Anna Karenina pdf, Book, Summary, Characters by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina Book Overview

Anna Karenina pdf by Leo Tolstoyis,  a Russian author

The novel was first published in book form in 1878. Widely considered to be one of the greatest works of literature ever written. 

Tolstoy himself called it his first true novel. It was initially released in serial installments from 1875 to 1877, all but the last part appearing in the periodical The Russian Messenger.

Anna Karenina is a complex novel in eight parts, with more than a dozen major characters, spread over more than 800 pages, typically contained in two volumes. 

The story centers on an extramarital affair between Anna and dashing cavalry officer Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky that scandalizes the social circles of Saint Petersburg and forces the young lovers to flee to Italy in a search for happiness, but after they return to Russia, their lives further unravel.

The novel Anna Karenina has been adapted into various media including theater, opera, film, television, ballet, figure skating, and radio drama.

A bachelor, Vronsky is eager to marry Anna if she will agree to leave her husband Karenin, a senior government official, but she is vulnerable to the pressures of Russian social norms, the moral laws of the Russian Orthodox Church, her own insecurities, her love for her son, and Karenin’s indecision. Although Vronsky and Anna go to Italy, where they can be together, they have trouble making friends. Back in Russia, she is shunned, becoming further isolated and anxious, while Vronsky pursues his social life. 

The novel explores a diverse range of topics throughout its approximately one thousand pages. Some of these topics include an evaluation of the feudal system that existed in Russia at the time—politics, not only in the Russian government, but also at the level of the individual characters and families, religion, morality, gender, and social class.

Anna karenina pdf video review

Anna Karenina Summary

The novel Anna Karenina is divided into 8 parts and 239 chapters. Its epigraph is “Vengeance is mine; I will repay“, from Romans 12:19, which in turn quotes from Deuteronomy 32:35. The novel begins with one of its most oft-quoted lines:

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

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Anna Karenina Summary Part 1

Prince Stepan Arkadyevich Oblonsky (“Stiva”), a Moscow aristocrat and civil servant, has been unfaithful to his wife, Princess Darya Alexandrovna (“Dolly”). Dolly has discovered his affair with the family’s governess, and the household and family are in turmoil. Stiva informs the household that his married sister, Anna Arkadyevna Karenina, is coming to visit from Saint Petersburg in a bid to calm the situation.

Meanwhile, Stiva’s childhood friend, Konstantin Dmitrievich Levin (“Kostya”), arrives in Moscow with the aim of proposing to Dolly’s youngest sister, Princess Katerina Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya (“Kitty”). Levin is a passionate, restless, but shy aristocratic landowner who, unlike his Moscow friends, chooses to live in the country on his large estate. He discovers that Kitty is also being pursued by Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky, an army cavalry officer.

Whilst at the railway station to meet Anna, Stiva bumps into Vronsky who is there to meet his mother, the Countess Vronskaya. Anna and Vronskaya have traveled and talked together in the same carriage. As the family members are reunited, and Vronsky sees Anna for the first time, a railway worker accidentally falls in front of a train and is killed. Anna interprets this as an “evil omen”. Vronsky, however, is infatuated with Anna, and donates two hundred roubles to the dead man’s family, which impresses her. Anna is also uneasy about leaving her young son, Sergei (“Seryozha”), for the first time.

At the Oblonsky home, Anna talks openly and emotionally to Dolly about Stiva’s affair and convinces her that Stiva still loves her despite the infidelity. Dolly is moved by Anna’s speeches and decides to forgive Stiva.

Kitty, who comes to visit Dolly and Anna, is just eighteen. In her first season as a debutante, she is expected to make an excellent match with a man of her own social standing. Vronsky has been paying her considerable attention, and she expects to dance with him at a ball that evening. Kitty is very struck by Anna’s beauty and personality and becomes infatuated with her just as much as with Vronsky. When Levin proposes to Kitty at her home, she clumsily turns him down, believing she is in love with Vronsky and that he will propose to her, and encouraged to do so by her mother, who believes Vronsky would be a better match (in contrast to Kitty’s father, who favors Levin).

