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Anna Karenina

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First published between 1875 and 1877.


Translated by Constance Black Garnett (1862-1946) in 1917.

Considered by some to be the greatest novel ever written, Anna Karenina is Tolstoy's classic tale of love and adultery set against the backdrop of high society in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. A rich and complex masterpiece, the novel charts the disastrous course of a love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer. Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together the lives of dozens of characters, and in doing so captures a breathtaking tapestry of late-nineteenth-century Russian society.

Set in nineteenth century Russia, this masterpiece illustrates the pressure of living up to the expectations and quota of an unforgiving society and the personal choices individuals face which alter their destinies. A read which leaves the responder unable to forget the lessons taught; it gives true meaning to learning from other people's experiences and mistakes. A guide which leads by example in demonstrating the challenges one faces in the pursuit of happiness and contentment and the grueling outcomes of what some of these choices produce.--Submitted by Sonja Golub


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Recent Forum Posts on Anna Karenina

Was Anna Karenina mentally ill?

Anna does not seem to be behaving very rationally towards the end. She is exasperating. She appears to have lost her perspective. Her emotions are raw and her thoughts are disjointed. She is constantly ascribing feelings and motives to other people when she has no justification for doing so. Is she actually mentally ill? What would a psychiatrist/psychologist (I don't understand the difference) diagnose?

Communist attitudes to Anna Karenina

I finished part 3 yesterday. It is interesting about Levin's attempts to improve farming practices and his experiments in profit sharing with his peasant farmers. He is frustrated because his hired workers will not buy into his ideas, such as using iron ploughs, etc. Whatever his instructions, his labourers will circumvent them if they can, because they are used to their old ways. His brother, Nikolai criticized him for stripping off Communist ideas but not going far enough. It was quite interesting to read that Communist ideas had already taken root. Then there are these zemstvo local councils that had recently been introduced. Serfs had only been emancipated about 20 years earlier. I wondered what Lenin and the other Communist revolutionaries would have made of Anna Karenina. What would they think of Levin?

Russian internationalism in Anna Karenina

I was rather surprised by how good the Russian nobles were at languages. They all speak French fluently, particularly when they do not want to be overheard by the servants. They seem to speak English pretty well, and German to a lesser extent. They are often engrossed in some English or French novel, although translated or in the original language it is not clear. I suppose this is the reason they employ French and English governesses. At the start of the book, Prince Oblansky is in trouble with his wife for having slept with the French governess, and their children were under the care of an English governess, Mrs Hall. It looks like there were quite a few opportunities for European servants. Prince Oblansky had his French and English governesses. Count Vronsky had an English horse trainer. A German footman was mentioned. If things had worked out differently for Jane Fairfax (Emma) or Gwendolen Harleth (Daniel Deronda), maybe they could have found employment in a new, interesting country. All in all, the Russian aristocracy seemed to be good Europeans. They are prepared to travel hundreds and hundreds of miles to visit German spas. They keep themselves informed on all the latest scientific and philosophical developments. They were building railways. They were even starting to introduce social reforms after centuries of stagnation, no doubt influenced by what they were studying in the universities. They do not seem to be close minded.

All the names in Anna Karenina

I have started reading Anna Karenina. It is my first Russian book. One thing that has struck me is that there are a lot of names. Not only are there a lot of characters, but they are frequently called by different names. I thought I would have more trouble than I have had, but I have been noting down the names in a pad and perhaps that helped. For example, the character the book starts with is variously called Oblonsky, Stepan Arkadyich or Stiva. I think his full title is Prince Stepan Arkadyich Oblonsky, and Stiva is a nickname. Anna Karenina herself is often referred to as Anna Arkadyevna. There are a surprising number of princes and princesses in the book, considering they do not seem to be siblings.

Levin what a wonderful person he is...........Golden heart and pure soul.......

I am reading Anna Karenina and the person who has greatly influenced me is Levin . ..............Levin is a man of great virtues and equally professional person (he has some great views on farming ) . Even if he is the master land owner then too Levin went to plough the land...... These lines are taken from Literature Network Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina Chapter 16..........shows how pure his soul is and even if Kitty had earlier disappointed him by saying no to his proposal then too he wishes not to have any secrets between him and her,,,, The confession he had promised was the one painful incident of this time. He consulted the old prince, and with his sanction gave Kitty his diary, in which there was written the confession that tortured him. He had written this diary at the time with a view to his future wife. Levin, not without an inner struggle, handed her his diary. He knew that between him and her there could not be, and should not be, secrets, and so he had decided that so it must be. But he had not realized what an effect it would have on her, he had not put himself in her place. It was only when the same evening he came to their house before the theater, went into her room and saw her tear-stained, pitiful, sweet face, miserable with suffering he had caused and nothing could undo, he felt the abyss that separated his shameful past from her dovelike purity, and was appalled at what he had done........... All I want to know what you guys think about Levin..........Is he not the main hero of anna_karenina

My Anna Karenina Review

Please read and let me know what you think; http://notesfromzembla.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/anna-karenina/

Why does Anna Karinina feel repulsion, hatred, loathing toward Alexander Karinin?

Why does Anna Karinina feel repulsion, hatred, loathing toward Alexander Karinin? She recognizes that she has wronged him and that he has in turn been tremendously kind. In fact, he has been extremely forgiving and large hearted about the whole affair. Why does she dislike him so such to the point that even looking at him brings feelings of loathing? She's felt this toward him since the start of the relationship with Vronsky.

Misogyny in Anna Karenina

(In response to manolia's and Kelby Lake's arguments in http://www.online-literature.com/forums/showthread.php?t=32974&page=3) It's not a black-and-white thing, but on the whole I agree with the misogyny accusation levered on Tolstoy. To be sure, there are the two good points against that notion: 1) one could argue that his treatment of women isn't any more misogynistic than the general Russian 19th century mindest (that is, we fall prey to the famous historian's fallacy); 2) Anna Karenina, a female character with whom the reader is supposed to empathise, essentially claims that her right to pursuit happiness prevails over (then) contemporary social conventions and notions of a married woman's obligations. This last point sure seems to hint at proto-feminism to me. But the novel isn't a proto-feminist one because in the end Anna is punished for her waywardness. She's a 'fallen woman' who in the end achieves nothing to be proud of. This is reminiscent of the novella 'Family Happiness', an interesting precursor of AK. In it, the female character, portrayed as being rather immature, flirts with the idea of adultery, but doesn't do it, and, upon letting her husband know she's unhappy in her marriage, she's told to forget about her lusts and find happiness in raising her child, which she does. Both stories together form what I think is what Tolstoy might have thought about what's 'right' and what's 'not right' when it comes to love and marriage. But what do you think? Is Anna Karenina misogynous or proto-feminist, or neither?

Best translation of Anna Karenina?

I'm planning on reading Tolstoy's Anna Karenina next year and could use some advice on the best translation. Any views? Thanks :D

The similarities between Karenin and Vronsky?

It's no coincidence that both men are called Alexei. But did Tolstoy do this to contrast how different the two Alexeis were, or to suggest that there were similarities?

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