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Anna Karenina, in English translation
     

Anna Karenina, in English translation

3.7 468
by Leo Tolstoy
 

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Anna Karenina (1877) by Leo Tolstoy is a classic story of love and tragedy against the backdrop of pre-revolutionary Russia. The extravagant and dramatic story of Anna Karenina who risks everything for passion is intertwined with the quiet story of Levin (an autobiographical character) and his own quest for true love and personal fulfillment.

This psychological

Overview

Anna Karenina (1877) by Leo Tolstoy is a classic story of love and tragedy against the backdrop of pre-revolutionary Russia. The extravagant and dramatic story of Anna Karenina who risks everything for passion is intertwined with the quiet story of Levin (an autobiographical character) and his own quest for true love and personal fulfillment.

This psychological masterpiece is considered to be one of the greatest novels of world literature.

Editorial Reviews

Criticas

Originally written in 1875, this is one of the most distinguished classic works of world literature. Several films, dramas, and ballets have been based on Tolstoi’s (as spelled in Spanish) intense, passionate love story. Ana, one of the most notable literary characters ever created, is married to a Russian minister but falls in love with Count Vronski, a rich and handsome young army officer. Against society’s norms, she abandons her husband and son, with dire results. In this excellent recording, the story is fully dramatized by a group of actors: Milagros del Valle is Ana, and FonoLibro’s Arquimedes Rivero is Vronski. Their voices are appropriate and devoid of regional accents. With background music and narration that shows the full emotional style of a radionovela (radio soap operas), this audio is an easy way to get to know this perennial classic. Recommended for bookstores and public libraries.—Dolores M. Koch, New York City


—Dolores M. Koch

Product Details

BN ID:
2940000745557
Publisher:
B&R Samizdat Express
Publication date:
09/01/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
525,437
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Since Anna Kareninawas published in 1877, almost everyone who matters in the history of literature has put in his two cents (and a few who stand out in other realms—from Matthew Arnold, who wrote a cogent essay in 1887 about "Count Tolstoy's" novel, to Lenin, who, while acknowledging his "first class works of world literature," refers to him as "a worn out sniveller who beat his breast and boasted to the world that he now lived on rice patties").

Dostoyevsky, a contemporary, declared Anna Karenina perfect "as an artistic production." Proust calls Tolstoy "a serene god." Comparing his work to that of Balzac, he said, "In Tolstoi everything is great by nature—the droppings of an elephant beside those of a goat. Those great harvest scenes in Anna K., the hunting scenes, the skating scenes . . ." Flaubert just exclaims, "What an artist and what a psychologist!" Virginia Woolf declares him "greatest of all novelists. . . . He notices the blue or red of a child's frock . . . every twig, every feather sticks to his magnet."

A few cranks, of course, weigh in on the other side. Joseph Conrad wrote a complimentary letter to Constance Garnett's husband and mentioned, "of the thing itself I think but little," a crack Nabokov never forgave him. Turgenev said, "I don't like Anna Karenina, although there are some truly great pages in it (the races, the mowing, the hunting). But it's all sour, it reeks of Moscow, incense, old maids, Slavophilism, the nobility, etc. . . . The second part is trivial and boring." But Turgenev was by then an ex-friend and Tolstoy had once challenged him to a duel.

E. M. Forster said, "Great chords begin to sound, and we cannot say exactly what struck them. They do not arise from the story. . . . They do not come from the episodes nor yet from the characters. They come from the immense area of Russia. . . . Many novelists have the feeling for place . . . very few have the sense of space, and the possession of it ranks high in Tolstoy's divine equipment."

After finishing Anna Karenina, Tolstoy himself said (to himself, in his journal), "Very well, you will be more famous than Gogol or Pushkin or Shakespeare or Molière, or than all the writers of the world—and what of it?"

More great essays than I can recount here have been written about the book, especially those by George Steiner, Gary Saul Morson, Eduard Babev, and Raymond Williams.

Tolstoy criticism continues to thrive, and now includes its own home called the Tolstoy Studies Journal. Resorting to any library today, one can page through recent articles with titles like "Tolstoy on the Couch: Misogyny, Masochism, the Absent Mother," by Daniel Rancour-Lafarriere; "Passion in Competition: The Sporting Motif in Anna Karenina," by Howard Schwartz; "Food and the Adulterous Woman: Sexual and Social Morality in Anna Karenina," by Karin Horwatt; and even "Anna Karenina's Peter Pan Syndrome," by Vladimir Goldstein.

What's left, in the year 2000, for me to say?

Once, when I was a girl of eleven or twelve, sprawled on a sofa reading, an adult friend of the family noticed that I went through books quickly and suggested that every time I finished one, I enter the name of the author and title, publisher, the dates during which I read it, and what my impressions were on a three-by-five index card.

