I love this book, my favorite book. I never thought it could be improved - until now! (In the process of reading, I also discovered there was an illusI love this book, my favorite book. I never thought it could be improved - until now! (In the process of reading, I also discovered there was an illustrated edition published in 1948. I need to track one down...) I'm not sure everyone would benefit from this book, but anyone who loves Hemingway or wants to learn about a writer's process would really benefit from this book. At some points this book feels to me like it was created out of perfect this air, but seeing the early drafts and alternate endings, I realize how much craft went into shaping this book, so I appreciate it all the more....more
After finishing the novel, I read that "Anna Karenina is a novel of ideas, rather than merely a tragic love story." I think that is the only interpretAfter finishing the novel, I read that "Anna Karenina is a novel of ideas, rather than merely a tragic love story." I think that is the only interpretation that makes sense to me, given the entirety of the novel. With a novel named after a central character, I thought the book would be mostly about her, but it really tracks several characters. Levin is perhaps a dual main character, with Vronsky and Karenin close seconds, and Dolly, Kitty, and Stiva close behind. If the book were only a tragic love story, Anna would have been central, with Karenin and Vronsky close behind. But I think it was important for Tolstoy to counter Anna's story with someone who had a different, though also challenging, experience in life and love. Really, both Anna and Levin, throughout the book, are on a journey for the meaning of life. They both find it - but different meanings in different ways. For Anna, all she wants is to be happy, to live happily, but society isn't quite at the point she is at. Levin finds the meaning of life in living for goodness and for God, though he spends much of the novel as an unbeliever.
And other characters find it as well. Karenin finds peace with the Countess and their psychic friend, so much different than earlier in the novel, when he was so rational, normal, and strong. Vronsky finds that the meaning of life is nothing, though this realization leads him to a noble cause in the fight for Slavic people's independence. I think what this all means is that, there is a different meaning of life for everyone. I think that Tolstoy clearly had a preference for Levin, but nonetheless he acknowledges others.
I am only a little disappointed that the book ended with Levin, and that Anna's death wasn't scrutinized a little deeper. The last chapters from her point of view, I think, are the most beautiful chapters of the novel. She might not have led a morally acceptable life from Tolstoy's point of view (or from the point of view of other characters) but she was a brave woman, a woman before her time, really, and I think her death meant more than what was portrayed. We get from outsiders - Countess Vronsky - how Vronsky took Anna's death, but I would have liked to hear more about that from Vronsky himself. I am also curious how Karenin felt about it. The Countess says that it was easier for him, because Anna released him, but I'm not sure if that's true. The entire experience with Anna clearly changed Karenin significantly, and I can't believe that her death didn't have a profound affect. Simply his taking in her daughter, whom he loved when she was born, strikes me as a clue to that. ...more
My college thesis advisor recommended this book to me some five or six years ago. I didn't read it then - I was buried under WAR AND PEACE - but I remMy college thesis advisor recommended this book to me some five or six years ago. I didn't read it then - I was buried under WAR AND PEACE - but I remembered the title and bought it several years ago. And finally got around to reading it, which was a month-long slog.
And I don't say slog in a negative way. Rather, it was just so dense that I found myself pausing to think about it, sometimes overnight, and often not reading more that ten pages in a sitting.
It reminds me a bit of CATCH 22, though probably more subtle, more "understatement" as the afterword notes. I admit I thought it was going to be more of a "war novel," but by the end I was very pleased at what it turned out to be: a reverberation of WWI through several characters' lives. All the technique in the novel, all the characters and plot points, serve this reverberation. ...more
I really enjoyed this book for how it was done, for the narrative perspective and structure. I was also really interested in the way that Nabokov relaI really enjoyed this book for how it was done, for the narrative perspective and structure. I was also really interested in the way that Nabokov related memory to emotion. I especially enjoyed the scene toward the end of Part II where Humbert is talking to Lolita, trying to learn the name of the man who "kidnapped" her, and all she says is "waterproof". I was totally baffled by this scene, until I read some criticism about it. This is definitely a book that one might read quickly in order to finish it, but then should go back and pick apart. It is really amazing, artful, how Nabokov inserts little hints about Clare Quilty throughout. ...more
I read this specifically for the beginning, for the setting introducing the characters. I liked it more than I remember from reading it in high schoolI read this specifically for the beginning, for the setting introducing the characters. I liked it more than I remember from reading it in high school, though I think I prefer East of Eden....more