At the ball Kitty expects to hear something definitive from Vronsky, but he dances with Anna instead, choosing her as a partner over a shocked and heartbroken Kitty. Kitty realizes that Vronsky has fallen in love with Anna and has no intention of marrying her, despite his overt flirtations. Vronsky has regarded his interactions with Kitty merely as a source of amusement and assumes that Kitty has acted for the same reasons. Anna, shaken by her emotional and physical response to Vronsky, returns at once to St. Petersburg. Vronsky travels on the same train. During the overnight journey, the two meet and Vronsky confesses his love. Anna refuses him, although she is deeply affected by his attention to her.

Levin, crushed by Kitty’s refusal, returns to his estate, abandoning any hope of marriage. Anna returns to her husband, Count Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, a senior government official, and her son in St. Petersburg. On seeing her husband for the first time since her encounter with Vronsky, Anna realizes that she finds him unattractive, though she tells herself he is a good man.

Anna Karenina Summary Part 2

The Shcherbatskys consult doctors over Kitty’s health, which has been failing since Vronsky’s rejection. A specialist advises that Kitty should go abroad to a health spa to recover. Dolly speaks to Kitty and understands she is suffering because of Vronsky and Levin, whom she cares for and had hurt in vain. Kitty, humiliated by Vronsky and tormented by her rejection of Levin, upsets her sister by referring to Stiva’s infidelity, saying she could never love a man who betrayed her. Meanwhile, Stiva visits Levin on his country estate while selling a nearby plot of land.

In St. Petersburg, Anna begins to spend more time in the inner circle of Princess Elizaveta (“Betsy”), a fashionable socialite and Vronsky’s cousin. Vronsky continues to pursue Anna. Although she initially tries to reject him, she eventually succumbs to his attentions and begins an affair. Meanwhile, Karenin reminds his wife of the impropriety of paying too much attention to Vronsky in public, which is becoming the subject of gossip. He is concerned about the couple’s public image, although he mistakenly believes that Anna is above suspicion.

Vronsky, a keen horseman, takes part in a steeplechase event, during which he rides his mare Frou-Frou too hard—his irresponsibility causing him to fall and break the horse’s back. Anna is unable to hide her distress during the accident. Before this, Anna had told Vronsky that she is pregnant with his child. Karenin is also present at the races and remarks to Anna that her behavior is improper. Anna, in a state of extreme distress and emotion, confesses her affair to her husband. Karenin asks her to break it off to avoid further gossip, believing that their marriage will be preserved.

Kitty and her mother travel to a German spa to enable Kitty to recover from her ill health. There, they meet the wheelchair-using Pietist Madame Stahl, who is accompanied by the kind and virtuous Varenka, her adopted daughter. Influenced by Varenka, Kitty becomes extremely pious and concerned for others, but when her father joins them she becomes disillusioned after learning from him that Madame Stahl is faking her illness. She then returns to Moscow.

Anna Karenina Summary Part 3

Levin continues working on his estate, a setting closely tied to his spiritual thoughts and struggles. He wrestles with the idea of falseness, wondering how he should go about ridding himself of it, and criticizing what he feels is falseness in others. He develops ideas relating to agriculture, and the unique relationship between the agricultural laborer and his native land and culture. He comes to believe that the agricultural reforms of Europe will not work in Russia because of the unique culture and personality of the Russian peasant.

When Levin visits Dolly, she attempts to understand what happened between him and Kitty and to explain Kitty’s behavior. Levin is very agitated by Dolly’s talk about Kitty, and he begins to feel distant from Dolly as he perceives her loving behavior towards her children as false. Levin resolves to forget Kitty and contemplates the possibility of marriage to a peasant woman. However, a chance sighting of Kitty in her carriage makes Levin realize he still loves her. Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, Karenin refuses to separate from Anna, insisting that their relationship will continue. He threatens to take away Seryozha if she persists in her affair with Vronsky.

