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Anna Karenina (Signet Classics edition) [Mass Market Paperback]

Leo Tolstoy , Priscilla Meyer , David Magarshack
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 2 2010 Signet Classics
The sensual, rebellious Anna renounces a respectable yet stifling marriage for an affair that offers passion even as it ensnares her for destruction. Her story contrasts with that of Levin, a young, self- doubting agnostic who takes a different path to fulfillment.


@DoTheLocomotion Some gentleman danced with me the whole night. We got a little grinding on, but not too much. This is formal Russian society, mind you.

Apparently by dancing with Vronsky I pussy-blocked a girl called Kitty. I suppose that’s ironic. You’d think with a name like that…

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About the Author

Count Leo Tolstoy was born on September 9, 1828, in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia. Orphaned at nine, he was brought up by an elderly aunt and educated by French tutors until he matriculated at Kazan University in 1844. In 1847, he gave up his studies and, after several aimless years, volunteered for military duty in the army, serving as a junior officer in the Crimean War before retiring in 1857. In 1862, Tolstoy married Sophie Behrs, a marriage that was to become, for him, bitterly unhappy. His diary, started in 1847, was used for self-study and self-criticism; it served as the source from which he drew much of the material that appeared not only in his great novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), but also in his shorter works. Seeking religious justification for his life, Tolstoy evolved a new Christianity based upon his own interpretation of the Gospels. Yasnaya Polyana became a mecca for his many converts At the age of eighty-two, while away from home, the writer suffered a break down in his health in Astapovo, Riazan, and he died there on November 20, 1910.

David Magarshack was known for his many translations from his native Russian, including works by Dostoyevsky.


