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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
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Anna Karenina (1877)

by Leo Tolstoy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
23,71140145 (4.16)5 / 1338
  1. 121
    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (roby72)
  2. 143
    Crime and Punishment by Fedor Mikhaïlovitch Dostoïevski (Booksloth, luzestrella)
    luzestrella: when I got to the middle of the book I was shocked. It seens like the climax of all the main conclicts were already there. Why didn't the author cut the novel right there with that happy ending? Unnusual for a ficcion novel indeep. But for that particular reason, for me it has it's charm. The other half of the novel goes on describing what happened with the characters after they got what they wanted.… (more)
  3. 70
    The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (roby72)
  4. 60
    The Princesse de Cleves by Madame de La Fayette (andejons)
    andejons: Similar premises: married, upper class women fall in love with men of less than perfect moral standing. The outcomes are very different though.
  5. 61
    Emma by Jane Austen (roby72)
  6. 51
    The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (pingdjip)
    pingdjip: Like Tolstoy, Faber goes under his characters' skin, ponders their social manoeuvering, and follows the pitfalls and triumphs of their lives. Difference: Faber is funny and sometimes provocative and teasing in a "postmodern" way.
  7. 31
    What Happened to Anna K.: A Novel by Irina Reyn (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: Irina Reyn updates the classic _Anna Karenina_ to the Russian diaspora of New York City.
  8. 20
    Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (Henrik_Madsen)
    Henrik_Madsen: To romaner af murstensstørrelse der analyserer og beskriver overklassefamiliernes komplicerede liv.
  9. 42
    The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (alalba)
  10. 10
    La Regenta by Leopoldo Alas (alalba)
  11. 10
    Eirelan by Liam O'Shiel (allthesepieces)
    allthesepieces: Both books build complex stories that delve into the nature of loyalty in relationships.
  12. 11
    The Maias by Eca de Queiros (Anonymous user)
  13. 13
    Eine Frage der Schuld: Roman - Mit der «Kurzen Autobiographie der Gräfin S. A. Tolstaja»: Anläßlich der "Kreutzersonate" von Lew Tolstoi. Mit einem Nachwort von Ursula Keller by Sofja Tolstaja (Monika_L)
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Showing 1-5 of 370 (next | show all)
I finally finished this book after a freaking month and a half. I can't believe it, it's the longest I've ever spent reading a leisure book. But! I am glad I read it.

This book reads a little like a 18th century soap, filled with drama about affairs and love interests and stealing people's boyfriends and whatnot. It's not my most favorite type of genre (I don't like stupid love books where people have nothing better to do than just whine about their love lives and create drama for themselves), but Tolstoy is a master of characters.

I swear, no matter how much I didn't like most of the characters, I still kept reading because Tolstoy managed to make them so very real and different. A lot of authors have a problem where they aren't really able to make characters too much different from each other, except for the obvious story tropes they fall into. But here, Tolstoy manages to show us how humans react emotionally to different situations - all of them so very different in mindset and background and situation, but all showing this nature of humanity in interaction.
Okay, I'll stop with the flowery words. I sound like an English paper, really. (But I can see why an English class would want to read this!)

But anyways, he does this by skipping through each person's thoughts when writing a scene. Sometimes it's a little disconcerting because we start one paragraph in Levin's head, and then end up in Anna's, or something like that. But I really think it works, I really love this style of writing. We see how perceptions are so different depending on the perspective. What one character does and says for a specific motivation can be interpreted so differently by the others listening. (Example, Anna thinking that Kitty hates her for who she is, when Kitty just feels pity.)
My absolute favorite parts are when we tag along with the characters to different parties where three or more of these character we have slowly gotten to know interact. These moments are where you see the hidden motivations behind such simple words and sentences, and why characters react as they do. We have the third person omniscient view and we know everything - and it is absolutely delightful to see Tolstoy capitalize on this.

