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Anna Karenina [Paperback]

Leo Tolstoy , Richard Pevear
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Jan. 17 2002 --  
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Book Description

Jan. 17 2002
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, Richard Pevear and Larissa 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.

"Pevear and Volokhonsky are at once scrupulous translators and vivid stylists of English, and their superb rendering allows us, as perhaps never before, to grasp the palpability of Tolstoy's 'characters, acts, situations.'" (James Wood, The New Yorker)

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From Library Journal

Pevear and Volokhonsky, winners of the 1991 PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize for their version of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, have produced the first new translation of Leo Tolstoy's classic Anna Karenina in 40 years. The result should make the book accessible to a new generation of readers. In an informative introduction, Pevear gives the reader a history of the work Tolstoy called his first true novel and which took him some four years to write. Pevear explains how Tolstoy took real events, incorporated them into his novel, and went through several versions before this tale of the married Anna and her love for Count Vronsky emerged in its final form in 1876. It was during the writing of the book that Tolstoy went through a religious crisis in his life, which is reflected in this novel. The translation is easily readable and succeeds in bringing Tolstoy's masterpiece to life once again. For all libraries. Ron Ratliff, Kansas State Univ., Manhattan
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


The new and brilliantly witty translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is a must -- Lisa Appignanesi Independent, Books of the Year Pevear and Volokhonsky are at once scrupulous translators and vivid stylists of English, and their superb rendering allows us, as perhaps never before, to grasp the palpability of Tolstoy's "characters, acts, situations" -- James Wood New Yorker --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Pete
It's a rarity to come across books that have something remarkably accurate to say about your personal life (and challenge your beliefs) but "Anna" is definately one of them.
I just studied this novel for my english class and I found it fascinating.
It's not usually the kind of book I read (my knowledge of Russia in the 1900s is pretty bad and I worried I wouldn't understand a word of it) but I still found myself enjoying Tolstoy's story.
An 800 page read, I thought I might not have the patience to get through it (and at my reading pace it took a good couple of months - in between uni work etc.) However the way in which Tolstoy peoples his pages keeps you engulfed in his passionate world.
The reader feels as if they're growing old with the characters. Tolstoy presents, and allows for, many discussion and debate on the societal and moral values placed on the contraversial Anna and Levin.
Though this novel was written long ago it's themes are still applicable today, which makes for a great read.
The premise is perhaps not what draws readers (Characters throughout Tolstoy's novel experience dramatic changes in their life - beginning with Anna's affair) but the complicated way in which Tolstoy presents many different issues.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The translation makes all the difference. March 22 2004
By A Customer
I have been reading Anna Karenina for quite a long time. I read it for a time, put it down to read another book, then picked it back up again to read some more. I did this over and over because I was intrigued by the story but my reading of it was very labored. Tolstoy is complex to begin with (an understatement, to be sure) but the translation I was reading made it difficult for me to wade through. When I was about half way through the book, someone directed me to this more recent translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky (my husband highly recommends their translation of The Brothers Karamozov). I picked up in this translation where I left off in the other and I could not believe the difference! This translation is incredibly fluid - while maintaining the complexity and beauty of Tolstoy's creation. Without exaggerating in the slightest, this story came alive when I switched to this translation. Now I cannot put it down and I am almost finished with the book. Get this book! It makes Tolstoy come alive to us - the everyday common reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest romance of them all. July 6 2004
Who would have thought this novel would soar to the top of the amazon charts? Certainly not the translators, Pevear and Volokhonsky, who were shocked to hear their edition had been selected for Oprah's Book Club. It is great boon for them and the novel as well, which might be regarded as the godmother of the modern romance novel. Tolstoy weaves a magic web, bringing together dysfunctional aristocratic families in perhaps the most memorable Russian novel.
This translation brings the story to life for the non-Russian speaker. Pevear and Volokhonsky have made a habit out of translating Russian novels, from Gogol to Dostoevsky, and now are even tackling Tolstoy's epic work, War and Peace. The language is modern yet true to the Russian original, thanks in large part to Ms. Volokhonsky who is a native Russian speaker.
The story itself has been told so many times before that it doesn't need repeating. But for those who would like a little more insight into the novel, I would suggest reading Nabokov's chapter on Anna Karenina in his Lectures on Russian Literature, as he provides many valuable references over and above those provided by Pevear and Volokhonsky.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've ever read June 7 2004
After owning this book for almost a year and being intimidated by it's 800 pages, I finally dug in about a month ago. All I can say is this: On June 1st, I ran out to purchase David Sedaris' new book, which I have been waiting for these last 4 years with breathless anticipation....but instead of devouring it immediately, I finished the last 100 pages of Anna first. That says alot for my commitment to this amazing book! I was so enthralled...the rich inner lives of these characters, the beautiful writing. I found myself reading sentences over and over, basking in their beauty.
I am surprised by the reviewers comments that the decisions and scenarios in this book are black and white, that the characters are stereotypes. I think the opposite is true---Tolstoy gives you a window into the thought life of every character and a glimpse at just how "grey" their struggles really are, the duality of their lives. Like Vronksy's desparate love for Anna, coupled with the nagging notion that he just might have left behind a life that he misses. Who cares (as many readers apparently do) that Anna doesn't show up until 80 pages in???? This book is more than one woman, it is a masterpeice filled with many memorable characters, male and female alike. It's the richness of the supporting characters that take this book to the next level. Simply amazing!
I tend to loathe Oprah for her book club "magic wand", but I am happy that she will bring a new crop of readers to this wonderful piece of literature. Not only will you appreciate the plot and the characters, you will appreciate the craft of writing itself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Good Reviews are Alike . . . Dec 24 2002
By Juana
I had finally read my 10 year old copy of Anna Karenina to death. Therefore I decided to buy a new one. I was a bit leery about trying a new translation, but this edition pleased me very much.
There are three main reasons that I recommend this book:
1. Great Story
2. Very good Translation
3. Durable Hard Cover
Great Story
In this novel Tolstoy presents marriage and human relationships in a realistic manner. Anna Karenina details a passionate love affair and it's doleful consequences. The reader experiences this tumultuous love from the point of view of the two paramours, as well as the friends and family members whom their lives touch.

