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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
24,36341245 (4.16)5 / 1340
  1. 131
    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (roby72)
  2. 143
    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (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. 62
    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. 11
    A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth (uri-starkey)
  14. 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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English (379)  Italian (8)  Spanish (7)  Dutch (5)  French (4)  Swedish (2)  Catalan (2)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (412)
Showing 1-5 of 379 (next | show all)
I first read this in high school and at the time thought that it was one of the best books I had ever come across. I have since re-read it several times, always with renewed admiration. I was just noticed that I hadn't added it to my Goodreads list and had to correct the omission. ( )
  LizHD | Mar 25, 2015 |
(After caught cheating on his wife)"What had happened to him at that moment was what happens to people when they are unexpectedly caught in something very shameful. He had not managed to prepare his face for the position he found himself in with regard to his wife now that his guilt had been revealed. Instead of being offended, of denying, justifying, asking forgiveness, even remaining indifferent — any of which would have been better than what he did! — his face quite involuntarily (`reflexes of the brain', thought Stepan Arkadyich, who liked physiology) smiled all at once its habitual, kind and therefore stupid smile.

That stupid smile he could not forgive himself. Seeing that smile, Dolly had winced as if from physical pain, burst with her typical vehemence into a torrent of cruel words, and rushed from the room. Since then she had refused to see her husband.

`That stupid smile is to blame for it all,' thought Stepan Arkadyich."


Anna Karenina has been on my bookshelf for such a long time, but its size and reputation were a little intimidating. The last section of the first chapter quoted above is the part that won me over. I was not expecting the humorous parts and I knew at that point it would definitely not be a dull, lifeless read!

Tolstoy's characters really are the greatest. They are fully formed individuals who make mistakes, have regrets and conflicting thoughts and develop naturally (for better or worse). I really felt like I was in the character's heads. When Kitty feels heartbroken, I feel heartbroken. When Levin is in the midst of the best time of his life, I feel elated too. Stepan (Mr. "If I knew it would bother her, I would have been more discreet!" and Anna's brother) can be a completely ridiculous at times, but you can't help but laugh at his antics and perceptions. I am still cracking up at Stepan's love of sending drunk telegrams! Tolstoy even slips into the "minds" of inanimate objects and dogs and it seems completely natural! The novel really delves into the complexities of love and marriage.

I was a bit surprised that there was less of the actual Anna Karenina in "Anna Karenina" than I expected. I expected at least 80% AK, but it couldn't have been more than 50%. It goes back and forth between the Kitty/Levin storylines and the Anna/Vronsky storyline, with a little bit of Stepan and Darya mixed in. I actually preferred the Levin story, because Anna Karenina (the character) can be so insufferable at times. She had incredibly difficult and unfair societal rules to deal with, but she also made some of the most frustrating choices! I am wondering what my opinion of Anna and Vronsky would have been if I had read this book when I was younger.

I deducted the one star because there are sections that I found really boring and those sections kept me from completely loving the book. Farming & Russian politics; I'm looking at you Levin! I did find the "boring" sections less of an issue than I did in War & Peace. The digressions do get irritating, but Tolstoy uses such short chapters. If I can just power through those difficult chapters, I know that I will eventually get to an interesting part again. For the difficult sections, I will usually read chapter summaries online before I read the actual text. If I have some context, it is much easier to read.

Overall, it was a wonderful book and the characters will stay with me.

__________________________________________________​

One of my favorite parts was watching Levin and Kitty evolve, because I found them especially relatable.

Levin returning home disappointed and heartbroken decides that he is going to give up on love and focus on farming issues (short-lived of course):
‘The study was slowly lit up by the candle that was brought. Familiar details emerged: deer’s antlers, shelves of books, the back of the stove with a vent that had long been in need of repair, his father’s sofa, the big desk, an open book on the desk, a broken ashtray, a notebook with his handwriting. When he saw it all, he was overcome by a momentary doubt of the possibility of setting up that new life he had dreamed of on the way. All these traces of his life seemed to seize hold of him and say to him: ‘No, you won’t escape us and be different you’ll be the same as you were with doubts, with an eternal dissatisfaction with yourself, vain attempts to improve, and failures, and an eternal expectation of the happiness that has eluded you and is not possible for you.’
But that was how his things talked, while another voice in his soul said that he must not submit to the past and it was possible to do anything with oneself.’ (Part 1, Chapter 26, 93)

Who hasn't set out with big plans to become a better person, but moments later been doubtful of their ability to do so?

Levin's maturation at the end:
"This new feeling hasn’t changed me, hasn’t made me happy or suddenly enlightened, as I dreamed – just like the feeling for my son. Nor was there any surprise. And faith or not faith – I don’t know what it is – but this feeling has entered into me just as imperceptibly through suffering and has firmly lodged itself in my soul.

I'll get angry in the same way with the coachman Ivan, argue in the same way, speak my mind inappropriately, there will be the same wall between my soul's holy of holies and other people, even my wife, I'll accuse her in the same way of my own fear and then regret it, I'll fail in the same way to understand with my reason why I pray, and yet I will pray--but my life now, my whole life, regardless of all that may happen to me, every minute of it, is not only not meaningless, as it was before, but has the unquestionable meaning of the good which it is in my power to put into it!” (Part 1, Chapter 19, 817)
( )
1 vote tbritny | Mar 10, 2015 |
Got about a hundred pages into it and found it too annoying for words. Anna has no agency.
  byroade | Mar 8, 2015 |
Reading this book made me understand why Tolstoy is such a great writer. He understood history and psychology to write a classic. ( )
  m.t.sPace | Feb 3, 2015 |
It's questionable whether there's anything to say about Anna Karenina, but I firmly believe book reviews are as much for the reviewer as the review reader, and that everyone has a unique experience with a book, whether they're the first or the (seemingly) last to read it. My experience starts off with an abortive attempt to read this novel a few years ago. I was stymied by my lack of knowledge about Russian society and the time period, and my bemusement at the sections in which characters discuss rational farming methods, rural councils, or regional elections. On my second attempt, I found those parts easier to get through (perhaps because I've done some additional reading of Russian novels, including Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, and a biography of Catherine the Great, which gave some insight into the issues surrounding Russian serfdom). In any event, I realized this time that these parts, which had seemed interminable the first time through, are usually not more than a few pages long, with a couple of exceptions, and they didn't detract from the story much.

I enjoyed all the characters, in that I thought they were all well-drawn and interesting. My major complaint was the last 50 pages, when Anna's story has wrapped up and the only thing left is a far too preachy and lecturing section with Levin. If it weren't for that, I'd probably rate this a 5-star read.

Recommended for: fans of period costume dramas, people who like morals with their stories, anyone who can appreciate a novel that takes its time to develop storylines.

Quote: "Before ... a freethinker was a man who had been brought up on ideas of religion, law and morality and came to be a freethinker through inner struggle and hard work; but now you get a new type of born freethinkers who grow up without ever having even heard that there used to be laws of morality or religion, that there used to be authorities. They grow up in ideas of negation of everything, or in other words, savages." ( )
  ursula | Jan 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 379 (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
Schwartz, MarianTranslatorsecondary 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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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 37 descriptions

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