Anna Karenina is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in book form in 1878. Many writers consider Anna Karenina the greatest work of literature ever, and Tolstoy himself called it his first true novel. It was initially released in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger.
A complex novel in eight parts, with more than a dozen major characters, it is spread over more than 800 pages (depending on the translation and publisher), typically contained in two volumes. It deals with themes of betrayal, faith, family, marriage, Imperial Russian society, desire, and rural vs. city life. The plot 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 for Italy in a search for happiness. Returning to Russia, their lives further unravel.
Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (September [O.S. 28 August] 1828 – 20 November [O.S. 7 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 multiple nominations for Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906
and nominations for Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902 and 1910, and the fact that he never won is a major Nobel prize controversy.
Anna Karenina is set in nineteenth-century Russia, exploring relationships, death and controversy between tradition and freethinking.
A crucial theme in Leo Tolstoy’s works is adultery. In Moscow, Anna Karenina meets the charming Vronsky, and together they indulge in an affair despite her husband Karenin. One might argue that Anna is selfish in her passionate romance, having to choose between Vronsky and her young son. Nevertheless, I can’t help but pity her desperate actions as she is trapped in a marriage full of emotionless conventionality.
Alongside this intense relationship, there are many more characters cleverly intertwined, which gives the reader a deep insight into different aspects of the time. While Anna is hopelessly trying to keep Vronsky a secret, Levin travels on a philosophical journey, Kitty starts broken-hearted, Dolly struggles to keep the Oblonsky family together and Karenin is lost. The raw reality of the characters’ lives is fascinating. Furthermore, Leo Tolstoy entertainingly provides several characters’ perspectives, resulting in empathy for those who I would least expect!
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina begins by saying,
All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
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