But Tolstoy ends up adding so much more to this book than just the romance. I might even dare to say that this book isn't a romance, despite that it would seem to revolve around Anna Karenina's affair. But that's not the case. Tolstoy adds major issues to this work, ranging from politics, to spiritual enlightenment, to dealing with death and in-laws, the education of women and civilians, of course divorce, and so much more. I think these additions are what elevates this book from just a mere romance to a classic.
But... at the same time, sometimes he would go on and on about a certain topic just to get it across, and I always struggled to get through those times. So good and bad.

One interesting thing is that Tolstoy manages to present both sides of the argument for whatever issues he's talking about - so the reader doesn't actually know exactly what the author believes. Some books are so heavy handed in their support for a touchy issue, but Tolstoy manages to weave it into his conversations naturally. It's quite lovely to read.

Let me also just say that I hated the characters. They were so stupid, so silly. But... then, you could empathize, almost feel for them. When Levin is pulls his heart out and offers it to Kitty, when Dolly struggles to stay afloat after making the hard decisions of staying for her children, or when Kitty goes on a soul-searching journey to find herself after a love gone bad. Or maybe even feel deep sorrow and pity for Anna and Vronsky's love gone so bitter. All of them made such stupid decisions, such stupid choices. But they were real, with their thoughtless passions and raging emotions. And for that, I love them.

The ending was a disaster, in my opinion. I don't mind that Anna died, there is really no other way that I could see the book ending. But to make the last part, the quasi-epilogue, all about Levin and his spiritual change... that is a cop out, in my opinion. It makes the book about him. About him and also about the author's own spiritual change, trying to show the reader what he is about. I am not a fan of that.

I could write a lot more, to be honest. About the characters, about nit-picky details, about my own thoughts of the issues he brought up, but it might take a book report that I'm really not willing to write.

I'm just glad I read this on my own time instead of in a high school class - I'm sure I would've just skimmed it and disregarded most of the book in those years.

Two and a half stars because it was okay. I didn't "like" the book in commonly used term where you liked the story and the characters and the setting and whatnot. Instead, I found myself appreciating the author for his writing ability and prowess with words. Although long, I do think this book is worth reading (at least some of it) just to get a grasp of how he manages to weave different characters into a conversation without losing anyone's personality.
Recommended only for those with time and those who want to read a classic. I don't think there are many books that are terribly similar that I've read.
For me, it was worth reading. Once. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
I finally finished this book after a freaking month and a half. I can't believe it, it's the longest I've ever spent reading a leisure book. But! I am glad I read it.

This book reads a little like a 18th century soap, filled with drama about affairs and love interests and stealing people's boyfriends and whatnot. It's not my most favorite type of genre (I don't like stupid love books where people have nothing better to do than just whine about their love lives and create drama for themselves), but Tolstoy is a master of characters.

I swear, no matter how much I didn't like most of the characters, I still kept reading because Tolstoy managed to make them so very real and different. A lot of authors have a problem where they aren't really able to make characters too much different from each other, except for the obvious story tropes they fall into. But here, Tolstoy manages to show us how humans react emotionally to different situations - all of them so very different in mindset and background and situation, but all showing this nature of humanity in interaction.
Okay, I'll stop with the flowery words. I sound like an English paper, really. (But I can see why an English class would want to read this!)

But anyways, he does this by skipping through each person's thoughts when writing a scene. Sometimes it's a little disconcerting because we start one paragraph in Levin's head, and then end up in Anna's, or something like that. But I really think it works, I really love this style of writing. We see how perceptions are so different depending on the perspective. What one character does and says for a specific motivation can be interpreted so differently by the others listening. (Example, Anna thinking that Kitty hates her for who she is, when Kitty just feels pity.)
My absolute favorite parts are when we tag along with the characters to different parties where three or more of these character we have slowly gotten to know interact. These moments are where you see the hidden motivations behind such simple words and sentences, and why characters react as they do. We have the third person omniscient view and we know everything - and it is absolutely delightful to see Tolstoy capitalize on this.

