Anna Karénina

Анна Каренина
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Shandon Classics
Constance Garnett
April 1, 2023 May 25, 2023
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Acclaimed by many as the world's greatest novel, Anna Karenina provides a vast panorama of contemporary life in Russia and of humanity in general. In it Tolstoy uses his intense imaginative insight to create some of the most memorable characters in literature. Anna is a sophisticated woman who abandons her empty existence as the wife of Karenin and turns to Count Vronsky to fulfil her passionate nature - with tragic consequences. Levin is a reflection of Tolstoy himself, often expressing the author's own views and convictions.

Throughout, Tolstoy points no moral, merely inviting us not to judge but to watch. As Rosemary Edmonds comments, 'He leaves the shifting patterns of the kaleidoscope to bring home the meaning of the brooding words following the title, 'Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.


About the book

Leo Tolstoy’s novel “Anna Karénina” follows the story of two families and focuses on the love affairs of the characters. The book explores the “double standard” of society at the time and the strict morals women were forced to follow.

What I think

I liked the book better than War and Peace. While I don’t agree with what Anna is doing, I understand the book’s double standard. That is, her brother, for example, is in the same situation as Anna, he has many mistresses but society does not judge him because he is a man. Morality was everything in those times but only if you are a woman. I also understand Anna’s feeling towards Vronsky. Forced to marry a man 20 years her senior, not yet knowing what love was, it is natural that as soon as she finds out she understands who she is married to.

Obviously I liked the part of Levin and Kitty better even if I called Levin an idiot a few times.

I like the theory of opposites Stiva vs Karenin, Vronsky vs Levin and Anna vs Kitty.

I didn’t think I’d read a Tolstoy book so quickly especially after War and Peace, but I read it in less than two months when I had proposed at least 3 months as for Les Miserables. I guess, I’m taking a break from these “chunks” now as I enter the heat of my job, but I already know what’s next. Meanwhile I will read “little classics”.

However, of all Tolstoy’s books (okay between his two most famous ones) I recommend Anna Karenina and above all I would read it before War and Peace, only because it is obviously less involved in Russian history.

Again, I’m glad I didn’t read the introduction before the book. Total spoiler about Anna and what happens!

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