That kind of excellent habit is one we can easily imagine cultivated by the young Shcherbatsky princesses, when we first meet them "wrapped in a mysterious poetical veil." Levin wonders from afar, "Why it was the three young ladies had to speak French and English on alternate days; why it was that at certain hours they took turns playing the piano, the sounds of which were audible in their brother's room . . . why they were visited by those professors of French literature, of music, of drawing, of dancing; why at certain hours all three young ladies, and Mademoiselle Linon, drove in the coach to Tverskoy Boulevard, dressed in their satin cloaks, Dolly in a long one, Natalie in a shorter one, and Kitty in one so short that her shapely little legs in tight red stockings were exposed."

Of course, I was an American girl, not a Russian princess, and instead of foreign languages and piano tutors what I had was outside. From dawn to dusk, all summer, we ran to the woods, scavenging lumber, hauling boards, digging holes to build forts that were rarely completed; but we became muddy and tired.
I never followed the family friend's good advice.

Now I wish I had. A reason to keep a reading journal would be to compare the experience of the same book met at different ages. It could provide the deepest kind of diary. Anna Karenina, War and Peace, In Search of Lost Time and Middlemarch hold sway over a reader for weeks, months, a whole summer, and so we tend to remember our lives along with them, the way we would someone we'd roomed with for a period of months and then not seen again. I remember Tolstoy's novels personally—where I was when I first read them, for whom I was pining or from whom I was recovering. (For me, the novels were a bit long to read in the throes.)

Tolstoy himself kept just such a diary, his biographers tell us, a journal of "girls and reading. And remorse." He presented these journals, with all their literary impressions and squalid confessions, to his young fiance, Sofia Behrs, as Levin does to Kitty in Anna Karenina.

In the novel, as in Tolstoy's life, the squalor got all the attention from the young bride to be. But for history, as it might have been for Tolstoy later in his life, his youthful writing about books proves to be not only more important but more personal.

Though I didn't keep a journal of reading, I did keep journals of "feelings," largely of boys whose names the black-bound volumes record. A list of those names no longer conjures the faces or characteristic gestures.

But I remember where I was the first time I read Anna Karenina. I was at Yaddo, a writers' colony in upstate New York, during the high season, and I felt distinctly outside the community's social world. Another young female writer arrived with, it seemed to me, a better wardrobe. I found myself checking what she was wearing at every meal. I hadn't considered that I was visiting a town that for more than 150 years had been a summer "watering hole." A small backpack held all my clothes for the summer. A pretty orchestra conductor with whom I jogged examined a pin-sized stain on my best white blouse. "I wouldn't wear it," she said.

I was twenty-four years old and, I'll admit it, I read the novel to learn about love. I was at the beginning of my life and I'd come from one of the unhappy families Tolstoy mentions. I was, in my own oblique way, writing about that circus in all its distinction. But I wanted my own life to be one of the happy ones and I felt at peace there, in my studio on the second story of an old wooden, formal house. I had the time to lie on my white bed with the pine fronds ticking the window and learn how.

I felt enchanted, as any girl might be, with the balls, the ice-skating parties, most especially with Kitty's European tour to recover from heartbreak. I identified with Anna and with Kitty, never for a second with Varenka, whose position might have actually been closest to my own.

In fact, I was young enough to remember a particular magazine I'd read while in a toy store as a child, no doubt published by the Mattel Corporation, that chronicled a holiday week in the life of a doll called Barbie. Like the characters in Anna Karenina, Barbie also went to an ice-skating party and wore a muff. Barbie also owned formal gowns. Barbie, too, sat to have her portrait painted.

I mention this not to call attention to the rather girlish and unsophisticated imagination I still had but rather to show how far into a child's fantasy Tolstoy ventures before then shocking us by rendering our heroine's aversion to touching her husband. And here I'm not talking only about Anna. He makes mention of Kitty's "revulsion" toward Levin as well.

I read—that first time—for the central characters, to see whom they married; to decide what was dangerous in a man, what fulfilling; what kind of love to hope for, to fear.

I didn't like Vronsky. Or I did, but I was afraid of him. Vronsky says something at the beginning of the novel that the repeat reader will never forget. We meet him, in his first appearance, as Kitty's suitor, and already fear—as her mother will not quite let herself—that he will turn out to be a cad. The conversation in the parlor turns to table-rapping and spirits, and Countess Nordston, who believed in spiritualism, begins to describe the marvels she has seen.

Vronsky says, " '. . . for pity's sake, do take me to see them! I have never seen anything extraordinary, though I am always on the lookout for it everywhere.' " He says this in Kitty's living room, in her presence. Of course, he has not yet seen Anna.

That night, after flirting with Kitty, he goes straight home to his rented room and falls asleep early, musing, "That's why I like the Shcherbatskys', because I become better there."

