Anna Karenina (Oxford World's Classics Series)

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One of the greatest novels ever written, Anna Karenina sets the impossible and destructive triangle of Anna, her husband Karenin, and her lover Vronsky against the marriage of Levin and Kitty, thus illuminating the most important questions that face humanity. This edition uses the acclaimed Louise and Alymer Maude translation, and offers a new introduction and notes which provide completely up-to-date perspectives on Tolstoy's classic work.

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Anna Karenina

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Overview

One of the greatest novels ever written, Anna Karenina sets the impossible and destructive triangle of Anna, her husband Karenin, and her lover Vronsky against the marriage of Levin and Kitty, thus illuminating the most important questions that face humanity. This edition uses the acclaimed Louise and Alymer Maude translation, and offers a new introduction and notes which provide completely up-to-date perspectives on Tolstoy's classic work.

About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780192823656
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/23/1995
  • Series: Oxford World's Classics Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 831
  • Product dimensions: 4.63 (w) x 7.31 (h) x 1.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Leo Tolstoy

W. Gareth Jones is Professor of Russian at the School of Modern Languages, University College of North Wales.

Biography

Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on the family estate of Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, where he spent most of his early years, together with his several brothers. In 1844 he entered the University of Kazan to read Oriental Languages and later Law, but left before completing a degree. He spent the following years in a round of drinking, gambling and womanizing, until weary of his idle existence he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus in 1851.

He took part in the Crimean war and after the defence of Sevastopol wrote The Sevastopol Sketches (1855-6), which established his literary reputation. After leaving the army in 1856 Tolstoy spent some time mixing with the literati in St Petersburg before traveling abroad and then settling at Yasnaya Polyana, where he involved himself in the running of peasant schools and the emancipation of the serfs. His marriage to Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862 marked the beginning of a period of contentment centred around family life; they had thirteen children. Tolstoy managed his vast estates, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote both his great novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).

During the 1870s he underwent a spiritual crisis, the moral and religious ideas that had always dogged him coming to the fore. A Confession (1879–82) marked an outward change in his life and works; he became an extreme rationalist and moralist, and in a series of pamphlets written after 1880 he rejected church and state, indicted the demands of flesh, and denounced private property. His teachings earned him numerous followers in Russia and abroad, and also led finally to his excommunication by the Russian Holy Synod in 1901. In 1910 at the age of eighty-two he fled from home "leaving this worldly life in order to live out my last days in peace and solitude;" he died some days later at the station master's house at Astapovo.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Books LTD.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 9, 1828
    2. Place of Birth:
      Tula Province, Russia
    1. Date of Death:
      November 20, 1910
    2. Place of Death:
      Astapovo, Russia

Reading Group Guide

1. When Anna Karenina was published, critics accused Tolstoy of writing a novel with too many characters, too complex a story line, and too many details. Henry James called Tolstoy's works "baggy monsters." In response, Tolstoy wrote of Anna Karenina "I am very proud of its architecture-its vaults are joined so that one cannot even notice where the keystone is." What do you make of Tolstoy's use of detail? Does it make for a more "realistic" novel?

2. The first line of Anna Karenina, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," can be interpreted a number of ways. What do you think Tolstoy means by this?

3. In your opinion, how well does Tolstoy, as a male writer, capture the perspectives of his female characters? Do you think Anna Karenina is the most appropriate title for the book? Is Tolstoy more critical of Anna for her adultery than he is of Oblonsky or of Vronsky?

4. What role does religion play in the novel? Compare Levin's spiritual state of mind at the beginning and the end of the novel. What parallels can you draw between Levin's search for happiness and Anna's descent into despair?

5. Why is it significant that Karenina lives in St. Petersburg, Oblonsky in Moscow, and Levin in the country? How are Moscow and St. Petersburg described by Tolstoy? What conclusions can you draw about the value assigned to place in the novel?

6. What are the different kinds of love that Anna, Vronsky, Levin, Kitty, Stiva, and Dolly seek? How do their desires change throughout the novel?

7. How do the ideals of love and marriage come into conflict in Anna Karenina? Using examples from the novel, what qualities do you think seem to make for a successful marriage? According to Tolstoy, is it more important to find love at all costs or to uphold the sanctity of marriage, even if it is a loveless one?

8. Ultimately, do you think Anna Karenina is a tragic novel or a hopeful one?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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(10)

4 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 7, 2012

    Excellent Novel!

    My brother and I do a book club each winter together and choose a piece of literature that neither of us has read before. This year we chose Anna Karenina. This story is so good - and the translation did it justice. Anna Karenina is an excellent story for book clubs - there's so much to discuss in it and so much more relevant to current society than I expected. I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 only because there weren't any questions at the end to guide discussion. My brother and I had to find those online. Of course, there are lots of places to find questions but it would have been helpful if some were included. I was attempting to read the story without knowing the end and many of the discussion questions online gave a quick synopsis that gave away a key piece of the ending of the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2002

    great translation

    wonderful translation of the classic!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2002

    Don't consider it - just read it!

    Fantastic! I couldn't stop. It is so full of life: reality and fantasy. It makes you feel as if you are in the book. Tolstoy has mastered the art of being an author. Although some bits seem boring, continue and you will be a lot better off than when you started. By the way, I have seen many translations and I think Louise and Aylmer Maude have the most 'Russian' version. Rosemary Edmonds writes a fairly clever, detailed version, and Constance Garnett writes a clear, easier to understand but old-fashioned version. The book is better than the movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2002

    Tragic

    I have read Anna Keranina all the way through, finally. It was a very long book but I have to say that it was well worth my time. It was a story about the tragic romance of Anna Keranina and also the story of Levin's love of Kitty and their happy marriage. Both plots intertwined into a brilliant play of love and the tragedy of Anna Keranina, a beautiful woman doomed to a tragic end for loving and acting on the love she had for a man that was not her husband.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2001

    Wonderful Anna

    Anna Karenina is by far the best book I've read. It was required reading for my Russian Novel class and at first I was intimidated by it's length, but once I started it I couldn't put it down!! I highly recommend reading this book!!

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