Nevertheless, a tale about a cheating wife does not great literature make.
The existential struggle for meaning in life and the nature of God figures strongly as a theme in Anna Karenina. Overshadowing, in my opinion, even the experiences of the book's namesake. Any lover of philosophy will enjoy this book immensely.
The Translation
As I mentioned before, this is a good translation. By good, I mean the following:
1. Russian words are footnoted - Some words lose their meaning and cultural context when translated to English. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky did a wonderful job leaving these terms in tact. There are notes at the back of the book that fully explain each Russian word.
For example, who knew that the "roll" that Stiva eats in my previous translation was actually a "kalatch?"
2. Names of the Characters are Preserved - Princess Darya Alexandrovna Oblonsky is also known as Darya and sometimes as Dolly. The use of names and nicknames is very important in language. I appreciate that the translator preserved the use of the patronymic and various names of each character.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars dragged on.....
Book drags on, hard to get into...i kept starting it and then reading it. Never managed to finish the book.
Published 8 months ago by candace latham
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time best classics
Anna Karenina is a remarkable story by one of the few mega-novelists of all times. In every way, it is an ageless story that is more real than fiction. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Peter Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Gift
I bought this book as a gift for a friend. She absolutely loved the beautiful cover and the paperback cover.
Published 18 months ago by Amanda Nelson
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars; a little lengthy but worth the effort
[Cross-posted to LibraryThing and LivingSocial]

I was a little daunted going into Anna Karenina, I thought of it as the ultimate Classic of Classics and I'd never read... Read more
Published on Sept. 30 2009 by Andrea
1.0 out of 5 stars Sucks!
I wanted to read this book for years. I'd heard it was so great. It's a classic. I finally picked it up with great anticipation of a wonderful read. IT SUCKED! Read more
Published on Dec 12 2007 by Bookworm
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsory reading!!!
Anna Karenina was compulsory for one of my University classes, and I want to deeply thank the professor that made me read this classic love tale. Read more
Published on April 12 2007 by Valerie Crepeau
5.0 out of 5 stars Anna, sweet Anna
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." That line opens and sets the tone of "Anna Karenina," a tangled and tragic tale of nineteenth... Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2007 by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
If this is not thre greatest novel ever written, it's certainly in the top 10. Tolstoy addresses a multitude of themes in Anna Karenina: infidelity, faith in God, love, politics,... Read more
Published on July 18 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Ending is worth the read
I must admit there were times during my reading of this that I wanted to quit. There were a LOT of discussions of Russian politics and farming practices that, to me, were... Read more
Published on July 17 2004 by T. Nociti
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Novel Ever Written
I read this book in 1993, and I still remember the experience. It was been called the greatest novel ever written and I agree. Read more
Published on July 5 2004
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