Laura's Reviews > Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
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's review
May 07, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: 2012, completed
Read from January 25 to May 05, 2012

After such an overwhelming reading experience, it's hard to pin down my feelings. Tolstoy's epic is not a tragic romance; it is a deeply thought out survey of a whole community struck by a woman's decision to leave her husband and child for her lover and the consequences of that decision. It's about the people of that community all trying to find happiness and meaning in their lives.

As such a detailed work about such a large cast of characters, it's an impressive masterpiece. It just disappointed me. I openly acknowledge that I went into this with more of a feminist perspective: Anna's friends and family go on with their lives scorning her actions, standing by while Vronsky (he hopes) goes to war in search of a 'purposeful ending'. Anna's initial bravery makes no impact and the men of the story go about searching for intellectual success (Sergei), familial intimacy (Levin), and meaning regardless. Anna is characterized as mean and destructive in her hopes for a 'higher connection' through passionate love. I suppose that I should have known Tolstoy would have condemned her in such a way, and illuminate a character like Levin for his newly established faith, despite leading us throughout the novel to sympathize with Anna. We should have known also given Dolly Oblonsky's return to her adulterous husband in the first section of the novel, that Tolstoy would frown upon Anna's choices and that the novel was headed in such a way... ::sigh:: Tolstoy is just that good at so fully creating his characters and their inner dialogues, that the reader so inhabits Anna and is carried into her distress, for better or for worse.

For a heavily detailed look at Russian social life, agriculture, and civil services during the turn of the century boost in industrialization and growing world power, this novel is an interesting portrait. It does not however challenge any social institutions like you would suppose a novel about an affair would. It gives us a window into Tolstoy's own sense of morality.

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Reading Progress

01/27/2012 page 119
02/01/2012 page 353
42.0% "Ready for Part Three... now if only I could make more time for reading around watching Downtown Abbey :)"
02/19/2012 page 437
52.0% "OK, so I'm up to Part Five... what the heck am I supposed to read in between this beast, though?!"
03/06/2012 page 437
52.0% "This sincerely will take the rest of my life." 3 comments
03/25/2012 page 551
66.0% "I will finish this by April. Right?"
05/04/2012 page 717
86.0% "The end is nigh! Today, today!!!!"
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Laura Nope. Maybe I'll finish this IN April... oops.

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