Anna Karenina Summary Part 4

When Anna and Vronsky continue seeing each other, Karenin consults with a lawyer about obtaining a divorce. During the time period, a divorce in Russia could only be requested by the innocent party in an affair and required either that the guilty party confessed—which would ruin Anna’s position in society and bar her from remarrying in the Orthodox Church—or that the guilty party be discovered in the act of adultery. Karenin forces Anna to hand over some of Vronsky’s love letters, which the lawyer deems insufficient as proof of the affair. Stiva and Dolly argue against Karenin’s drive for a divorce.

Karenin changes his plans after hearing that Anna is dying after the difficult birth of her daughter, Annie. At her bedside, Karenin forgives Vronsky. However, Vronsky, embarrassed by Karenin’s magnanimity, unsuccessfully attempts suicide by shooting himself. As Anna recovers, she finds that she cannot bear living with Karenin despite his forgiveness and his attachment to Annie. When she hears that Vronsky is about to leave for a military posting in Tashkent, she becomes desperate. Anna and Vronsky reunite and flee to Italy, leaving behind Seryozha and Karenin’s offer of divorce.

Meanwhile, Stiva acts as a matchmaker with Levin: he arranges a meeting between him and Kitty, which results in their reconciliation and engagement.

Anna Karenina Summary Part 5

Levin and Kitty marry and start their new life on his country estate. Although the couple are happy, they undergo a bitter and stressful first three months of marriage. Levin feels dissatisfied at the amount of time Kitty wants to spend with him and dwells on his inability to be as productive as he was as a bachelor. When the marriage starts to improve, Levin learns that his brother, Nikolai, is dying of consumption. Kitty offers to accompany Levin on his journey to see Nikolai and proves herself a great help in nursing Nikolai. Seeing his wife take charge of the situation in an infinitely more capable manner than he could have done himself without her, Levin’s love for Kitty grows. Kitty eventually learns that she is pregnant.

In Italy, Vronsky and Anna struggle to find friends who will accept them. Whilst Anna is happy to be finally alone with Vronsky, he feels suffocated. They cannot socialize with Russians of their own class and find it difficult to amuse themselves. Vronsky, who believed that being with Anna was the key to his happiness, finds himself increasingly bored and unsatisfied. He takes up painting and makes an attempt to patronize an émigré Russian artist of genius. However, Vronsky cannot see that his own art lacks talent and passion, and that his conversation about art is extremely pretentious. Increasingly restless, Anna and Vronsky decide to return to Russia.

In St. Petersburg, Anna and Vronsky stay in one of the best hotels, but take separate suites. It becomes clear that whilst Vronsky is still able to move freely in Russian society, Anna is barred from it. Even her old friend, Princess Betsy, who has had affairs herself, evades her company. Anna starts to become anxious that Vronsky no longer loves her. Meanwhile, Karenin is comforted by Countess Lidia Ivanovna, an enthusiast of religious and mystic ideas fashionable with the upper classes. She advises him to keep Seryozha away from Anna and to tell him his mother is dead. However, Seryozha refuses to believe that this is true. Anna visits Seryozha uninvited on his ninth birthday but is discovered by Karenin.

Anna, desperate to regain at least some of her former position in society, attends a show at the theater at which all of St. Petersburg’s high society are present. Vronsky begs her not to go, but he is unable to bring himself to explain to her why she cannot attend. At the theater, Anna is openly snubbed by her former friends, one of whom makes a deliberate scene and leaves the theater. Anna is devastated. Unable to find a place for themselves in St. Petersburg, Anna and Vronsky leave for Vronsky’s country estate.

