Anna Karenina (Rosemary Edmonds Translation)

Overview

With Anna Karenin, the psychological novel of the nineteenth century reached its peak.

Acclaimed by many as the world's greatest novel, Anna Karenin provides a vast panorama of contemporary life in Russia and of humanity in general. In it Tolstoy uses his intense imaginative insight to create some of the most memorable characters in literature. Anna is a sophisticated woman who abandons her empty existence as the wife of Karenin and turns to Count Vronsky to fulfill her ...

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Overview

With Anna Karenin, the psychological novel of the nineteenth century reached its peak.

Acclaimed by many as the world's greatest novel, Anna Karenin provides a vast panorama of contemporary life in Russia and of humanity in general. In it Tolstoy uses his intense imaginative insight to create some of the most memorable characters in literature. Anna is a sophisticated woman who abandons her empty existence as the wife of Karenin and turns to Count Vronsky to fulfill her passionate nature—with tragic consequences. Levin is a reflection of Tolstoy himself, often expressing the author's own views and convictions.

Throughout, Tolstoy points no moral, merely inviting us not to judge but to watch. As Rosemary Edmonds comments: "He leaves the shifting patterns of the kaleidoscope to bring home the meaning of the brooding words following the title: 'Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.'"

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140267433
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/3/1997
  • Series: World Classics Literature Series
  • Pages: 864
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910), was a Russian writer many consider to have been one of the world's greatest novelists. His literary masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina represent, in their scope, breadth and vivid depiction of 19th-century Russian life and attitudes, the peak of realist fiction.

Tolstoy's further talents as essayist, dramatist, and educational reformer made him the most influential member of the aristocratic Tolstoy family. His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and anarcho-pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. - from Wikipedia

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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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2004

    Powerful

    My father has been praising the works of Tolstoy since I can remember. Now that I have actually read Anna Karenina (wow that really feels good to say) I can actually agree with him. Anna Karenina is the story of two people, Anna and Levin. Anna looks for love in another man, and Levin wants love with one girl and one girl only. Tolstoy uses detail to make these characters come to life. Everything, from the cough of an infant to the way a dress glides on the dance floor, is significant to the story. The last scene of Part Seven is considered by most to be the best thing to come out of Anna Karenina, and the best scene in all of Russian Literature. To me it is the best scene in all of literature. If you are willing to dedicate yourself to this novel, you will come out of it as a better person than you went in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2009

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