His yearning for the extraordinary, the small account he gives to the peace-giving quality of the Shcherbatskys, tells his whole story, the way a prologue often announces the great Shakespearean themes. Kitty's father has never liked or trusted Vronsky, while her mother favors him, considering Levin only a "good" match, but Vronsky a "brilliant" one.

The dangers and glory of that kind of exceptionalism—in love—were for me, that first time, the subject of the novel.

That question of the viability of extraordinary and ordinary loves was even more riveting for me, at twenty-four, than the differences between happy and unhappy families. This dilemma, in fact—along with work and how to get by on little money in New York City—was the main thing my friends and I talked about. How X loves Y, but Y loves Z, but Z loves . . . all coming down to whether we would have great loves or have to "settle," as we put it.

Of course, we all want to have something extraordinary, in love. None of us, at twenty-four anyway, wants to settle or be settled for.

Part of what is touching, on a second reading, is Vronsky's first meeting with Anna. If you had asked me about that scene before I reread the book, I would have relied on convention and said that Vronsky met a beautiful woman at the train station. But on first seeing Anna—who will be for Vronsky the great love—Vronsky sees her full of life, but not necessarily exceptional. He glances at her once more "not because she was very beautiful" but because of an expression on her face of "something peculiarly . . . soft." Vronsky has not had an ordinary family life. He doesn't much remember his father, and his mother, now "a dried-up old lady," had been "a brilliant society woman, who had had during her married life, and especially afterward, many love affairs notorious in all society." Tolstoy makes it clear that Vronsky does not love or respect his mother.

Anna says, " 'The countess and I have been talking all the time, I of my son and she of hers.' "

Vronsky recognizes Anna first as a mother, a mother miserable to be away—for only a few days—from her beloved son. We might say that what seemed extraordinary for him was just the quality of ordinary maternal devotion his own mother never had.

And here we feel the tragic parallel. Anna is bound to become a woman like Vronsky's mother, notorious for her affair. Later on, her great concern will be that her son may lose respect for her.

Vronsky will wish for nothing more than to make his daughter legitimate and to marry Anna, in the usual way.

" 'My love keeps growing more passionate and selfish, while his is dying, and that's why we're drifting apart,' " Anna says, near the end. " 'He is everything to me, and I want him more and more to give himself up to me entirely. And he wants more and more to get away from me. . . . If I could be anything but a mistress, passionately caring for nothing but his caresses; but I can't and I don't care to be anything else. And by that desire I rouse aversion in him, and he rouses fury in me, and it cannot be different.' "

There, Anna is, I believe, talking about sex. But by then, Vronsky wants the precious ordinary: a marriage, a family—which is as unattainable for him as his heightened passion is for Kitty or Levin or Dolly or even Stiva.

Meet the Author

The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torch-bearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
September 9, 1828
Date of Death:
November 20, 1910
Place of Birth:
Tula Province, Russia
Place of Death:
Astapovo, Russia
Education:
Privately educated by French and German tutors; attended the University of Kazan, 1844-47