Anna Karenina Summary Part 6

Dolly, her mother the Princess Scherbatskaya, and Dolly’s children spend the summer with Levin and Kitty. The Levins’ life is simple and unaffected, although Levin is uneasy at the “invasion” of so many Scherbatskys. He becomes extremely jealous when one of the visitors, Veslovsky, flirts openly with the pregnant Kitty. Levin tries to overcome his jealousy, and briefly succeeds during a hunt with Veslovsky and Oblonsky, but eventually succumbs to his feelings and orders Veslovsky to leave in an embarrassing scene. Veslovsky immediately goes to stay with Anna and Vronsky at their nearby estate.

When Dolly visits Anna, she is struck by the difference between the Levins’ aristocratic-yet-simple home life and Vronsky’s overtly luxurious and lavish country estate. She is also unable to keep pace with Anna’s fashionable dresses or Vronsky’s extravagant spending on a hospital he is building. In addition, all is not quite well with Anna and Vronsky. Dolly notices Anna’s anxious behavior and her uncomfortable flirtations with Veslovsky. Vronsky makes an emotional request to Dolly, asking her to convince Anna to divorce Karenin so that the two might marry and live normally.

Anna has become intensely jealous of Vronsky and cannot bear it when he leaves her, even for short excursions. When Vronsky leaves for several days of provincial elections, Anna becomes convinced that she must marry him to prevent him from leaving her. After Anna writes to Karenin again seeking a divorce, she and Vronsky leave the countryside for Moscow.

Anna Karenina Summary Part 7

While visiting Moscow for Kitty’s confinement, Levin quickly gets used to the city’s fast-paced, expensive and frivolous society life. He accompanies Stiva to a gentlemen’s club, where the two meet Vronsky. Levin and Stiva pay a visit to Anna, who is occupying her empty days by being a patroness to an orphaned English girl. Levin is initially uneasy about the visit, but Anna easily puts him under her spell. When he admits to Kitty that he has visited Anna, she accuses him of falling in love with her. The couple are later reconciled, realizing that Moscow society life has had a negative, corrupting effect on Levin.

Anna cannot understand why she can attract a man like Levin, who has a young and beautiful new wife, but can no longer attract Vronsky. Her relationship with Vronsky is under increasing strain, because he can move freely in Russian society while she remains excluded. Her increasing bitterness, boredom, and jealousy cause the couple to argue. Anna uses morphine to help her sleep, a habit she began while living with Vronsky at his country estate. She has become dependent on it. Meanwhile, after a long and difficult labor, Kitty gives birth to a son, Dmitri, nicknamed “Mitya”. Levin is both horrified and profoundly moved by the sight of the tiny, helpless baby.

Stiva visits Karenin to seek his commendation for a new post. During the visit, Stiva asks Karenin to grant Anna a divorce with her as the innocent party (which would require him to confess to a non-existent affair), but Karenin’s decisions are now governed by a French “clairvoyant” recommended by Lidia Ivanovna. The clairvoyant apparently had a vision in his sleep during Stiva’s visit and gives Karenin a cryptic message that he interprets in a way such that he must decline the request for divorce.

Anna becomes increasingly jealous and irrational towards Vronsky, whom she suspects of having love affairs with other women. She is also convinced that he will give in to his mother’s plans to marry him off to a rich society woman. They have a bitter row and Anna believes the relationship is over. She starts to think of suicide as an escape from her torments. In her mental and emotional confusion, she sends a telegram to Vronsky asking him to come home to her, and then pays a visit to Dolly and Kitty. Anna’s confusion and anger overcome her and, in conscious symmetry with the railway worker’s death on her first meeting with Vronsky, from ground level at the end of a railway platform, she throws herself with fatal intent between the wagon wheelsets of a passing freight train.

Anna Karenina Summary Part 8

Sergei Ivanovich’s latest book is ignored by readers and critics and he participates in the Russian commitment to Pan-Slavism. Stiva gets the post he desired so much, and Karenin takes custody of Vronsky and Anna’s baby, Annie. A group of Russian volunteers, including the suicidal Vronsky, depart from Russia to fight in the Orthodox Bulgarian revolt that has broken out against the Turks, more broadly identified as the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878).

