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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina (original 1877; edition 2012)

by Leo Tolstoy

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24,67042444 (4.15)5 / 1341
Title:Anna Karenina
Authors:Leo Tolstoy
Info:Simon & Brown (2012), Paperback, 1182 pages
Collections:Your library

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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877)

  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)
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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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    Henrik_Madsen: To romaner af murstensstørrelse der analyserer og beskriver overklassefamiliernes komplicerede liv.
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Showing 1-5 of 389 (next | show all)
Beyond excellent. Find Gary Morson's piece at https://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/the-moral-urgency-of-anna-karenina/
for a great perspective.
  ted_newell | Jun 20, 2015 |
Anna Karenina is the tragic story of the socialite’s marriage to Karenin and her affair with the wealthy Count Vronsky. The novel begins in the midst of their families break up due to her brother’s constant womanising; a situation that preferences her own situation throughout the novel. Running in parallel to this story of Konstantin Levin, a humble country landowner that wishes to marry Kitty, who is Anna’s sister in-law. Anna Karenina is a pinnacle piece of realist literature, exploring a wide range of family issues.

At over 800 pages, Anna Karenina can be a daunting novel to pick up; the large cast of characters does not make it any easier. I look at this classic novel as an exploration into melodrama that just about every family experiences. Born in 1828, Lev (Leo) Nikolaevich Tolstoy was born into a large and wealthy Russian landowning family, and has often been suggested that Anna Karenina is based on a similar social upbringing. While there are vast differences, issues with wealth, religion, farming and morality are issues that seem to parallel between reality and fiction. The story arch of Levin is considered to be autobiographical; Tolstoy’s first name is Lev (although in English he is known as Leo) and the Russian surname Levin actually means Lev.

Leo Tolstoy has been known for adding real life events into his fiction as a way with dealing with current political and social issues. Within Anna Karenina, events like the liberal reforms initiated by Emperor Alexander II of Russia and the judicial reform are used as the backdrop for the novel. This allows him to explore current issues, like the developing of Russian into the industrial age and the role of agriculture in these changing times. Also Tolstoy questions the role of the woman in this changing society and (the ever popular in Russian lit) class struggles.

The story of Anna Karenina is probably the most interesting for me and I enjoyed reading the struggle between love and the public opinion. She was trapped in a marriage and wanted to divorce but Karenin, who was a politician cared more about his public image. Then there is the fact that Anna’s brothers womanising destroyed the family and now she is faced with a similar situation that could cause the same damage. Adultery becomes a big theme within the book and seems to be a common theme within Russian literature to this day. However with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850) and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857), these three novels seemed to start a fascination in exploring the themes of passion and adultery in the mid to late nineteenth century.

There is a lot to explore within this book, and re-reading Anna Karenina was such an enjoyable experience. I know big books often scare me but there is something about going back to a much-loved novel that I find enjoyable. Leo Tolstoy intentionally made this novel long, he wanted to replicate life’s journey and the struggles people face along the way. I think he was able to capture that struggle and Anna Karenina will remain a favourite on my shelves and in Russian literature. There are so many more themes that could be explored within the novel but I will leave that for others to discover on their own.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2015/05/28/anna-karenina-by-leo-tolstoy/ ( )
  knowledge_lost | May 30, 2015 |

I'd read Anna Karenina once before, maybe 25 years ago, and felt then what I felt on this reading: very absorbed by Anna herself, whose story always pulled me in even though I knew what happens at the end; and generally repelled by the other main character, Levin, who is Tolstoy's representation of himself without the talent (as his wife put it). I must say that of the two of them it is Levin who I want to shake; he is immensely privileged, finds a woman who loves him, and yet is perpetually dissatisfied with his lot. Anna, on the other hand, makes some quite brave decisions (even if she arguably gets a lot of them wrong) and her tragedy is not that her adultery is karmically punished (as I have heard some people assert) but that the society in which she lives denies her the legal and emotional fulfilment she deserves. Vronsky and Karenin are both bad choices for her, and the consequences are terrible; but did she really have many other attractive options? As Joshua Rothman observes in a long article in the New Yorker, she is one of the best characters in fiction, totally understandable and sympathetic.

I did find that I disliked Levin a bit less this time round. I still find him one of the least likeable characters in literature, but perhaps he does undergo a moral lesson in the course of the book, learning to be satisfied with being like other people; he ends in the bosom of his happy family, just like all the others mentioned in the book's first sentence. Yet it's a bit unsatisfactory for me. Essentially Levin learns to respond to the challenges he sets himself by just not setting them any more, rather than by calibrating either his goals or his methods to fit the world as it is rather than the world as it should be. I can't see it as a completely happy ending.

