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Anna Karenina (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – July 15, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

''Considered one of the pinnacles of world literature.'' --Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature

''Considered one of the pinnacles of world literature.'' --Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 872 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reissue edition (July 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199536066
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199536061
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.5 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By doc peterson VINE VOICE on December 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Tolstoy's classic Anna Karenina is a masterpiece. If I were stranded on a desert isle, this is one of the books I would want with me. The story is essentially about a woman who leaves her husband for another man, only to come to a tragic end. Yet the main character is not really Anna, but Kostya Levin, almost the antithesis of Anna. And it is this polarization of characters that is one of the sublime features of this novel.
The characters themselves are especially an element that engrossed me. While there are a dizzying number of personalities, each lives "outside" of the story as well as within it - that is to say, even the most minor of characters seems to have a life of their own, only dropping in the story to play a small part before going on about their business. Each character has depth - they are much more than characitures of "good" and "evi", showing their humanity in their follies and in their decisions - for both good and evil.
Tolstoy has an alternative motive in Anna Karenina, though. The story has a barely perceptable religious tone to it, Tolstoy makes a moral statement about how life should be lived, and what a person's role in life should be in order to be "truly happy". This is the result of an epiphany that Tolstoy experienced while writing the novel - an event that changed his life and eventually estranged him from many of his children.
The only problem I foresee readers having is keeping characters straight (as this translation uses names as well as patronymics - meaning "the son / daughter of" as in Stepan Arkadyvitch: Stepan, son of Arkady). Individuals are referred to by name, patronymic or sometimes nickname (Kostya for Konstantin for example.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Everyman's Library edition of Anna Karenina is the Maude translation, not the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation praised by so many readers. That translation is available in a Penguin paperback and an out-of-print Viking hardcover edition. Amazon erred in displaying the readers' reviews of the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation under the description of the Everyman's Library book.
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Format: Paperback
This is absolutely one of the most perfect novels in existence. And if you're going to read it, I would strongly recommend getting this version (the Norton critical edition). When characters speak to each other in French (to show their aristocratic rank), this edition provides a translation. It also includes MANY MANY helpful footnotes on culture traditions of the time, which are essential for anyone not familiar with Russian culture if they want to have a full understanding of the book. This version also points out places where Tolstoy used Russian words to create a pun--and this is helpful, because obviously all the puns were lost in translation. So read this book! And unless you're going to get a translation in Russian, get this one. It will be the most helpful to getting a good grip on this brilliant novel.
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Format: Paperback
I bought the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation when everyone went crazy for it, but I have to say that THIS translation makes Anna Karenina immediate and timeless to me. There's a distancing, objective tone to the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation that I don't care for. I'm glad, for their sake, that readers like it so much, but THIS is the translation I turn to.
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Format: Paperback
This review is for the Wordsworth Classics edition, translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude (there seems to be some confusion as reviews of different editions are appearing under the same listing). This is the only version I've read so far. To enter into the sometimes controversial "Great Books" issue, I think it's good to read books that rank highly on these lists no matter how you feel about such systems of classification. That way, you can form your own opinions about what constitutes greatness and also perhaps learn how greatness is defined culturally. As I see it, most "Great Books" really are great; yet there is also a certain element of arbitrariness that places some books and novelists on the literary Mount Olympus. Tolstoy, along with a very few others such as Shakespeare, is often placed at the very top of such lists. While I don't worship Tolstoy (or Shakespeare for that matter), and have reservations about this whole Great Books mindset, this doesn't mean I can't appreciate a book like Anna Karenina as a "merely" great novel.

Anna Karenina can be seen as a study of 19th Century Russian society. In this way, it is comparable to some of Jane Austen's work, as well as The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton. Tolstoy, however, goes deeper than merely reflecting social mores and their often tragic consequences. There are some truly profound passages in Anna Karenina that explore the fundamental questions of life. Many characters -- Levin, Vronsky, Anna and even Anna's apparently superficial husband Karenin, fall into what might be called existentialist crises. Levin in particular is constantly struggling with the issue of materialism vs. religious faith. The black despair Anna experiences late in the novel is beautifully and tragically described.
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