But Tolstoy ends up adding so much more to this book than just the romance. I might even dare to say that this book isn't a romance, despite that it would seem to revolve around Anna Karenina's affair. But that's not the case. Tolstoy adds major issues to this work, ranging from politics, to spiritual enlightenment, to dealing with death and in-laws, the education of women and civilians, of course divorce, and so much more. I think these additions are what elevates this book from just a mere romance to a classic.
But... at the same time, sometimes he would go on and on about a certain topic just to get it across, and I always struggled to get through those times. So good and bad.

One interesting thing is that Tolstoy manages to present both sides of the argument for whatever issues he's talking about - so the reader doesn't actually know exactly what the author believes. Some books are so heavy handed in their support for a touchy issue, but Tolstoy manages to weave it into his conversations naturally. It's quite lovely to read.

Let me also just say that I hated the characters. They were so stupid, so silly. But... then, you could empathize, almost feel for them. When Levin is pulls his heart out and offers it to Kitty, when Dolly struggles to stay afloat after making the hard decisions of staying for her children, or when Kitty goes on a soul-searching journey to find herself after a love gone bad. Or maybe even feel deep sorrow and pity for Anna and Vronsky's love gone so bitter. All of them made such stupid decisions, such stupid choices. But they were real, with their thoughtless passions and raging emotions. And for that, I love them.

The ending was a disaster, in my opinion. I don't mind that Anna died, there is really no other way that I could see the book ending. But to make the last part, the quasi-epilogue, all about Levin and his spiritual change... that is a cop out, in my opinion. It makes the book about him. About him and also about the author's own spiritual change, trying to show the reader what he is about. I am not a fan of that.

I could write a lot more, to be honest. About the characters, about nit-picky details, about my own thoughts of the issues he brought up, but it might take a book report that I'm really not willing to write.

I'm just glad I read this on my own time instead of in a high school class - I'm sure I would've just skimmed it and disregarded most of the book in those years.

Two and a half stars because it was okay. I didn't "like" the book in commonly used term where you liked the story and the characters and the setting and whatnot. Instead, I found myself appreciating the author for his writing ability and prowess with words. Although long, I do think this book is worth reading (at least some of it) just to get a grasp of how he manages to weave different characters into a conversation without losing anyone's personality.
Recommended only for those with time and those who want to read a classic. I don't think there are many books that are terribly similar that I've read.
For me, it was worth reading. Once. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
The rating is *read it a long time ago and as far as I remember...*.
I haven't tried again though. ( )
  Irena. | Aug 26, 2014 |
Anna Karenina is really the story of three different marriages. Anna and Alexey Karenina and her lover Count Vronsky. Anna's brother Stepan Arkadyevtch and his wife Dolly. Lastly, there is Dolly's little sister Kitty and her eventual marriage to Kostantin Levin.

The novel begins with Dolly discovering that her husband Stepan has been unfaithful to her and Anna convincing her sister in law to not leave the marriage. Anna represents all that is beautiful and best in mid nineteenth century Russian high society. But Anna soon after falls in love with the dashing Vronsky and abandon's her husband and young son to be with him. Dolly resigns herself to a marriage without trust or respect, comporting to the social norms of the day. Meanwhile Anna falls deeper into despair as she is cut off from society and her son, living as a fallen woman with Vronsky.

At the other end of the spectrum is the youthful and naïve Kitty. Like Anna, Kitty eventually chooses to marry an older man. Like Alexey, Levin is far more dour and introspective then his young bride. The parallels between the Karenina's and the Levin's are many. It is interesting to speculate how Kitty and Levin's relationship will change over the course of ten years. Would they become like Anna and Alexey, unable to bear each others differences? Or like Dolly and Stepan, one spouse cheating and slowly draining all mutual love and respect from the marriage? Or are Kitty and Levin actually destined to be the one couple happy with one another over the long run? ( )
  queencersei | Aug 20, 2014 |
Anna Karenina was truly amazing, despite the fact Tolstoy should have named the book after Konstantin Levin, whose character put a more positive spin on it. I saw in Anna far too many people I know...those whose lives are so sourt and so self-absorbed that suicide would be the only uncomfortable end. By the time she committed suicide, I was almost begging for her to finally do it and end everyone else's suffering. Politically and religiously, this novel was of epic proportions. I won't even go into it all here. I'll save it for the blog. ( )
  mreed61 | Aug 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 370 (next | show all)
Each time I reread Anna Karenina, picking my way past the attics and cellars and rusting machinery of Tolstoy's obsessions and prejudices, a new layer of his craft emerges, to the point where, for all my admiration of Joyce, Beckett and Kelman, I begin to question whether the novel form isn't too artisanal a medium for the surface experimentation of the modernist project ever to transcend the flexing of space and time that apparently conventional language can achieve in the hands of a master.
 

