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Anna Karenina

a novel by Leo Tolstoy

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A detailed, devastating and delightful journey.

  • Jun 10, 2010
Rating:
+5
We start out in one man's head. A sin has been committed against his wife -- that of adultery -- but is it really so wrong to merely follow one's own true feelings? Should one persist in a state like induced catatonia if the life one leads is conducive to one's happiness? This question is considered again and again in Tolstoy's epic classic.

Oblonksy, a highly intelligent, clever, though lazy and not particularly learned man, skirts across Russia as both observer and catalyst of many of the both melodramatic and sarcastic events which unfold therein. Sometimes, however, he is not present at all! It is a particular gift of Tolstoy's to be able to introduce a character, shortly thereafter evincing their very own perspectives on life, and seamlessly interspersing these as the story progresses.

Indeed, in this way there are not one but many stories Tolstoy tells. We follow not only Oblonsky, but his wife Dolly, his good friend Constantine Dmitrich Levin, his sister Anna Karenina, her husband Alexei Alexandrovich Karenina and her lover Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky, and a great many others. And, of course, like most Russian writers or the day, we are given a harsh, objective, yet sometimes playful and lighthearted portrayal of peasant life in serfdom.

But Tolstoy is unique if for nothing other than his extraordinary attention to social, industrial, psychological, and environmental detail. For example, one is not merely invited into the home of a landowner and served tea ala Gogol, or made as a passive observer to peasant hardship as  Chekhov would have it. Tolstoy thoroughly engages the reader in each facet of the emotional and physical lives of nearly every personality encountered. Thus while in the city jealousies brew, hearts dance, and indulgences are satisfied, we are sometimes someplace entirely different whetting our scythes, drinking vodka on the fields, eating bread and drinking grassy water from a rusty bucket. Yet, indeed, while all this continues we could just as well be lying destitute on a deathbed or contriving ambitious schemes of public government. And still more is happening all around us -- the world grows and fades, colors and clothes of all sorts pass us by, random faces steeped in meaningful expressions appear on every street.

When one picks up Tolstoy, they must be prepared to tread a great many worlds in one, each with its own array of beauty and despair.

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August 06, 2010
Great review Dmitri! If you haven't seen it yet, perhaps you'd be interested in the 2007 movie? I doubt it is as good as the book, but you can take a look at @Byron_Kolln's review of the Anna Karenina movie. 
 
August 03, 2010
excellent review. It captures the books essence perfectly and was very informative for those who have not read it.
 
June 18, 2010
Fantastic review of this classic, Dmitri.  Thanks so much for sharing!
 
June 16, 2010
Excellent review. LOVE your concluding statement enough to quote it in random discussion. Thank you!
 
June 10, 2010
Sounds like a great read! I'm adding this one to my Goodreads TBR shelf. :)
 
June 10, 2010
Sounds like a typical Russian novel in many ways but not quite as deep, lengthy or heavy as a War and Peace for example. Perhaps I should give this one a try. I am trying to do a better job reading more classics lately.
June 10, 2010
It really isn't. And if we want to continue down the road of rating Tolstoy's novels by deepness, then something such as Resurrection could only follow. I would still recommend the both of them.
 
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More Anna Karenina (book) reviews
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
One of the greatest novels ever. Tolstoy has a profound ability to explore his characters, however much he seems to hate them.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
everything one would expect from a great Russian writer
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Loved it!
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
I like the story. You learn as well a bot about the Russian culture and history.
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
A lesser-known gem by one of the most prestigious authors in history.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
Perhaps one of the most fascinating stories of all time. Once you read this you'll understand why it's considered a classic. The story is as relevant today as it was when it was published. It's one of my favorite books.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
i have been actively reading anna karenina for eight years. it's gorgeous and awe-inspiring... but it's just too damn long! sorry, leo. sorry, most russian authors. still love y'all!
Quick Tip by . June 11, 2010
good romance and character study.
review by . June 27, 2009
  Anna Karenina is my favorite novel. Originally published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877, it is regarded by many as the pinnacle of realistic fiction. With its themes of fidelity and infidelity, city life versus country life, and depth of thought versus superficiality it addresses fundamental aspects of human behavior. It is narrated from a third person omniscient perspective that shifts from character to character allowing the reader to see the point of view of several of the …
review by . October 03, 2009
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, is perhaps the world's greatest novel.   If the story took place today, Anna would divorce Karenin, keep custody of her child, marry her lover, launch a career as an author, and divorce her second husband to embark on a third and finally happy marriage. No tragedy there.  And Kitty would move in with Vronsky before he met Anna,spoiling her future relationship with Levin. No bliss.    As it is instead, there is more drama than can be packed into …
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Dmitri ()
Ranked #494
      Hi! I'm a rootin' tootin' book bandit from the west! There's not much more to say about that!
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ISBN-10: 0451528611 (MM pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780451528612 (MM pbk.)
Publisher: Signet Classics
Date Published: November 5, 2002

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