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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina (original 1877; edition 1944)

by Leo Tolstoy (Author), Fritz Eichenberg (Illustrator), Constance Garnett (Translator)

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31,40453158 (4.15)7 / 1577
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)
Title:Anna Karenina
Authors:Leo Tolstoy (Author)
Other authors:Fritz Eichenberg (Illustrator), Constance Garnett (Translator)
Info:Nelson Doubleday, Inc. (1944), Edition: 1st, 736 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877)

  1. 172
    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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    The Princesse de Clèves 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.
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    Henrik_Madsen: To romaner af murstensstørrelse der analyserer og beskriver overklassefamiliernes komplicerede liv.
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    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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    sparemethecensor: Irina Reyn updates the classic _Anna Karenina_ to the Russian diaspora of New York City.
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    snarkhunting: Both books build complex stories that delve into the nature of loyalty in relationships.
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  14. 11
    A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth (uri-starkey)
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The first time I read AK (in the Pev & Vol translation) I was a little disappointed; this time, in this recent Marian Schwartz translation, no such problems. I'm still not ready to rank it *ahead* of War & Peace, but I now concede that it is, in fact, a masterpiece of a novel. In large part this is because (for whatever reason) this time through I was quite comfortable with not liking Anna or Vronsky at all; the first time I read it, I thought I was meant to like them, and didn't.

Well, you know about the book. It's good. If you don't know it, there are plot spoilers ahead.

Schwartz's translation is very interesting--much less literary than Pev & Vol, a kind of AK for the post Knausgaard world, maybe? Except Schwartz worked on it for 10 years, so it's not as if she just heard that people maybe were looking to read very long, unliterary books, and whipped this off last week. But the comparison (to other fellows (always fellows) on the "strip it back to the wood" side of things (e.g., Eggers)) is interesting, because Schwartz's Tolstoy not only got in first (see the theoretical discussion of French literature towards the end of the book), but did it so much better that I suspect the Eggerses and potentially even the Knausgaards might be better off doing something else.

Here's how Schwartz rendered my favorite line from my first reading:

"One cannot forbid someone to make himself a big wax doll and kiss it. But if this person with the doll were to come and sit down before a man in love and begin caressing his doll the way the lover caressed his beloved, the lover would find it distasteful."

And despite the awkwardness, it's not too unpleasant to read the whole thing like this. Tolstoy's points become clearer in prose that avoids the niceties, and his psychological precision is just as impressive. Consider the second to last part, which ends with Anna's suicide: in this volume, it's excruciatingly boring, like Proust only with all the humor and style drained out. We follow Levin and Dolly into 'society.' He visits everyone in Moscow; they are incomprehensibly dull. She visits Anna and Vronsky, they are painfully fake and ridiculous. This goes on for quite some time. It's very, very, very boring--and then Anna kills herself, and even though I'm not a big fan of Anna, it's pretty obvious why. She's trapped herself in this fake and ridiculous life, and not only that, she can only yearn for the incomprehensibly dull. She no longer wants (what Tolstoy considers) solid and good. She lives in complete despair--and by making those chapters so, so dull, we feel that despair entirely.

Take that, David Foster Wallace. Also, Anna's stream-of-consciousness is far more impressive than Molly Bloom's. So take that, Joyce.

None of which is to say Tolstoy is better than those guys. Just they are better, it isn't because they're better at the things they're famous for. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
First book by Tolstoy I've read. I've been shamefully neglectful. It's long but not at all difficult to read.

The translator, in his notes at the end, refers to Tolstoy's "style" as "flat-footed". Tolstoy just says what he means, does not get literary about it. The translator said this made his job easy. I'd have to agree about the style. He takes us from here to there, tells us what we need to know (and much we maybe don't), gets the job done.

The story is about Anna, yes, but more so about Levin. Konstantine Levin, whose life is much like Tolstoy's and whose thoughts probably echo his as well, is in love with Kitty. Levin is in his thirties while Kitty is 18. He has actually seen her grown up and his love for her grew as well. When he finally gets up the courage to ask her to marry him, he learns that he has a rival, Count Vronsky. Kitty, encouraged by her mother, decides she is better off with Vronsky so tells Levin it's "impossible" when he approaches her for her hand. Nearly destroyed, Levin retreats to his country house, where he tends his farm and ruminates on farming, on peasants, on the state of the world and the state of his mind.

Meanwhile, Anna Karenina (called Karenin in this version, the Anglicized version of her name) meets Vronsky and the two are immediately taken with each other. Vronsky, a playboy by nature, has never been affected by a woman in this way. Anna, who prided herself in being a good wife to her older, cold husband, feels an awakening of passion. This situation leaves poor Kitty out in the cold, and she eventually takes herself off to a spa, where she even learns to help others.

Did I mention that these events take place among the upper class? Tolstoy, himself a count, was intimately familiar with how things worked in Russia among the upper classes. This is one reason I enjoyed reading this book as opposed to a book about the same period written by someone today. We can feel fairly confident that the manners, expectations, dress, conflicts, were familiar at the time, were not something imposed by a current writer on a time in the past.

