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Anna Karenina [Hardcover]

Leo Tolstoy
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 28 1992 0679410007 978-0679410003

A famous legend surrounding the creation of Anna Karenina tells us that Tolstoy began writing a cautionary tale about adultery and ended up falling in love with his magnificent heroine. It is rare to find a reader of the book who doesn’t experience the same kind of emotional upheaval. Anna Karenina is filled with major and minor characters who exist in their own right and fully embody their mid-nineteenth-century Russian milieu, but it still belongs entirely to the woman whose name it bears, whose portrait is one of the truest ever made by a writer. Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.

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“In a novel as good and as spacious as Tolstoy’s all things are possible. It must contain, as it does, the muddle and unpredictability of life, its refusal to supply endings or neat situations. And indeed this is where the greatness of the novel will be found to lie. Of all authors Tolstoy is the one whose art most contradicts his own views, and yet the one whose true personality is most revealed in his art. And what is Anna’s 'true personality'? It remains to the end not an enigma, but a factor and a phenomenon that is infinitely variable, like life itself.”
–from the Introduction by John Bayley

From the Back Cover

"One of the greatest love stories in world literature."
--Vladimir Nabokov

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anna's tale Jan. 12 2008
"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 century Russia. Tolstoy's story of lovers and family is interlaced with razor-sharp social commentary and odd moments that are almost transcendent. In other words, this is a masterpiece.

When Stepan Oblonsky has an affair with the governess, his wife says that she's leaving him, and now the family is about to disintegrate. Stepan's sister Anna arrives to smooth over their marital problems, and consoles his wife Dolly until she agrees to stay. But on the train there, she met the outspoken Countess Vronsky, and the countess's dashing son, who is semi-engaged to Dolly's sister Kitty.

Anna and Vronsky start to fall in love -- despite the fact that Anna has been married for ten years, to a wealthy husband she doesn't care about, and has a young son. Even so, Anna rejects her loveless marriage and becomes the center of scandal and public hypocrisy, and even becomes pregnany by Vronsky. As she prepares to jump ship and get a divorce, Anna becomes a victim of her own passions...

That isn't the entire story, actually -- Tolstoy weaves in other plots, about disintegrating families, new marriages, and the melancholy Levin's constant search for God, truth, and goodness. Despite the grim storyline about adultery, and the social commentary, there's an almost transcendent quality to some of Tolstoy's writing. It's the most optimistic tragic book I've ever read.

For some reason, Tolstoy called this his "first novel," even though he had already written some before that. Perhaps it's because "Anna Karenina" tackles so many questions and themes, and does so without ever dropping the ball.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, poor translation Jan. 11 2000
By A Customer
Let me start by saying I had to give this book only three stars because of the translation. This is a wonderful novel, but do not buy this translation. I'm an editor, and I just can't stand this version -- I started reading it and had to order another version because there were too many errors in this one. For example, when marking footnotes, the first couple of times they had the symbols match (by the text and at the bottom of the page), and then partway through the book there were numbers in the text and symbols on the bottom of the page -- one time, the footnotes at the bottom of the page were reversed, so that what you thought was the correct footnote made no sense; you had to reverse them. And once I discovered the number "317" just placed at the end of a sentence for no reason that I could fathom. Maybe it's the editor in me, but this translation detracted so much from this novel that it was hard to see through it and concentrate on the wonderful writing of Tolstoy. It's a wonderful novel IF you find a better translation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 19th-century literature..... June 3 2004
By nto62
Didactic, comprehensive, tragic, and challenging, Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is immutably powerful 150 years after it's original telling. A searing juxtaposition of Constantine Levin, a confused, cautious, and questioning man and the impulsive, emotive Anna Karenina, Tolstoy's masterpiece gives reason to long reflect on the net results of adultery. Levin, a man of simple tastes and patient plodding, ultimately achieves love, family, and inner-peace while the cosmopolitan Anna, in her haste for self-gratification, throws it all away.
Amidst the often supercilious affectations of Russian nobility in Petersburg and Moscow, Tolstoy's refutation of the timeless notion of "greener pastures" plays out with striking effect. Of course, the impact of any 19th-century literature is directly proportional to one's predilections. However, Anna Karenina will engross, may even occasionally bore, but will never be less than a lesson well taught for those of the mind for reflection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific book! July 7 2003
By A Customer
This is one of my favorite books of all time! Though Anna Karenina is not necessarily an easy or quick read, you will thank yourself for persevering and reading this book. Tolstoi has an amazing way with characterization and descriptive narrative. He managed to find just the right words or phrase something in just such a way as to evoke real feeling from the reader; you can truly identify with the character/situation at those moments and appreciate the literary beauty of this novel throughout. Happy reading!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great novel!! Dec 31 2006
The central love story between Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky is compelling and tragic. Anna and the Count have an affair, causing much talk in society. Due to the double standards of the time, while Vronsky may still hold his head high in society, Anna is forced to stay inside and hide her shame.