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All happy families are like one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars I'm glad tolstoy isn't my next door neighbor. April 11 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This 80000000000000000000 page "book" isn't just boring and depressing, it's frighteningly so. Tolstoy wasn't just writing a boring book, he was trying to convince us that life is boring and dull. He deliberably avoids any sort of plot developement that might spark the slightest shread of joy, excitement, or even mild interest (One might point out Anna's collision with the train, but I did not find this interesting. It was malevolent, sad, and in the context of the rest of the book, spooky in an ill-defined sort of way, but it was not interesting.) He has here milked life of all it's flavor and left us a soggy tale to digest. It's no wonder that Levin finds himself retiring into morbid preoccupations with his own death, feeling himself unable to enjoy anything in his life. This whole novel seems to have been generated in such a pessimistic mood. In the preface to my edition (which gives an account of the history of Tolstoy's progress on the novel, and amazingly manages to surpass the novel's dullness with its rediculous redundancies about the dates of Leo's stops and starts on the novel.) Tolstoy is quoted, "if only someone would finish Anna Karenina for me." The writer himself was bored with this pulseless corpse of a book. No one does anything in this book, and barely anything happens. Levin spends a whole constipated summer with Kitty living down the road from him, and aside from accidentally passing her carriage on the road one morning, absolutely NOTHING becomes of this. Characters have to be sent out into the woods to shoot at birds for lack of anything better to do. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars "what can you name that's superior?" Feb. 28 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
For the longest time I have been reticent to write a review of Anna for fear of not being able to do the book justice. I still have that fear, but the time has come to at least say that this is my favorite novel of all time. I refer to the Magarshack translation which I have read and now re-read. I can't imagine a more intriguing story... admittedly however, it would help if the reader had an interest in the world that Tolstoy inhabited. There are so many (often lengthy) asides into his thoughts on abstention from worldly riches / social reconstruction etc. Tolstoy gets his character Levin to do reams of his own preaching on these subjects but again, because I find Tolstoy himself to be one of the most interesting characters Russia has ever produced, I don't mind finding him so obviously entrenched in his own story here.
But "Anna" is first and foremost a LOVE story which depicts the fleeting and disastrous effects of tempestous/undisciplined love (Anna and Vronsky) over against the lasting and mutually beneficial results of patient/disciplined love (Levin and Kitty). This book is an important masterpiece without rival in literature. Reading such a book on one's death-bed would not be a waste of time.
When I think of Anna, I am reminded of something that Solzhenitsyn made one of his fictional characters say in his book The First Circle: "In the 17th century there was Rembrandt, and there is Rembrandt today. Just try to improve on him. And yet the technology of the 17th century now seems primitive to us. Or take the technological innovations of the 1870's. For us they're child's play. But that was when Anna Karenina was written. What can you name that's superior?"
Read Anna... and you will be as silent as I am on that one!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Two stories for the price of one! Jan. 28 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There are two stories in this novel, which are connected at the beginning but become pretty much completely separate in the end. There's the title story of Anna, who runs off with a good-looking army officer leaving behind her stolid politician husband and young son. Then there's the highly autobiographical story of the quiet, unconfident Levin, who's quite happy to live a peaceful life in the countryside (and gets regarded as a fool as a result), except when he ventures into society (quote unquote) to try and woo the woman he loves, who sadly has eyes only for the man Anna fixes her attention on.
I have to confess that I found Levin's story a lot more interesting than Anna's. I sympathised a lot with his lack of confidence and search for purpose in life, and ended up rushing the bits about Anna to read about him.
However, both are well-excecuted, Tolstoy's piercing insights into human nature creeping in. Levin's behaviour in particular was eminently understandable and recognisable.
I have a hard time deciding whether I enjoyed War and Peace or this more - certainly the character of Levin surpasses the ones in War and Peace. Read them both, that's my advice.
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By lazza
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I took up Anna Karenina thinking that it would be an epic saga concerning a woman victimized by a male-dominated, 19th century Russian society. In fact the novel Anna Karenina is only partly about the title character; a majority of the book is about the travails of her relatives, especially a thinly-disguised Leo Tolstoy going under the name of Constantine Levin.
While Anna Karenina is indeed beautifully written, especially remarkable considering I read an English translation, and it does transport the reader back in time to another part of the world. But the book falls far short of perfection because of its rather unlikeable (!) main character (..Anna Karenina was more a victim of her selfishness and neurotic behaviour than a victim to her husband and a sexist 19th century Russia), and due to overly-deep (read: boring) Levin character who thinks that it's better to be a uneducated peasant than a rich man (..as if!).
While not wanting to criticize Anna Karenina too much, I have to add that I was disappointed in Tolstoy's "rose-colored" view of peasants. There is almost no depiction of the squalor and disease which obviously tormented the Russian working class. Dostoyevsky, in Crime and Punishment (for example), certainly handled this area much more realistically (..almost to a fault).
So while Anna Karenina is brilliant effort to a certain extent I cannot think of it as a masterpiece. And since it is overly long and contains too much pie-in-the-sky socio-economic commentary by the Levin character (aka Tolstoy) I really can't recommend reading it. Certainly if you are looking for a romance novel where a Garbo-esque herione will bring tears to your eyes I suggest avoiding Anna Karenina at all costs.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and 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 March 22 2007 by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars Ayn Rand's opinion
Why does Ayn Rand say that "this is the most evil book in all of serious liturature"?
Published on June 20 2004 by Suenote
4.0 out of 5 stars Anna Karenina
This is a rather daunting undertaking, but so worth it in the end. The book is incredibly long and detailed. But it is also engaging, heart-wrenching and realistic. Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2003 by Alicia Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Tolstoy Translation
Going through the particulars in pertinance to Anna Karenina (the story that is) would be somewhat redundant. Read more
Published on June 11 2003 by rocksynthetic
5.0 out of 5 stars An Enlightening Immersion into Everyday Life
Anna Karenina provides well a window into the rich diversity and complexity within human nature. Tolstoy, relentlessly rich in details, paints characters so deep and natural, that... Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2001 by khettrich
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing window into the 19th century
Tolstoy had talent most of us can only dream about. In Anna Karenina he examines the central problem of life through two distinct lenses - Anna, whose discontent is acknowledged... Read more
Published on July 26 2001 by LackOfDiscipline
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece
Before the Russians were allow to read the Bible, they had the authors Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. This book by Tolstoy has all the elements of sin, redemption, sanctification, and... Read more
Published on June 21 2001 by Raji
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful soap opera
This is a delightful soap opera which is as current now as it was when it was written. There's lots of history and lots of description and its fascinating to think that it was... Read more
Published on April 21 2001
1.0 out of 5 stars Tabloid Romance nothing more
We must ask the question is this a novel of greatness or is it just a long Mills and Boon piece of flummery. The answer is in the book is a tabloid love story. Read more
Published on Dec 30 2000 by "the_battlers_prince"
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