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Anna Karenina 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 468 reviews.
ereaderbookworm More than 1 year ago
Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is all that and then some, but let's talk translations. This is the same 1901 rendering by Constance Garnett used in most of the e-editions out there. Though familiar (especially for its opening sentence), it is widely criticized for its deficiencies and considered a poor choice among better alternatives. The 1918 Maude translation is far better. It is the one most read in college literature classes. The Norton Critical Edition uses the Maude translation, with some revisions by George Gibian. That edition has not been published for e-readers, but a good NOOK edition of the Maude translation is attached to this review (or search "Anna Karenina Maude"). The 2000 translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is the one associated with Oprah's Book Club. Oprah selected the novel itself more than a particular translation, but a print edition of the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation was featured on her website, so people think of that one as Oprah's pick. The NOOK edition is attached to this review (or search "Anna Karenina Pevear"). It is a matter of taste which translation is preferable, the Maude or the Peavear and Volokhonsky. The influence of the translator is second only to the author in shaping the text. The quality of the translation is crucial.
Nick_The_Book_Lover More than 1 year ago
This is one of the greatest, most beautiful and most heartbreaking novels ever written. No wonder Oprah Winfrey selected it, even though it was written well over a hundred years ago!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nook edition of Anna Karenina is the best book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oprah was right about this one ... a truly amazing, indeed, life changing book. Highly, highly, highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nice to see this book title anna karenina..
ArgoKR More than 1 year ago
Don't buy this e-book. It is full of typographical errors. I am so disappointed! I am only a few pages into this book and I cannot believe the poor quality. How hard can it be to get it correct. I have asked for a refund, we'll see how that goes...... ArgoKR
cpkx More than 1 year ago
I don't recall ever reading an ebook with more blatant errors. Although most of the misspelled/partial words can be deciphered, it greatly detracts from the readability. It is obvious that no effort went into the making of this book other than a likely OCR scan from what may have been a poor quality original text. A simple running of a spell checker could have probably caught at least 95% of the errors, but that would still amount to thousands of corrections.
Lovelybookworm More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best novels I've read but this digital copy has so many spelling errors that it became annoying within reading the first few pages. Find another copy if you can. This novel really is worth paying a little extra money.
megsy_g More than 1 year ago
I wish I had read the other reviews before I bought this one! I'd always wanted to read the book, so didn't think I needed to check out ratings. The frequency of typing/spelling errors was mindboggling, and should have been caught by any basic spell check; there was at least one on every page. Every couple of days, I would go back to it and try to give it another shot, but I would give up in irritation after a few pages. There's no excuse for publishing such a poor quality version of this classic.
GreekLady More than 1 year ago
There are 6 typos per page on average, the book had gotten digitized, and never corrected. Save your 99 cents and download for free from Project Gutenberg. I expected better quality control from B&N.
wannabeinbrd More than 1 year ago
I have always loved this book but there are so many extreme typos on each page, that the book is unreadable. It looks as though they put a typewriter in a cage of monkeys. A huge disappointment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The lack of editing in this eBook is a disgrace!!!!! I cannot believe B&N had the audacity to charge for this disaster - Never-ending spelling mistakes and typos - it becomes impossible to read with so many errors.
Irwing More than 1 year ago
Of course Tolstoy is marvelous. However, this particular E-book publication is horrible. There are at least two spelling errors on each page. Get another printing of this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is good and I have no problem with the book itself, however, the B&N version is terrible. There are spelling errors and typos on nearly every "page". Not worth the $.99.
mumbles71 More than 1 year ago
With all the spelling errors, it feels like you are trying to translate from the original Russian. I know it is under a dollar, but why would B&N even put something of such poor quality on their web site? Spend the extra money and buy another version of this book- the story is excellent!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As some of the other reviews have stated, this version of Anna Karenina was FILLED with typos -- at least 1 in 10 words was misspelled, some so badly that it was impossible to decipher what the word should be. This greatly affected the overall reading experience. Love the story, but buy another version.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a new Nook book reader. I have noticed some spelling and spacing errors in a few of the books I have read. Anna Karenina is a great story but this book is so badly misspelled it was hard to read. The book is 822 pages and trying to read through all the misspelling was horrible. I didn't read any reviews before purchasing it and maybe I should have. I was tempted to go out and purchase a copy of the book so I could appreciate the story better. I don't know where the books are transcribed but it couldn't have been run through a spell check. It was sad to see a classic so poorly treated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would like to have finished this book, but in the first 1/4 of the book, it totally skipped chapters! Can't remember now how many, but enough that I couldn't make sense of what I was then reading. I e-mailed B&N, but never heard back from them. I was going to delete it from my library, but maybe someone there will read this and follow up. Hope springs eternal....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good story. Kind of long, over 2400 pages but enjoyable. Would even read it again sometime. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will enjoy this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I won't pretend I have read this whole book yet. Honestly, I don't like it, but I understand it has been translated and that may be why it is so hard to follow (uses "In" for "I" and other strange spelling issues). However, this .99 NOOK version is missing about 100 pages that contain a major part of the plot (I assume, as I have never read it before and now am left to guess what happened, which I think I have, but still). I would not recommend buying this .99 version. I'm not sure other NOOK versions are available, but this one is certainly lacking.
mamastrick More than 1 year ago
I am extremely frustrated by the typographical errors in this e-version! I enjoyed the first 50 pages as far as the story, but just gave up in frustration from page after page of mispelled words and unedited copy! I am sure that when I read the original version I will love it!
Tolstoy More than 1 year ago
The copy I downloaded on my Nook is very poor. There are many misspellings and the spacing is incorrect.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This isn't a review of the book, but this edition of the book: The butchered one. If you're considering it, you're crazy. It's abridged. Know what that means? They took one of the greatest classics of all time, chopped out the parts that made the really eventful parts pop so that it has no major part anymore, and just...destroyed the book. Imagine your favorite movie limited to a tiny small limit. This isn't even half the book, it's LESS than that. WAY less than that. If you want to read the book, read the book, not a really big summary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of my all-time favorites, but this e-book completely ruined it. It skipped the most important chapters!! Seriously, don't buy this. You won't understand it without everything in it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a paper copy of this classic a few years back, but had to throw it away after a natural disaster affected my home. When I got a nook, this was the first book that I purchased in hopes of finally finishing the story. Unfortunately, this is a cheap electronic copy and skips ahead hundreds of pages mid story. When I complained to Barnes and Noble about 6 months ago, they claimed that it would be fixed within 2 weeks, but it has yet to be. I'm deeply disappointed and would not recommend purchasing any nookbooks.