goes beyond any rationalization that I could manage to elaborate and that would ultimately be rather pointless. For you could find the person to whom you were always meant to share your life with when you least expect it, no matter your marital status, undoubtedly.
And a story that could epitomize this legend took place in 19th-century Russia. Anna Karenina is not merely a story about an ill-fated relationship that begins with one of the most famous lines in classic literature. Admittedly it was prejudice what prevented me from picking up this book for years. I thought it was going to be another mawkish love story that, alongside its many comings and goings, dealt with—and probably romanticized—the theme of adultery.
As much as I spent my entire life questioning the dogmas that my surroundings may have tried to impose upon my own fragile set of principles in youth that slowly became more grounded through the years , a certain vestige may have survived, but I'm not trying to compete with Tolstoy over who has the most moralizing tone, for I judge no one but myself. To sum up, in literature, the idea of infidelity bores me, so if I have to put up with over nine hundred pages of passion, deception, lustful gazes, thrilling rendezvous and any other similar situation I'd better stick to short stories.
So imagine my surprise when I found this substantially complex universe populated by people coming from different backgrounds, following different principles, imbued with many noble qualities and ordinary flaws; all captives of something, be it a required sense of dignity, an observance of decorum, stifling social conventions, the game of honesty and feigned emotions or a religion that ruled over most aspects of their lives. A universe defined by the sacrifice of one's wishes, the rejection of one's true feelings in order to do what is proper.
A self-denial attitude to demonstrate compliance with the social rules of the world. Actions intended to safeguard a reputation that might get tarnished by truth or falsehood. I must confess that my lips sarcastically twitched every time I read Tolstoy's effusive meditations on the magnanimous nature of religion and its elevated consequences upon people's behaviour. Oh, 'I want to turn the other cheek, I want to give my shirt when my caftan is taken, and I only pray to God that He not take from me the happiness of forgiveness!
At times, I was unable to shake off the impression of a preachy tone that perhaps it was not so, but that my skeptical disposition perceived it anyway. Thankfully, he didn't gush about that too often. Thus, I gave in. I surrendered to the magnificence of his words, unconditionally. Every character has been meticulously developed. They were given strong opinions and even the ones I found slightly weak at first, astonished me later when I read their poignant musings, especially when it came to women and their role in both family and society.
The idea of preferably attractive women whose main job is to give birth, bear with husbands of libertine inclinations and accept their inability to form any opinion worth hearing because nature un fortunately has not endowed them with men's brilliance, has clearly survived the 19th century and still resides in some minds that surely scream progress and common sense.
A third-person omniscient narrator takes the lead and introduces us to the world of Anna Arkadyevna Karenina, Karenin's wife, who falls in love with Count Alexei Vronsky, a single, wealthy man. Needless to say, Levin has become a favorite of mine. Through his actions and way of thinking, some fascinating factors came into play. His riveting conversations—that he maintained while trying to overcome a heart-rending awkwardness, especially when he found himself cornered due to his inability to disentangle his innovative thoughts when discussing philosophical and political issues—and internal monologues are for me the most memorable parts of the entire novel.
Anna's story is a faithful account of the pressure caused by social norms and the influence of the Russian Church which combined with other elements eventually brought about a relentless state of blinding jealousy, another theme deeply explored by Tolstoy, along with hypocrisy and the need to resort to appearances to be at least theoretically happy. On the contrary, Levin embodies the simplicity of the countryside life, far away from any display of unnecessary opulence; also the bewilderment regarding bureaucracy and the efforts to grasp the concept behind politics, the difficulties present in his relationship with peasants and, in a global scale, the whole agrarian system in contrast to the perception of progress seen in the city.
In addition, we witness his struggles concerning faith, an aspect that immediately drew me in, as I also feel frustrated every time I ponder the essence of our existence, our identity, the acknowledgement of death—mortality salience or a persistent state of fear and anxiety—and how everything is supposed to fit an intricate system based on faith; swinging back and forth between reality and a need to believe in something.
This absolutely compelling book showed me another side of Tolstoy. He opened the doors to a world I may recognize since it is not my first Russian novel but that I have barely seen through his eyes for I stubbornly shunned his look for so long. His gifted mind, the uniqueness of his style, the now unmistakable sound of his words thanks to this wonderful translation, the beauty of his language and the sincere nature of his thoughts that were conveyed so eloquently, left an indelible impression on me.