Levin continues to work, to think about how to make his farm profitable (most farmers in Russia apparently were in the red most of the time), how to work with the peasants to get not only higher yields in less time but also how to approach work more like a peasant, and how to get his own life on a good track. Levin, who seems a good fellow, is oblivious to how life really is for the peasant. He thinks they simply enjoy themselves. It may be true that they make the best of their situation and that they are resigned to it, but would education really be wasted on them, as Levin thinks? What he thinks, really, is that an educated peasant would not be good for his own business, and what really matters is what matters to him, Levin. A great deal of the novel is essentially philosophy. Tolstoy working his way through different views of the world. I wonder if much of this might have done better in another novel.

In time, Anna breaks down and has sex with Vronsky. I found it a little funny that this momentous occasion is described in one sentence. Many words, paragraphs, pages on farming and peasants, and one sentence to describe what some might consider the critical moment of the tale.

From here on she hides her relations but many in society know what is going on. Only her husband does not.

How much should I give away here? Many people know the gist of the story so I may not be giving much away, but just a warning: from here on there may be more detail than you want to read if you haven't yet read the book.

Eventually Anna decides she must tell her husband. He does not take it well. His focus has always been how he appears, and this is no different. He does not consider what the best course of action is but rather what looks best. He knows he would be bested in a duel and can't imagine losing his life for something he did not himself do. He believes divorce would look bad. So he decides to give Anna an ultimatum: continue living together as if nothing had happened, but she would no longer see Vronsky.

It doesn't quite work out. She does continue to see Vronsky on the side, secretively, until a point when she has to move out altogether and move in with Vronsky in his lavish house. There she lives, essentially secreted away, while Vronsky continues to be welcome in society and makes the most of it. For a woman infidelity is far different than for a man. Over time she becomes more and more distressed, blaming Vronsky for everything, attacking him every time he comes home. Although it's clear that Vronsky has the better life, I had to feel some sympathy for him. He really has no clue. I suspect, at this point, that many would think that Anna is going mad. I'd rather not, but I waver.

Meanwhile ... Levin has had the opportunity to ask Kitty again. The two marry, life is wonderful except for Levin's jealousy. Kitty gives birth, Levin is transformed. He has an epiphany while lying in the grass. The world looks different to him.

And Anna throws herself under a train.

Vronsky is inconsolable. Levin, meanwhile, who had met Anna and liked her tremendously, does not even think of her death. His own life begins to make sense.

Yes, I liked it, yet I felt I could not really like any of the characters, except perhaps Kitty. Anna became annoying, Vronsky was all about himself, Levin rather pompous in his farmer way. I would have liked less philosophy by Levin and perhaps more of what was really inside Anna.
( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
Господь наш! Даруй нам отраду глаз в наших супругах и потомках и сделай нас образцом для богобоязненных
  AAAO | Aug 20, 2020 |
Not sure what I can say that hasn't been stated countless times before, impressed particularly with the complexity of the inner lives. All the main characters are fully rounded, Tolstoy encouraging empathy for almost all the situations. Anna's despair of her situation at the close was harrowing, one of the best written accounts of depression I can remember reading. Glad I read the book after some life experience, not sure what I'd get out of it as a teenager. ( )
  arewenotben | Jul 31, 2020 |
How I loved this book! The nearly 800 pages seem daunting, but the novel's slow pace is captivating, and the characters unforgettable. Relationships, family, faith, class struggles, sin and existential crises -- it's an amazing and wonderful read. I shall not spoil it for any of you. Take time to enjoy it and savor it. ( )
  MMKY | Jul 3, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 488 (next | show all)
De nieuwe vertaling van Anna Karenina leest als een trein, dankzij allerlei knappe vondsten van vertaler Hans Boland.

» Add other authors (236 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tolstoy, Leoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bayley, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carmichael, JoelTranslatorsecondary 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
Greenwood, E. B.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gurin, JacobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gurin, Morris S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gyllenhaal, MaggieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hašková, TatjanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horovitch, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hughes, JennyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huisman, WilsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kool, Halbo C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leclée, JacobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magarshack, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mandelker, AmyIntroductionsecondary 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
Reimann, RolfIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roseen, UllaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schwartz, MarianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trausil, HansContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Troyat, HenriIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volohonsky, LarissaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zinovieff, KyrilTranslatorsecondary 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.)
(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.

Please keep the Norton Critical Edition 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.
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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.

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Wikipedia: Anna Karenina (Russian: «Анна Каренина», IPA: [ˈanːə kɐˈrʲenʲɪnə])[1] is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in book form in 1878. Many writers consider Anna Karenina the greatest work of literature ever,[2] and Tolstoy himself called it his first true novel. It was initially released in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger.

A complex novel in eight parts, with more than a dozen major characters, it is spread over more than 800 pages (depending on the translation and publisher), typically contained in two volumes. It deals with themes of betrayal, faith, family, marriage, Imperial Russian society, desire, and rural vs. city life. The plot centers on an extramarital affair between Anna and dashing cavalry officer Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky that scandalizes the social circles of Saint Petersburg and forces the young lovers to flee to Italy in a search for happiness. Returning to Russia, their lives further unravel.

Trains are a recurring motif throughout the novel, which takes place against the backdrop of rapid transformations as a result of the liberal reforms initiated by Emperor Alexander II of Russia, with several major plot points taking place either on passenger trains or at stations in Saint Petersburg or elsewhere in Russia. The novel has been adapted into various media including theatre, opera, film, television, ballet, figure skating and radio drama. The first of many film adaptations was released in 1911 but has not survived.
Haiku summary
The moral of this:
Adultery drives one mad.
And watch out for trains.

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4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0451528611, 0140449175, 0141194324, 0141391898

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