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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina (original 1877; edition 2012)

by Leo Tolstoy

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26,98047437 (4.15)5 / 1461
Title:Anna Karenina
Authors:Leo Tolstoy
Info:Simon & Brown (2012), Paperback, 1182 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877)

  1. 151
    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (roby72)
  2. 133
    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)
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    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. 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.
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    Henrik_Madsen: To romaner af murstensstørrelse der analyserer og beskriver overklassefamiliernes komplicerede liv.
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    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.
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    allthesepieces: Both books build complex stories that delve into the nature of loyalty in relationships.
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Showing 1-5 of 437 (next | show all)
This book was not for me! I listened to the audio book and had to check it out multiple times in order to get through it. I even sped up the track to get through it faster. I didn't like any of the characters and I didn't enjoy any of the politics. I know some people love this book but, again, it wasn't for me. I pushed through it just because it is on the "Must Read" lists. ( )
  midkid88 | Jun 19, 2017 |
I have my own personal category for certain types of novels: "Stupid People Doing Stupid Things, and Why Should I Care?" The characters in Anna Karenina mostly fall into this category, still, somehow, Tolstoy makes the novel interesting. Levin and Kitty are pretty much the only characters who are sympathetic. Anna Karenina is totally self-absorbed and self-pitying. I felt no pity whatsoever for her. I realize Tolstoy was making social statements about Russian culture at that time, but it might have worked better if Anna was a better person who was victimized by society and fought bravely rather than being pretty much a basket case. SPOILER ALERT:

When Anna comitted suicide, I didn't care, was glad to get this character out of the novel.

The translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is suberb. Years ago, when I was 14 I read War and Peace, translated by Louise and Alymer Maude with a forward by Clifton Fadiman. That was a good translation as well. Later, in my 30s, I tried to read War and Peace again, the Constance Garnett translation. It was, for me at least, pretty bad. A few years ago I bought War and Peace, the Pevear and Volokhonsky version and expect that to be a fine translation when I try reading the novel again. ( )
  CharlesBoyd | Jun 7, 2017 |
After the book had been sitting on my shelf collecting dust, I finally picked it up and read the book.

Initially I had difficulty getting into the book but I think it had to do with my frame of mind rather than the book. I was just tired and when you're reading while tire, especially if it's the start of the book, it's hard to maintain interest when you're eyes can't keep themselves open.

Quick synopsis:

The book opens up with deceit, which really sets the tone for the rest of the book. Dolly has just discovered her husband, Stepan, has been having an affair behind her back with her former governess. Stepan is unapologetic about it, but doesn't want his marriage to end nor does he think his gallivanting ways have to stop. Then we are introduced to Levin, Kitty, Vronsky - a triangle that isn't quite a triangle because Vronsky isn't really interested in Kitty the way she and her mother thinks he is. He's not interested in marriage. Kitty is of age and has enter society and looking to secure a husband. Levin is in love with Kitty and though he knows that he has competition with Vronsky he proposes to Kitty. Kitty turns Levin down, in favor of Vronsky, and days later Vronksy is introduced to Stepan's sister, Anna, and he is immediately taken with her - forgetting Kitty altogether. Anna had come to Moscow to help her brother, Stepan, and Dolly try to repair their marriage and avoid a divorce, which she successfully manges.