Through the characters he has skillfully brought to life, Tolstoy not only shared his views on society and politics, but also his unswerving commitment to do everything in his power to attain a meaningful life. That strenuous search we are always returning to; one that cannot be limited to any time or place since it is intrinsic to human condition. That purpose to which existence might aspire. Something to stimulate our slow, measured pace, often against the flow.
Many things lead to that much desired meaning. Many ways that by themselves are insufficient as life, in constant motion as it is, is a complement of them all. Countless roads branching out while we contemplate, with fearful eyes and wavering avidity for they have ramified in so many directions, the one we should choose. There is one clear path that this novel illustrates with unflinchingly compassionate brushstrokes of reality. It is understandable that, seeing how love might deteriorate over time, how a kiss becomes an endless reproach and a word, a way to punish and inflict pain on others in the midst of an atmosphere of self-destruction, might make you realize of how that possibility, that unremitting sense of an ending has been injecting fear into your being through the years and all of the efforts you have made to keep a reassuring distance from everything; echoing infantile attempts at self-preservation.
A child stepping into society for the first time, again; learning how to speak and behave accordingly, again. Anna, her ghosts, they all demanded, energetically; others, while yearning for different scenarios, return to the shadows, quietly. Giving too much; receiving halves, too late. Doors are always on the verge of closing; serenely becoming accustomed to nothingness. Even so, amid a myriad of red threads that belong to the vastness of a timeless tapestry, love still constitutes one of the paths that may render a fulfilling life possible.
A bedroom adorned with poppy tears is now shrouded in silence. A red string dwelt there once. It connected two people destined to meet; people who lived a thousand lives in the eternity of a second. According to the myth, such string stretched, tangled and stretched again. Until she seized hold of it, hoping for a season of forgiveness. View all 91 comments. Dec 20, K. Shelves: core , classics , favorites. Summer of My very manly brother, who rarely read classics, holding and reading a very thick book entitled Anna Karenina. Why is he interested on that?
On the wall by his bed, was a big close up photograph of Sophie Marceau. Around that time, most teenage males in the Philippines were fans of this ever-smiling young lady and her poster was in their bedrooms. Our house was not an exemption. This was before my brother joined the US Navy. A decad Summer of A decade after, Marceau played the title role in the most recent movie adaptation of this book. As you can see, many of those are men. Did The Top Ten list make me finally pick this up? Considering its length and the one full week of reading aside from working , was reading this a waste of time that I could have spent reading shorter easier-to-read books?
Definitely, not. This unputdownable book is worth every minute that I spent on it. However, this book is not for those readers who have no patience in reading thick books. Although for me the vast scope of 19th century Russia is interesting not only for the lifestyle of the people in the same reason why Austen fans love her books but also for its historical significance.
On its superficial level, the story is about Anna Karenina , a young wife of a Russian government official, Count Alexie who is 15 years her senior.
Probably due to their age difference and the fact that theirs was an arranged marriage, they are not happy. This despite the fact that they already have a son. Enter a young handsome military man, Vronsky, who fell in love at first sight with Anna when his mother and she came to St. Petersburg together in a train.
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Vronsky courts her and the two become lovers and Anna gets pregnant. However, Count Alexie does not want to divorce Anna and asks her to still live with him as a punishment. At that time in Russia, the offending party has the option to grant the divorce and this party takes the possession of the child. Anna cannot part with her son even if she becomes pregnant and later has child with Vronsky.
The Imperial Russia at that time has this extreme double standard on morality and the society condemns Anna for sleeping with another man. This reminded me of Diana, Princess of Wales who, when she died in , generated an unbelievable outpouring of public sympathy despite having lovers while still married to Prince Charles. Konstantin Dimitrich Levin is a socially awkward but generous-hearted landowner who was first ditched by the woman she loves, Kitty but later wins her heart back. He witnesses the death of his brother, Nicolai Levin and that scene, for me, is the most poignant of all.
James Meek: rereading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Well, except the train incident where Anna killed herself. The denouement chapter of the book where Levin realizes that Christianity is the same as the other beliefs in terms of salvation is like having the author Tolstoy sharing his own thoughts about religion and faith. It is the most stirring being philosophical part of the book.
This part is said to have inspired the next generation of writers Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, and James Joyce who are all my favorites in the use of this literary technique. For me, the main theme of the book is: we cannot be happy at the expense of other people. Happiness comes from within. In the story, Anna and Vronsky thought that they would be happy if they could live together.