One Levin section that I had completely forgotten, but which held me captivated, is the run of half a dozen chapters at the end of Part 6 where he and Vronsky are separately dragged into the Kashin provincial elections, in which Levin's brother is organising the campaign for a progressive candidate (progressive is of course a relative term here). Levin doesn't have a clue what is going on, and Tolstoy does a brilliant job of showing us the detail of the political process through the eyes of someone who doesn't actually understand it. It's a bit of a sidestep from the main plot - how shocking to find that happening in a Tolstoy novel! - but this psephologist appreciated it. ( )
  nwhyte | May 30, 2015 |
No one is probably more upset by my three-star rating than I am. I love the Russian greats. I love epic novels. I love Tolstoy. And yet, despite Anna Karenina’s status as a classic, this one only mildly worked for me.
First of all, the story is great. I love the drama. Whether it be Kitty and Vronsky, Anna and Karenin, Dolly and Oblonsky, Anna and Vronsky, Kitty and Levin, or Levin and Levin’s ego, I was entertained by the constant building up and tearing down of relationships. And these characters are wonderful. Their lives aren’t always the most exciting (though sometimes they are), but their internal dialogue really paints characters I want to know better.
I thought the foreshadowing was done exceptionally well, and though it was perhaps too evident what was going to happen in the end (it was the horse race that did it for me), the novel was not guilty of pandering to less observant readers. Further, some of the philosophical ramblings and moral considerations were entertaining and thought-provoking. Certainly it wouldn’t be Tolstoy without them.
For me, Anna K. lacked direction and focus, however. I’ve read War & Peace. I knew to expect long scenes and longer ramblings. But even with its epic cast and wide setting, W&P was a more tightly focused novel.
This lack of focus is evident in the title. Shouldn’t a book named Anna Karenina be about Anna Karenina? But really, it’s not. Sure, she’s a central figure and probably her story is the most memorable of the stories in the novel, but she’s not the most prominent character, nor is she necessarily the most well-drawn or interesting character.
The themes in Anna K. are strong and well-thought-out, yet Tolstoy’s net is cast so wide that many of them slip right through. What is this novel about? Well, love obviously. As well as gender roles, family, compassion, and… well… other stuff. Lots of other stuff.
I think these themes would’ve come through clearer had Tolstoy spent less time theorizing and more time on the building of characters. The story of Anna and Vronsky, for instance, appears more as a slide show than as a complete story: here is where we met *click* this is our first date *click* this is us post-shag *click*. I never really get a complete sense of who the people are. I understand what motivates Anna, but I want to see her decisions played out. I want to better feel—no, I want to see her turmoil played out. This turmoil is evident, as I mentioned earlier, in the thoughts of the characters, but I want see it unleashed on stage. The reader gets a vision of this turmoil during what I’ll call “the unraveling,” but I would’ve liked to have seen more of it earlier.
I’ve watched enough Russian films and read enough Russian stories to know that Russians do not like to be rushed. Yes, I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule, but I have yet to encounter one. Any story that can be told in 45 minutes will probably be stretched to two hours in the hand of a Russian. That’s fine. I can respect that. But in Anna Karenina, not only is Tolstoy taking his time to tell the story, but he’s running around, letting his ADD get the best of him while telling the story.
It’s a good story. If you haven’t already read it, then you should. But it’s possible (very possible) your mind will wander. If this wandering mind bothers you, just consider it an exercise in better understanding the author. And remember, not everything Tolstoy wrote was quite so digressive (long-winded, yes; but not without coherence). ( )
  chrisblocker | May 18, 2015 |
Never have I been so glad to finish a book. I love big books and I can get through them pretty fast but Anna Karenina took me forever because it was just so slow moving. Lots of characters to get confused. Some of the best parts of the book I was looking forward to, Anna and Vronsky finally being together were completely blown over and didn't know until she was pregnant. Then the rest of the book is her going back and forth on what to do stay with her husband or leave with her lover, when she finally makes that decision she's going back and forth on her feelings for Vronsky and what to do about her ex-husband. Really? Make a fucking decision already. Of course the other characters go through their own drama which was slightly better because it actually went somewhere. Kitty and Levin's relationship was the best part of the book and wished it focused more. Never plan to read this book again. ( )
  GrlIntrrptdRdng | May 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 389 (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
Tolstoy, Leomain 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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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
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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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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 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)

(summary from another edition)

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