Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877, 817 pages, trans. by Richard Peaver and Larissa Volokhonsky)

To me doing a blog post in which I would praise Anna Karenina as a great novel is pretty much like doing a travel post on India in which you say the Taj Mahal is a pretty building.  I first read AK about forty years ago.    I read it a second time this week.   I think my memories of the novel comes at least as much from having seen the Greta Garbo, 1935, movie several times.  

I think the only reason that AK is not included in ten best  novels in the world lists more often is that it does not seem fair to list makers (or interesting to their audience) that the same author should have two books in the list.   (It has been four years since I read War and Peace and I hope to reread it soon.)  
Disco Fever?  

I think the best way, if you have the time, is to read one or two of the eight sections every day, saving the short last section to be read last on a separate day.   There are only about ten really central characters so you can keep them straight and the translators have a cast list in front.   I knew the basic plot action of  the book but still I was in great suspense while reading.    I found the scene where Anna and Vronsky first consummated their relationship incredibly shocking and powerful, much more erotic than the most graphic best seller.

This is just, to me, a perfect work of art.   I would say that I think Tolstoy gets better the older one gets.  If you are or were ever married, I think you will find yourself evaluating your marriage.

"I could play  Anna"

Please share your experience with the book or the movies with us.

Mel u


Anonymous said...

We will be reading this next month. Yay! I actually feel excited for the new film adaptation (because I love Keira Knightley). I wouldn't want to compare it with the older version because 1.) I don't think I will get a copy of it, and 2.) there's this notion that older films are always better.

Rohan Shedage said...

A month passed since I read War and peace...and I can't wait until I read Anna Karenina...

I agree with your first para..libraries have been written in the name of these two books...writing a review on them no more counts..

Laura said...

I only read Anna Karenina last year, but I loved it SO much, and I'm pretty sure it's given me a lifelong love of Russian literature, or at least high expectations for it! I'm definitely looking forward to revisiting it as I get older, and seeing how my feelings about the characters change as I do.

Laura Massey said...

I bought this recently with the intention of reading it before the new film comes out, but I really love old films and I might have to opt for the 1930s version. I'll probably still see the new one but not until AFTER I read the book.

Mel u said...

Laura. I love Greta Garbo as Anna. I will try Have an open mind on the new version. The old movie has great costumes and sets. Basil Rathbone is great as Anna's husband. Read the book first if possible so you will not have images in your mind as you read it. Thanks so much for your comments

Arti said...

We're doing a slow read-along of Anna Karenina in preparation for the upcoming film. This is my first time reading it, while others are reading it for the third or more times. There are also those who have given up reading it through, one stopping after 600 pages. The scene you mentioned above, which part is it in?

Mel u said...

Arti. Part two, chaper 11. I cannot imagine quitting it after 600 pages.

Portia Communications said...

I read this novel so many years ago and loved it for the complexity of its psychological insights. Tolstoy has very ambiguous feelings towards Anna, but the nature of her relationship with Vronsky is, for me, symbolised by the episode of the horse race. In his anxiety to win, Vronsky literally runs his mare into the ground: her back breaks and she has to be put down.
Poor Anna will meet a similar fate.
Dying to see the new film version!

Mel u said...

Portia Communications. I agree totally with your thoughts on the injured horse.