A lightning storm occurs at Levin’s estate while his wife and newborn son are outdoors and, in his fear for their safety, Levin realizes that he does indeed love his son as much as he loves Kitty. Kitty’s family is concerned that a man as altruistic as her husband does not consider himself to be a Christian.

After speaking at length to a peasant, Levin has a true change of heart, concluding that he does believe in the Christian principles taught to him in childhood and no longer questions his faith. He realizes that one must decide for oneself what is acceptable concerning one’s own faith and beliefs. He chooses not to tell Kitty of the change that he has undergone.

Levin is initially displeased that his return to his faith does not bring with it a complete transformation to righteousness. However, at the end of the story, Levin arrives at the conclusion that despite his newly accepted beliefs, he is human and will go on making mistakes. His life can now be meaningfully and truthfully oriented toward righteousness.

Anna Karenina Themes

Anna Karenina pdf commonly explores the themes of hypocrisy, jealousy, faith, fidelity, family, marriage, society, progress, carnal desire and passion, and the agrarian connection to land in contrast to the lifestyles of the city.

Anna Karenina Characters 

  • Anna Arkadyevna Karenina (Анна Аркадьевна Каренина): Stepan Oblonsky’s sister, Karenin’s wife and Vronsky’s lover.
  • Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky (Алексей Кириллович Вронский): Anna’s lover, cavalry officer.
  • Prince Stepan “Stiva” Arkadyevich Oblonsky (Степан “Стива” Аркадьевич Облонский): civil servant and Anna’s brother, man about town, 34 years of age. (Stepan and Stiva are Russianized forms of Stephen and Steve, respectively.)
  • Princess Darya “Dolly” Alexandrovna Oblonskaya (Дарья “Долли” Александровна Облонская): Stepan’s wife, 33 years of age.
  • Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin (Алексей Александрович Каренин): senior statesman and Anna’s husband, twenty years her senior.
  • Konstantin “Kostya” Dmitrievich Levin/Lyovin (Константин “Костя” Дмитриевич Лёвин): Kitty’s suitor, Stiva’s old friend, landowner, 32 years of age.
  • Nikolai Dmitrievich Levin/Lyovin (Николай Дмитриевич Лёвин): Konstantin’s elder brother, impoverished alcoholic.
  • Sergei Ivanovich Koznyshev (Сергей Иванович Кознышев): Konstantin’s half-brother, celebrated writer, 40 years of age.
  • Princess Ekaterina “Kitty” Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya (Екатерина “Кити” Александровна Щербацкая): Dolly’s younger sister and later Levin’s wife, 18 years of age.
  • Prince Alexander Shcherbatsky (Александр Щербацкий): Dolly and Kitty’s father.
  • Princess Shcherbatsky (no name or patronymic given): Dolly and Kitty’s mother.
  • Princess Elizaveta “Betsy” Tverskaya (Елизавета “Бетси” Тверская): Anna’s wealthy, morally loose society friend and Vronsky’s cousin.
  • Countess Lidia (or Lydia) Ivanovna (Лидия Ивановна): leader of a high society circle that includes Karenin, and shuns Princess Betsy and her circle. She maintains an interest in the Russian Orthodox, mystical and spiritual.
  • Countess Vronskaya: Vronsky’s mother.
  • Sergei “Seryozha” Alexeyich Karenin (Сергей “Серёжа” Каренин): Anna and Karenin’s son, 8 years of age.
  • Anna “Annie” (Анна “Ани”): Anna and Vronsky’s daughter.
  • Agafya Mikhailovna (Агафья Михайловна): Levin’s former nurse, now his trusted housekeeper.

Anna Karenina Author – Leo Tolstoy (Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy)

Leo Tolstoy - Author of Anna karenina
Leo Tolstoy – Author of Anna karenina

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy Russian: Лев Николаевич Толстой; (9 September 1828 – 20 November 1910), usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He received nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906 and for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1909 but never won.

