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Anna Karenina (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – October 10, 2000
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One thing that really amazed me was how well Tolstoy could switch between different characters and settings. Everyone had distinct personalities and the way they were all portrayed was with so much compassion and understanding that as a reader I could really see parts of myself in everyone. There was no one character that I related to more than any other. I was able to relate to every single one of them differently. I believe this is the reason Tolstoy is considered a master.
The pace of the book is a little slow for me because I'm a slow reader, but in retrospect I feel like the pace was actually pretty good and it only felt slow because I had absolutely no idea where the story was going. Every chapter had something new happening and the story just strolled right along. Probably like riding a tractor for 50 miles. You've got plenty of time to look at all the flowers and clouds and barns and animals along the way, it takes forever, but it never stops moving.
It helped a lot to have this book on my kindle because towards the end there was more and more french that was easy to translate with the kindle. The port to the kindle was perfect. I saw no strange spacing or oddly misspelled words.
Overall I recommend giving this book a shot. Don't be discouraged by the length. I realize a reader may feel compelled to read this particular book just so they can say that they did. It's got that trophy book status. I feel like that's a bad thing though. If you find yourself a few hundred pages in and are interested in what's going on, then keep going. If however after a few hundred pages you feel like it's a chore to read, then don't bother, it's not going to suddenly become more interesting after any point in the book. It's very consistent, you can trust this author and the translation, the ending won't let you down, there will be no long lulls. What you get in the beginning is what you get through the entire book, it's very steady and very high quality writing.
If you looking for a thrilling story line with lots of twists and unexpected turns, this is probably not the book for you. I mean it's an interesting enough story, but it's involves things that happen all the time to ordinary people. What's so enjoyable is the way he DESCRIBES what's going on in each scene, each conversation, the thoughts and emotions of the characters as they deal with whatever unfolds in their lives. Especially I like he way he jumps around in his descriptions, what's going through her mind, what she says, what's her body language, what he sees, what he thinks, how it affects him, descriptions of the little physical clues to their feelings. He's moving around from character to character, from dialogue to thoughts to physical descriptions, and as you read, all of a sudden YOU'RE THERE! Actually you're more than there, because you see it from many different perspectives, and you just know exactly what they're feeling, thinking. It's really breathtaking is the best way to describe it as he's moving you around the scene seeing both the surface and deep into the character's thoughts and feelings. He even gets into the mind of the damn hunting dog, and after I got done rolling on the floor with laughter I got up and said "YES, YES, that's exactly how they think!"
This was my first Russian novel (other that something on Crime and Punishment years ago that I never finished and can't really recall) but it won't be my last, I'll read this again at least once, then will explore whatever else is out there. In fact the only down side to reading this book is that it may have ruined me for less compelling writers. Charles Dickens has always been one of my favorite writers, but I can't seem to get through David Copperfield all of a sudden...maybe happy people ARE all pretty much the same.
I wish I could read Russian, somehow the text in English can become dry at times.
Also, there were a few chapters that I couldn't find interesting, like the one on the methods of agriculture.
I wasn't a huge fan of Anna's character. She's too self-involved, erratic and emotionally distraught. Her final ramblings with herself were exhausting!
I think Tolstoy should've named the book after Konstantin Dmitrich Levin. I thought the storyline mainly evolved around him. I do admit however that his name doesn't make a good title for a best seller.
Overall, I enjoyed the humanism in each character, their triumphs and tragedies. Tolstoy is brilliant in writing up these characters that we can learn from centuries later.
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