Anthony Berger's Reviews > Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
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's review
Jul 29, 2011

it was amazing

Who are we? Where are we? Why are we here? These questions are not only answered, but given a philosophical explanation overlaid with a rich dynamic, narrative. First, it must be said, Tolstoy intricately weaves people into his writing. The consistency of character, the beauty of their response, and the lyrical prose by which its documented, allows the reader to feel privileged in participating. It is an utter rarity to find a novel so adept at character development, which makes this book a markable contender for being one of the greatest novels ever written [as many call it].

The story itself, which follows roughly one dozen late-nineteenth century Russian aristocrats, explores the vastly different preoccupations and mental/physical tribulations that affronted the minds of czar-era, affluent Russians. Though the book is titled after Anna Arkadyevna Oblonsky Karenina, and her scandalous affair with Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky, their story is far from the narrative centerpiece. Moreover, this novel follows the ripple-effects felt by the nature of such an affair. Ekaterina Alexandrovna, Kitty as everyone calls her, eventually marries Konstantin Dmitrich Levin. Though he was not Kitty's first choice, they eventually marry.Tolstoy detailedly chronicles their relationship; brilliantly, and somehow effortlessly, explaining the elaborately interwoven nature of human relationships.

Perhaps the richest parts of the novel, which truly allow the reader to access Tolstoy's mind, are the philosophical soliloquies that characters will fall into; these are glorious pages with paragraphs that run several pages long. There are two notable philosophical digressions that make this novel so rich: Anna Arkadyevna's, earlier in the novel, and Konstantin Levin's, at the end. Their philosophies are so different, it's mind-boggling to think that the same author composed both credos.

I rarely give 5 stars (actually, I don't think I ever have). You must read this book. The Pevear/Volokhonsky translation is far and away the best available. I assure you, Tolstoy won't let you down on this's beautiful, brilliant, and effortlessly profound.

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