» Add other authors (93 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tolstoy, Leoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bayley, JohnPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bayley, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dole, Nathan HaskellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edmonds, RosemaryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farrell, James T.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gallero, VíctorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garnett, ConstanceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ginzburg , LeoneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gurin, JacobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gurin, Morris S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hašková, TatjanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horovitch, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huisman, WilsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kool, Halbo C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leclée, JacobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magarshack, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matulay, LaszloIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maude, AylmerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maude, AylmerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maude, LouiseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maude, Louise ShanksTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porter, DavinaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pyykkö, LeaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roseen, UllaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Troyat, HenriIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volohonsky, LarissaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Vengeance is mine; I will repay. ~ Deuteronomy 32:35
Dedication
First words
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. (C. Garnett, 1946) and (J. Carmichael, 1960)
Все счастливые семьи похожи друг на друга, каждая несчастливая семья несчастлива по-своему. Всё смешалось в доме Облонских.
All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
All happy families resemble one another, every unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion. (N. H. Dole, 1886)
All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. (Pevear, Volokhonsky, 2000)
Quotations
"Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be." [Anna, p744 (2000)]
"He has long ceased loving me. And where love stops, hatred begins." [Anna, p763 (2000)]
Every minute of Alexei Alexandrovich's life was occupied and scheduled. And in order to have time to do what he had to do each day, he held to the strictest punctuality. 'Without haste and without rest' was his motto. [p109 (2000)]
Every man, knowing to the smallest detail all the complexity of the conditions surrounding him, involuntarily assumes that the complexity of these conditions and the difficulty of comprehending them are only his personal, accidental peculiarity, and never thinks that others are surrounded by the same complexity as he is. [p302 (2000)]
Vronsky meanwhile, despite the full realization of what he had desired for so long, was not fully happy. He soon felt that the realization of his desire had given him only a grain of the mountain of happiness he had expected. It showed him the the eternal error people make in imagining that happiness is the realization of desires. [...] He soon felt arise in his soul a desire for desires, an anguish. [p465 (2000)]
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the work for the complete Anna Karenina. Please do not combine with any of the works representing the individual volumes (see combination rules regarding part/whole issues for details), or with abridged versions. Thank you.

The original Russian title was “Анна Каренина”.

Please keep the Norton Critical Edition books un-combined with the rest of them - it is significantly different with thorough explanatory annotations, essays by other authors, and reviews by other authors. Thank you.
This is the work of Leo Tolstoy, not Henri Troyat.
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Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143035002, Paperback)

Some people say Anna Karenina is the single greatest novel ever written, which makes about as much sense to me as trying to determine the world's greatest color. But there is no doubt that Anna Karenina, generally considered Tolstoy's best book, is definitely one ripping great read. Anna, miserable in her loveless marriage, does the barely thinkable and succumbs to her desires for the dashing Vronsky. I don't want to give away the ending, but I will say that 19th-century Russia doesn't take well to that sort of thing.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:46 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endure the hypocrisies of society. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel's seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness. While previous versions have softened the robust, and sometimes shocking, quality of Tolstoy's writing, Pevear and Volokhonsky have produced a translation true to his powerful voice. This award-winning team's authoritative edition also includes an illuminating introduction and explanatory notes. Beautiful, vigorous, and eminently readable, this Anna Karenina will be the definitive text for generations to come.… (more)

» see all 36 descriptions

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