As Anna realizes the temptation Vronksy pose to her fidelity, she quickly tries to escape back to Petersburg to be with her husband, Karenin, and her son. However, she bumps into Vronsky at the train station and he follows her to Petersburg because he has fallen for her and cannot bear the thought of not seeing her. Their love affair begins in Petersburg and though Anna's husband, Karenin, is subconsciously aware that something is amiss, he does not allow it to surface nor to reproach Anna for her action. It's not until Anna, unable to stand being with her husband any longer, confesses to her husband that she's been unfaithful, vocalizing and confirming Karenin's suspicions. Even with this confession, Karenin isn't willing to give up on the marriage because he does love her and he doesn't want his son or himself to be embarrass in society by her dalliances. Karenin asks Anna to be discreet with her affair so society does not talk about it and that Vronsky is to never enter their home. When the latter promise is broken, Karenin is forced to follow through with his threats and intends to divorce Anna. Anna discovers she's pregnant and though she is repulsed by Karenin, she is concerned about her and her children's social standing if he follows through with the divorce and scared she'll lose her son, reaches out to her brother to intercede on her behalf. After giving birth to her daughter, Anna finds herself near death and writes to Karenin begging for his presence and his forgiveness. Though he had been hurt and embarrassed by Anna, Karenin's conscience and benevolence nature empowers him to grant her this request and in doing so finds himself at her bedside along with Vronksy. Anna ends up recovering and though during her deathbed she rediscovered her love for Karenin, she is unhappy in her marriage and finally with Stepan's persuasion, Karenin grants Anna a divorce that would not disclose her infidelity but Anna refuses. She can't stand Karenin's benevolence and instead, with Karenin's permission, takes off with Vronsky and her daughter to his countryside home and together they try to live as a family. However, two people with vanity such as theirs requires social interaction, which is difficult to achieve while living in the country. So they visit Petersburg, only to find that society has scorn Anna for her indiscretion. She is humiliated and retreats back to the country. Vronsky realizing that Anna being legally married to Karenin means he'll never have any legitimate heir because all their children would bear the name Karenin, tries to convince Anna to obtain a divorce. When Anna finally relents, more so to keep Vronsky, they move to Moscow. While in Moscow they encounter more and more strife within their relationship and Anna becomes increasingly jealous and withdrawn. Their relationship starts to crumble and so agree to return to their country home, to get away from all the public scrutiny and shame and to repair their relationship. However, a day before their departure Anna follows Vronsky to his mother because she is convinced he no longer loves her completely, but before she makes it to Vronsky's mother's place, Anna decides to jump in front of the train tracks and kills herself to end all the emotional pain she's endured.

Kitty after finding out Vronsky is in love with Anna and has no interest in her, finds herself alone and wishing she hadn't declined Levin's proposal. She knew she loved Levin more, but knowing her mother's wish for her to choose Vronsky she had mistakenly decline Levin's proposal. It isn't until a year later when Levin accidentally sees Kitty again driving through a town near his farm that he is able to work up the courage to ask Kitty for her hand in marriage. This time Kitty is certain Levin is the one and accepts his proposal. Once married, they move to Levin's country home, however, Levin is still insecure within their relationship and seems to be jealous of any men who show Kitty attention. Kitty on her part is consoling and comforting towards her husband in ensuring him that she loves only him. Kitty takes immediately to country life, understanding this is her husband's dream and desire and being a good wife meant embracing his dreams. They have children and are surrounded by love ones. Levin is dealing with a lot of his own personal demons but finds solace in Kitty and continues to live his life with Kitty and their children at the farm.

I find it interesting how the book is called Anna Karenina, but I was more interested in Levin and Kitty's story. Maybe, it has more to do with who I am than anything. I prefer the more sweet, honest love to the one filled with passion yet plagued with scandal and tainted by infidelity. I relate to Kitty more than Anna; I"m not as rash nor impulsive as Anna. In fact, Anna's story wasn't as interesting to me and I was really rooting for Karenin to rise above Anna's affair which in many ways he did. I had hope she would come to her senses and go back to her husband and her son. Anna and Vronsky love each other, that was apparent, but seem to have difficulty trusting each other and did not fully understand each other; which I feels reflects the way their relationship began. It takes more than love and lust to maintain a long lasting relationship and in ways the parallel between the two main love stories was indicative of that. Levin and Kitty's relationship wasn't built on lust or passion, their relationship was slow and methodical but they are committed to one another and selflessly try to put each other's needs ahead of their own. Contrast that to Anna and Vronsky's relationship where it was started off with passion, lust, instant attraction, and infidelity and though they love each other, they are unable to maintain that fire. Their fire may have burned brightly and fiercely but we know how fire can quickly get out of control if they aren't properly maintained and that's what I likened their relationship to, passion so out of control it destroyed them.

