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Anna Karenina Paperback – May 31, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

Some people say Anna Karenina is the single greatest novel ever written, which makes about as much sense to me as trying to determine the world's greatest color. But there is no doubt that Anna Karenina, generally considered Tolstoy's best book, is definitely one ripping great read. Anna, miserable in her loveless marriage, does the barely thinkable and succumbs to her desires for the dashing Vronsky. I don't want to give away the ending, but I will say that 19th-century Russia doesn't take well to that sort of thing.

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.

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have produced acclaimed translations of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gogol, and Bulgakov. Their translation of The Brothers Karamazov won the 1991 PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize. They are married and live in Paris, France.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143035002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143035008
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (416 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

221 of 244 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this book in 1993, and I still remember the experience. It has been called the greatest novel ever written and I agree.

It is a very long book: I read a few chapters a day over a long period of time. Over time the feeling developed that the characters, and Tolstoy himself (in Levin), were people I knew -- people with whom I spent some time each day. The philosophy was mind-expanding; I'm sure my views were affected.
For me, the important thing in reading this book was not to try to "get through" it, but to "visit" it as I would visit congenial neighbors. When I finished, I felt loneliness over loss of contact with the characters.
I'm going to read it again some day.
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259 of 288 people found the following review helpful By B. Alcat on June 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Anna Karenina" (1873-7) is a book that could be compared to a beautiful mosaic of interlinked stories. Thanks to Tolstoy's book, we get to know characters who sometimes seem so real that we cannot help but living with them the series of events that are recounted in this book.
Who are the main characters?. Well, we might begin by telling something about Anna Karenina, the woman who gives this book its title. Anna is someone who has found some satisfaction in a marriage to a husband she doesn't love. Her life isn't exciting, but she is comfortable, and has a son that means everything to her. Her world will be shaken when a nobleman, Count Vronsky, falls in love with her. He pursuits Anna until he convinces her to become his lover, indulging in an adulterous affair. But... will he go on loving her, even after she risks all for him?. And did she do the right thing, by following her heart without thinking about the consequences of her actions?.
There are many more characters, but I would like to highlight one of them: Levin. Levin is a rather eccentric gentleman farmer, who worries about things like the meaning of life, and allows the reader to share with him the kind of doubts that many have had, but few voice. He ends up finding happiness, but his path is not easy, especially because he is prone to reflect on issues that cause him anguish. His story is linked at the beginning of the book to that of Anna and Vronsky because the woman he loves, Kitty Shcherbatskaya, thinks she loves Vronsky. However, as the story advances, you will probably end up comparing Anna and Vronsky's relationship to that of Kitty and Levin. One is all drama, and passion; the other, calm and contentment. Which one is better?. And according to whom?.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Anne Rice on June 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
One of the greatest novels of all time. Once you read it straight through and experience its immensity and depth, you can keep it around and dip into it when you need to be reminded that a work of art -- novel, play, film, what have you -- can give you not only continued enjoyment but profound truths. Tolstoy is one of the few writers I've ever read -- indeed possibly the only writer I've ever read -- who really treats men and women equally. Now in later life he wrote many provocative things about gender, but at the time he wrote Anna Karenina, he saw the soul inside a human with unlimited generosity. Note his loving attention to the emotions and suffering of the young adolescent Kitty Scherbatsky who becomes in fact a heroine of the work, and how he takes her every bit as seriously as he takes any male character in the book. If you go on to War and Peace, you'll find the same inquiry into the depths of the soul in total resregard of masculine/feminine identity. It has been said that Tolstoy raised the novel to the level of Greek or Shakespearean tragedy. I believe that he did. I believe he did because, being Russian, receiving the novel as something of an imported form from England and/or France, he did not have any prejudice towards it as some sort of "domestic" or "popular" form. In other words, no one told him the novel couldn't be great. And he made it great. Read this book, even if you have to carry it around with you for a while. I recommend the old translation by Constance Garnett, but there are other ones.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Patrick W. Crabtree VINE VOICE on June 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is world-class literature and a story, albeit an older one, which teaches us much about life. I would HIGHLY recommend this book as a gift to any young adult. Yes, it is lengthy but here Tolstoy has yielded us one of the finest tales ever written.

Anna Karenina is pure female Homo sapiens. She is both good and bad (it's not really a spoiler to note that she falls prey to drugs -- morphine), but most of all, human. When I first began reading this terrific story I anticipated that I would eventually be disappointed by having guessed at what was about to happen -- I BELIEVED that Tolstoy was going to tell me about a sweet girl whom was about to have bad things happen to her and, thus, the great author was going to barter for my sympathies for her. Well no such thing! Instead, Anna Karenina could well be living in the 21st Century given her impulsive proclivities and leading a lifestyle which attends little on injurious consequences, (which we seem to see a lot of these days!). Sometimes I admired her and sometimes I wanted to strangle her, but as I read on I could not see where Tolstoy was really heading with her until the very end.

THE STORY: Anna Karenina falls in love with a dashing, handsome, young Russian military officer -- the problem is that she's married to a stogy (rich and influential) old nobleman and the two have a young son. This old curmudgeon (sometimes a wimpy fool and sometimes an aggressive scoundrel) clings to very religious and moralistic ethics and as Anna's affair evolves, the old man is launched into a distasteful and unpleasant roller coaster ride of emotion.

There are a number of great sub-plots but the chief one concerns a young landowner, the reformist Levin, who is passionate about two things: 1.
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