Anna turns to Vronsky─a dashing military man─as a refuge from her passionless marriage to a pompous, despotic bureaucrat--a move that results not only in the loss of her position in the world, but also in total social ostracism. A situation that fills her with self-doubt, and which ends up destroying her confidence.

A parallel plot follows the contrasting fortunes of Levin (Tolstoy's alter ego, with his deep love of the land) and Kitty, whose marriage thrives and prospers because of mutual commitment, sympathy, and respect. In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy reaches deep into his own experiences and his observations of family and friends to create a picture of Russian society that reaches from the high life in St. Petersburg and Moscow to the idyllic rural existence of Kitty and Levin.

Tolstoy shows Anna Karenina as a young woman who finds herself in a loveless and hopeless marriage. But this fact might not have seemed so intolerable had she not met and fallen in love with Count Vronsky. But she did and the affair commenced. In contrast to Anna's tragic affair, we hear about the relationship between Kitty and Levin, a conjugal, idealized love match. Levin is first rejected by Kitty because she has her heart set on Count Vronsky whose affections are already taken by Anna Karenina. Brokenhearted, Kitty eventually turns back to Levin for love and marriage.

In the character of Anna, Tolstoy creates a woman fated for tragedy.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't have been more perfect!
The book was in perfect condition, such a lovely edition! One of the best quality books I have ever purchased. Received product within 2 days!
Published 4 months ago by Alexa Nicoll
5.0 out of 5 stars Who doesn't love Tolstoy
Everyone should own a copy! Tolstoy is a great writer and this book should be treated like a bible! Great christmas gift too
Published 22 months ago by V
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
Although I am rereading Anna Karenina, I do so from time to time as it is one of my faves. This book by Leo Tolstoy is particularly interesting since it mirrors his own life (he... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Susi
5.0 out of 5 stars Anna Karenina
I loved how the writer tells the story in different perspectives through each charater. It is written as if you can feel what each of the characters feel and you know them inside... Read more
Published on Dec 6 2010 by Victoria
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, bad translation
Despite some boring points during the book, like Vronskiy's horse race, Levin going hunting with his friends or threshing with his estate's peasants, the chapters where the male... Read more
Published on July 13 2004 by Anyechka
4.0 out of 5 stars If you want to think about what love is
The novel is about forbidden love. For a women this love becomes a "need to be loved" while for a man "searching for one worth it". Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2003 by N. Delen
5.0 out of 5 stars Tolstoy's vision of utopia
Leo Tolstoy truly was one of the greatest social critics of his time and his influence easily rivalled that of Tsar Nicholas II and the Russian Orthodox Church. Read more
Published on May 7 2003 by Ray Farmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy Classic
The story takes place in a time and place far away, but neither the style, nor the history are hard to follow. That's what makes this Tolstoy marterpiece timeless. Read more
Published on June 20 2002 by Huszar
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Novel Ever Written
There are many different kinds of writers but few (if any) possess the wide range of skills of Leo Tolstoy. Read more
Published on March 10 2002 by Bruddy Dahl
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