I really enjoyed the novel and found it to be such an interesting observation on love, family life, relationship, and depression in a fascinating era. I love the two love stories that differs from one another. It think having two love stories that are worlds apart, allows the readers to compare and contrast the two different loves and the difficulties within them regardless of how they come about. I was also intrigued with the depression that Anna and Levin both seem to struggle with and how each handled their depression. I have to admit that towards the end, Levin's deep depression and suicidal thoughts caught me off guard and I had to reread some passages again to ascertain I was interpreting it correctly. Love is the ultimate deciding factor each of their depression and each one uses love in a different way to determine how to proceed with life. This is another parallel I found interesting because one gives in to her depression and the other finds a way to overcome his, though it is a constant battle he'll continue to have to fight.

I would like to read it again another time and really take my time. I wasn't as interested in the politics infused in the story and kind of glossed over most of that - so I"d like to go back and really read and dissect the book. This was definitely a much faster read than War and Peace (which I have yet to finish). ( )
  jthao_02 | May 18, 2017 |
If your only acquaintance with Anna Karenina in the movies, just be aware that she is NOT the heroine of this very long book. Anna is the example of what a woman should bot be.. Instead, the real heroine is Princess Kitty, the young woman who is initially in love with Count Vronsky, but ultimately marries Levin who is clearly Tolstoy's alter ego as Tolstoy has Levin spouting page after page of Tolstoy's own half-baked theories on the superiority of rural over urban life and the superiority of the peasants over the aristocrats.

Kitty comes to realize that she needs to exchange her city luxuries for the simpler country life and in caring for Levin's tubercular. brother at the end of his life, Levin comes to recognize her superior nature.

Anna, in her obsessive love of Vronsky becomes a harridan, and in the end, outcast from polite society, ends her life. Once you wade through all of Tolstoy's philosophy, you realize why the movies boiled the story down to its tragic essence. ( )
1 vote etxgardener | May 13, 2017 |
I read this many, many years ago and always wanted to re-visit it. Suspecting there were too many other books ahead on my list I chose to download the audio version from my library. Upon first reading I was fascinated by the intricacies of social life as described by Tolstoy. This time around what impressed me was the timelessness of his writing. The characters seem as real as those in any modern novel. The social conventions and political discussions were still interesting but it was the characters lives that remained front and center this time around. ( )
1 vote Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 437 (next | show all)
Eindelijk Anna Karenina gelezen. Ik vond het een heftig boek. Soms wat lastig te lezen met al die Russische namen en bijnamen en familieverbanden. Sommige stukken waren heel intens, over geboorte en dood. Maar ik blijf achter met het gevoel dat ik het boek niet goed snap. Het duurt heel lang voordat het perspectief van Anna wordt gekozen (steeds staat iemand anders centraal, maar Anna blijft vooral iemand waar anderen omheen cirkelen. Wat haar gevoelens zijn, blijft lang onduidelijk). Pas op het laatst zijn er wat Eline Vere-achtige scenes (Couperus moet dit boek gelezen hebben), waarin waan en werkelijkheid door elkaar lopen. Het einde snapte ik absoluut niet. Reacties op de zelfmoord van Anna zijn er nauwelijks; de laatste 30 blz zijn een soort filosofische verhandeling. Het boek eindigt optimistisch. Als het boek zou herlezen (maar voorlopig niet), zou ik zeker de nieuwe vertaling nemen. Deze vertaling vond ik niet geweldig.

» 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, 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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Vengeance is mine; I will repay. ~ Deuteronomy 32:35
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)
"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.)
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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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«In Anna Karenina è rappresentata la colpa come ostacolo, anzi come barriera invalicabile al raggiungimento della felicità. Accanto ad Anna e a Vronskij, che non possono essere felici insieme, vediamo come Levin e Kitty ottengono in fondo con facilità, nonostante qualche dibattito interiore, quello che è negato agli altri due: ma Kitty ha saputo dimenticare Vronskij e, rinunciando a lui, rinunciare agli ideali poetici, ricchi di fascino e di bellezza esteriore, ricchi di pregi mondani, della sua giovinezza. Rinunciando a questi ideali, Kitty scopre che la realtà usuale e consueta, lungi dall'essere meschina e squallida, è assai preziosa e bella. È questa la storia di molti personaggi di Tolstoj».
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:39 -0400)

(see all 8 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)

(summary from another edition)

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