Born to an aristocratic Russian family in 1828, Tolstoy’s notable works include the novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1878) often cited as pinnacles of realist fiction. He first achieved literary acclaim in his twenties with his semi-autobiographical trilogy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (1852–1856), and Sevastopol Sketches (1855), based upon his experiences in the Crimean War. His fiction includes dozens of short stories and several novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886), Family Happiness (1859), “After the Ball” (1911), and Hadji Murad (1912). He also wrote plays and numerous philosophical essays.

Anna Karenina Book Information 

Anna karenina pdf
Anna karenina pdf
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Classics (May 1, 2004)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 864 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0143035002
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0143035008
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 18 years and up
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 1080L
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 12 and up
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.12 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 8.4 x 5.7 x 2 inches
  • Best Sellers Rank: #6,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • #5 in Russian Literature (Books)
  • #73 in Teen & Young Adult Classic Literature
  • #96 in Classic American Literature
  • Customer Reviews: 
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars
  • 2,446 ratings

Anna Karenina Book Reviews

Jordan B.
5.0 out of 5 stars A TRUE MASTERPIECE
Reviewed in the United States on March 19, 2020
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First and foremost, the novel is beautiful in it’s appearance. I purchased the paperback Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition by Pevear and Volokhonsky. The book has a stunning cover with a dust jacket and deckle edge, all of which make the book that much more expensive and beautiful. My pictures definitely don’t do it justice, but I’ve included a few for reference.

WARNING: save the introduction until after you complete the novel to avoid spoilers. It contains a few important plot details concerning the fates of several characters. That being said, the introduction is a beautifully written insight into Tolstoy’s journey to write Anna Karenina, including the influences from his real life that inspired many of the novel’s characters and events.

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” WOW! The first sentence alone was is masterfully written that you know you’re in for an incredible journey.

This translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky is beautifully written in such a way that the text is readable (and doesn’t come across as being outdated) but maintains the author’s authentic voice without any commentary on the part of the translators. Additionally, the translators included an especially helpful character list detailing the names and familial relations of the main characters as well as a section of notes that explain specific plot details regarding Russian society and history.

I tried to pace myself through the book, originally committing to only about 50 pages per night before bed. But when I started reading I couldn’t stop, I was so enraptured by the novel that I couldn’t put it down, and read all 800+ pages in less than a week. This story is truly timeless. My only complaint (if you can even call it that) is that I expected more closure…maybe a more complete picture regarding the characters’ lives (particularly Vronsky and Karenin) outside of their relationships with Anna. However, those uncertainties amplify the tragic elements and provide a sense of realism. An incredible addition to my bookcase.

joe m

5.0 out of 5 stars Anna is hot!
Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2019

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I am absolutely in love with Leo T! This book has taken me on an emotional rollercoaster. I just finished reading the entire book. I hated when I got to the end. I wanted the story to continue forever. It has entertained me on every chapter and I am going to purchase more of his work. Awesome book and writer, I can’t say enough of how good this book is. I have always stayed away from old classics like this, because I thought they were too dated to enjoy. I was very wrong!!!!!

5.0 out of 5 stars Love and hate
Reviewed in the United States on August 6, 2021
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If I could summarize this book in a quote in regards to Anna and Vronsky it would be this one:
“I know no peace and cannot give you any…And I do not see any possibility of peace ahead either for me or for you. I see the possibility of despair, of unhappiness…or I see the possibility of happiness.”

