Leonard's Reviews > Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
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Aug 16, 14

bookshelves: literature-russian, literary-novels
Read in April, 2006

To seek happiness Anna left the proper and dull Karenin for the dashing and exciting Vronsky, but in the end, committed suicide to end her misery. Rather than a comment on morality, Tolstoy through Anna Karenina, as in War and Peace, sought to contrast those who like Anna ignored or opposed the ubiquitous force which direct the destiny of individuals and nations and those who like Levin flowed with it. Both Anna and Levin, unlike Stiva and Dolly, could not passively regurgitate accepted behavior to satisfy social conventions and accept a banal existence, but they paved their paths one to the north and the other to the south.

Moscow
Red Square, Moscow

Passion directed Anna to oppose social conventions and with all a rebel’s defiance pursued in Vronsky’s arms the happiness that Karenin could not provide. They would love as if the whole world belonged to them. But in the end she could not live like Robinson Crusoe and was not strong enough to fend off social forces, which proclaimed reality’s omnipresence.

Levin sought to transform himself and love Kitty as social conventions could only imitate. He sought to transcend social conventions, which were not in sync with the force that directed destinies, to attune to a higher melody, one that resonates wit the natural order of things.

Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy

The diametrically opposing destinies of Anna and Levin revealed, as in War and Peace, Tolstoy’s search to harmonize with a natural force greater than reason, passion or will. For him, to raise the sword against that force would be to embrace the inferno.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Dolors Excellent display of Tolstoy's ultimate quest to find existential meaning while transcending the socially accepted in the individual and the communal sphere. This is a compulsory reading for me after having met Tolstoy's impassioned magnificence in "War and Peace."


Leonard Yes, Both Anna and Levin struggle with the tension between the individual and society, but they reach different ends. And so Tolstoy commented on their individual characters as well as the social milieu of late 19th century Russia.


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