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Thread: Should I read Anna Karenina?

  1. #1
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    Should I read Anna Karenina?

    I always hear or see on lists that it's one of the best novels, or at the least the best Tolstoy novel.

    The thing is, I happen to know the whole train incident near the end.. I don't want to actually say it for spoilers etc

    Will this book still be enjoyable regardless, I mean there are hundreds of pages, surely knowing that one part isn't going to deter my enjoyment of the book?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SirJazzHands View Post
    I always hear or see on lists that it's one of the best novels, or at the least the best Tolstoy novel.

    The thing is, I happen to know the whole train incident near the end.. I don't want to actually say it for spoilers etc

    Will this book still be enjoyable regardless, I mean there are hundreds of pages, surely knowing that one part isn't going to deter my enjoyment of the book?

    Should you read AK? Yes.

    Next question, please.

    (Does it matter if you think you know the end? Do you know how she gets there? Do you know what else happens in the book? Do you only read a book to find out what happens in the end? It's the journey, not the arrival that matters, as they say.)

  3. #3
    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
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    It is amazing novel and the beauty of it is not surpassed anywhere. That Tolstoy was a great artist and he had wonderful experiences and all of them were beautifully and marvelously expressed in his book.

    “Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hampering it with ceremonies and music and affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature””

    “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.

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    Bibliomaniac Guinivere's Avatar
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    Yes, yes a thousand times yes. Please read it. The story is beautifully written.
    My lifelong love affair with books and reading continues unaffected by automation, computers, and all other forms of the twentieth-century gadgetry.

    People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.
    Logan Pearsall Smith, 1931

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    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    I think you will still enjoy the book even if you already know the end. The end will be less shocking, but I still think it is worth reading.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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    The ending of Anna Karenina is one of the most famous and legendary ones in literary works in general. In fact, I hardly know of a person who read it without having known about the incident before they read it, which did not influence greatly the reading of the work itself; so if that is what you are concerned about, there is no reason to be.

  7. #7
    laudator temporis acti andave_ya's Avatar
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    Truthfully, I read AK without knowing anything of it and still didn't like her story. I thought she was a stupidly melodramatic, jealous woman. I much preferred Levin and Kitty's part in the story.
    "The time has come," the Walrus said,
    "To talk of many things:
    Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
    Of cabbages--and kings--
    And why the sea is boiling hot--
    And whether pigs have wings."

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    Read it!

    Yes, please! Do not pass on the opportunity to read this amazing book, my favourite! When I decided to read it, I already new the plot, and (as most people do) the end as well. Still, it amazed me in ways I cannot describe. I was prepared for an average, readable book, and ended up so caught up that it became the most life changing book I've ever read. I love it; it's my favourite book of all time! Besides, how she gets to that point you mentioned is a long journey full of the best of literature. And I'm guessing you'll appreciate, regarding the train incident, an extraordinary reference at the beginning of it, that you'll really comprehend by the end. Besides, hers is not the only story told, and Levin’s is beautifully deep and spiritual. Read, enjoy, it's definitely worth it!

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    Registered User Joreads's Avatar
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    It is a must read even if you know the ending. It was a book that I did not think I would enjoy but I was wrong and I loved it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by andave_ya View Post
    Truthfully, I read AK without knowing anything of it and still didn't like her story. I thought she was a stupidly melodramatic, jealous woman. I much preferred Levin and Kitty's part in the story.
    But Levin and Kitty are models to Tolstoy's ends, I do not think you can blame Anna herself for not liking her.

    This is not the thread to discuss the novel in depth, since the OP wants to know if it should be read. That I cannot answer. I read it years ago, more as a duty to "the canon" than not, and I grew somewhat angry with Tolstoy's masculine sensibility imposed on his portrayal of women.

    Leo Tolstoy is no Henry James.

    That said, there is some masterful insights on the hypocrisy in Russian spiritualism, on the shading between Anna's husband as cuckhold and Anna's husband as vindictive, some nice foreshadowing, and contrasts between Levin's conscious agonies and Anna's.

    The Op's curiosity seems whetted, so read it, slowly and with care.

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    I might also ask which translation I should read, but I might as well go with Pevear&Volohonsky.. sure they're the most popular, but for a reason, I think.. I once compared Constance Garnett's and P&V's translations of Notes from Underground, and P&V's just flows better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SirJazzHands View Post
    I might also ask which translation I should read, but I might as well go with Pevear&Volohonsky.. sure they're the most popular, but for a reason, I think.. I once compared Constance Garnett's and P&V's translations of Notes from Underground, and P&V's just flows better.
    Full disclosure: I was only made aware of the *Garnett issue* through surfing the network, but I am in favor of accuracy toward the text much more than artistic license, though I know zip about going from 19th century Russian to modern English.

    I'd stay away from Garnett if she took liberties.

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    Definitely read A.K.! You'll get so lost in the fabric of the story that you'll forget you even know the ending.

  14. #14
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.D. View Post
    You'll get so lost in the fabric of the story that you'll forget you even know the ending.
    I'd go much further. Since the best of the book precedes the ending, little is lost in knowing of the train incident beforehand.

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    I've just listened to AK on an audiobook, a couple of days ago, and I was completely hooked. The only problem was that it was an abridged version, so I know that there is so much more to it than I heard, in particular about Levin, who I can't even remember being mentioned. It only seemed to concentrate on Anna and Vronsky, and of course as so much was cut out I don't know if Anna was correct in her assumptions about Vronsky or not. Obviously this is the drawback with abridged versions, they can change your reading of the text completely. I also listened to Vanity Fair, which I have read, and so know what was cut out there, namely that Becky Sharp had had a liaison with another character, (careful of spoling), which wasn't mentioned at all, which could completely change a person's view of those characters and the story. So I have the book of AK and am now going to read it. What I did hear I loved, so I would say definitely go for it.

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