That pretty much sums up their love affair and even though these words were spoken by Vronsky in the beginning of the novel, it served as a foreshadow of what was to come between him and Anna. I want to star by saying Im more of an emotional reader, although I do love analyzing classic books for meaning and being scholarly, I mostly go by my heart and the type of emotional response I get by learning about these characters and how their story unfolds. So my emotional side wants to give this story a solid 3 stars. I DO NOT LIKE READING BOOKS ABOUT CHEATING but made one of the rare exceptions with this book as my dear friend recommended it to me. I felt Anna and Vronsky were being selfish and I just couldn’t sympathize with them. I know Karenin, Annas husband, was not exactly a cinnamon roll or the most passionate person on earth but at least he took care of her and their son. I do agree he wasn’t emotionally available to Anna and she longed to be and feel loved and in a passionate relationship, but that passionate relationship is what ultimately unraveled her and sent her down a dark path. I do believe Anna suffered from a mental illness and I did feel pity for her in that sense. She was the product and consequence of the society she lived in who sadly was not kind to women in Annas position. This is why I gave the book a 5 star, Tolstoy had a way of making me hate her but pity her at the same time and even understand her. The raw human emotions expressed in this novel were truly wonderful. I felt what they felt and as I was reading it and I found myself thinking of the story even when I wasn’t reading it. When a book can do that to me that’s how I know I will remember it always and will have a lasting impact on me.

I personally hated Vronsky, I guess what he felt for Anna was “love” but I honestly didn’t see it. Anna loved him way more than he did and towards the end he only thought of himself.

However, Kitty and Levin’s story served as a contrast to Anna and Vronskys story and I LOVED IT SO MUCH!!!! Levin, faults and all, was a wonderful character to read and Kitty was a delight. There is a scene/part of the book where Levin doesn’t want to take Kitty with him to see his dying brother but she’s like Im going anyway (go Kitty!) and we get to see how amazing Kitty is. She took charge of the situation that Levin realized how valuable Kitty is. Another great part was when they confess their feeling for each other!!! That was super cute and romantic.

There are a lot of more characters that I didn’t mention but added substance to the story but those two couples were the standouts.

Would I recommend it? Yes, although its a long book and deals with cheating/adultery everyone should read it once and if you can get the audio version with Maggie Gyllenhaal that would make your reading/listening experience even better.

There is a lot of themes and lessons we learn from this book but other reviewers, I feel, can cover this much better than I, but still wanted to share my thoughts. If you decide to embark on this journey that is Anna Karenina I wish you the best. I will definitely read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy now that I have a taste for his writing 🙂

Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Still great after all these years
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 11, 2019

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I first read Anna Karenina 26 years ago and since then have always regarded it as the best novel I have ever read. Revisiting it half a lifetime later it still is that. Yes it could be shorter and there are a whole load of issues about what’s included and maybe what’s excluded but it travels effortlessly over the decades and centuries and has kept me and intellectually and emotionally engaged in 2019 as it did for that young man all those years ago. An essential read in any lifetime and one I will hopefully revisit in old age.

Richard Gilbert
5.0 out of 5 stars Shifting human emotions
Reviewed in the United States on January 11, 2014

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Basically I picked the translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky based on its opening line: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”—I liked their version’s phrasing and punctuation, as well as the opening sentence of the second paragraph. I imagine that in any version, which must be an interpretation and approximation of his Russian style, Tolstoy’s graciousness and wisdom survive.

Tolstoy can do anything as a writer, and he wants to do a lot. I was most excited and touched and impressed by the way he traces shifting human emotions, shows how people get embarrassed, get angry, change their minds, rise above ego and fall to it. Side note: People BLUSH a lot! I imagine this is historically accurate, and makes me realize one way we’ve changed, though the conflict between ego and modesty, pride and shame, is unchanged.

Anna is a tragic figure but a very human one; among the things the novel does of course is indict social mores and hypocrisy, showing how it plays out in a highly stratified patriarchal society. The novel’s religion theme fascinated me. Everyone’s a nonbeliever, at least privately; then one character’s religious yearning and his breakthrough to belief in Christian goodness without having true faith impressed me deeply.

Tolstoy’s digressions into civil service, farming, and politics can lose a reader briefly, but he handles even them so well that they remain readable even if you are not interested in the topic.

Richard Gilbert

5.0 out of 5 stars Shifting human emotionsReviewed in the United States on January 11, 2014

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Basically I picked the translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky based on its opening line: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”—I liked their version’s phrasing and punctuation, as well as the opening sentence of the second paragraph. I imagine that in any version, which must be an interpretation and approximation of his Russian style, Tolstoy’s graciousness and wisdom survive.

Tolstoy can do anything as a writer, and he wants to do a lot. I was most excited and touched and impressed by the way he traces shifting human emotions, shows how people get embarrassed, get angry, change their minds, rise above ego and fall to it. Side note: People BLUSH a lot! I imagine this is historically accurate, and makes me realize one way we’ve changed, though the conflict between ego and modesty, pride and shame, is unchanged.

Anna is a tragic figure but a very human one; among the things the novel does of course is indict social mores and hypocrisy, showing how it plays out in a highly stratified patriarchal society. The novel’s religion theme fascinated me. Everyone’s a nonbeliever, at least privately; then one character’s religious yearning and his breakthrough to belief in Christian goodness without having true faith impressed me deeply.

Tolstoy’s digressions into civil service, farming, and politics can lose a reader briefly, but he handles even them so well that they remain readable even if you are not interested in the topic.

5.0 out of 5 stars Kostya Levin, the True Hero
Reviewed in the United States on August 7, 2011
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Of this immense mistakenly titled novel, is patently Lev Tolstoy masquerading as an artless thinker, that is, a Thinker without an Art, neither a painter nor a writer, simply a man trying to find find meaning in life by thinking about himself. Does he think too much? Eventually he thinks so. He’s happiest when he wields his own scythe, an aristocrat embarrassing his serfs both by his energy and by his inappropriate humility. More pages of the novel are devoted to Levin’s erratic musings and violent mood swings than to any other character, male or female. Levin is the protagonist as well as his own antagonist. Levin is the intellectual leavening of this tear-sodden melodrama. It’s Levin’s epiphany, his realization of a plausible happiness amid the falsehood and grief of life, that concludes the book, long pages after the death of the title-character. Levin’s abjuration of Reason and embrace of instinctive mysticism do not amount to an Answer to Life’s Big Questions for this reader, but Levin is a fully realized human being, one of the most believable in all literature, just as this novel is one of the most perfectly realized works of fiction ever written.

“Anna Karenina” is an earnest philosophical novel upon which a fiery opera is grafted. The graft is surgically perfect. It takes. The stories of Anna and Vronsky, Levin and Kitty, Levin and his Doubts are all melded together seamlessly. There have been at least half a dozen grand operas based on “Anna Karenina”, none of which have held the stage either artistically or commercially, not merely because the novel is too large for a libretto but because the deepest parts are invariably excluded. No Levin interior monologues, no leavening of the plot! Grand opera, in the tradition of 19th C Romanticism, isn’t amenable to Tolstoy’s quasi-Jungian Weltanschauung. It seems that Leos Janacek attempted to compose an “Anna Karenina” opera, but abandoned the project. And if Janacek couldn’t do it, no one else had a chance!

I’m not a scholar of Russian literature. I haven’t read the preface to this translation, or any biography of Tolstoy, or a single essay about “Anna Karenina”, but I’m convinced that Levin is Tolstoy’s spiritual self-portrait, and his prefiguration of the course his own life would take. I also have to confess, sadly, that I can’t read a word of Russian. This great novel exists for me only via translation. Whether the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation captures any or none of Tolstoy’s literary flair is completely opaque to me. I had read the 100-year-old translation that remains the most widely known, and assumed that the novel had to be better in the orginal, since the translation amounted to wretched English prose. Now I can at least confidently declare that Pevear’s translation is good English prose. In fact, if I were given a paragraph of it without a title and with all the place names replaced by sites in North Dakota, I think I would be fooled. I wouldn’t suspect a translation.

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