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Anna Karenina
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Viola | 1014 comments The original discussion schedule that I had posted for Anna Karenina was:
Oct 15, 2011: Parts 1 - 4
Nov 1, 2011: Parts 5 - 8

However, I very much regret to say that I'm way behind in my reading (in the middle of Part 2) with little hope of catching up by Oct. 15th. Therefore, I propose 2 options:

1.) Revise the reading schedule, so that we discuss just Parts 1 and 2 on Oct. 15th.


2.) Someone else volunteer to help lead the discussion.

What do you ladies think?

message 2: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sheila  | 3120 comments Mod
Viola, I am 28% done, on chapter 35 of Part 2, which I think is near the end of part 2. So I am not much further than you. If Tera doesn't mind you extending the schedule for those of us who are reading this, I am all for a longer schedule, with the discussion of parts 1 & 2 starting on Oct 15th.

The November 15th discussion of Gilead could still stay the same, and this one could just run a bit longer for those attempting it (it was almost more of a Chunky read).

message 3: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sheila  | 3120 comments Mod
I'm curious how many other Chicks are currently reading this for the group read. If you are reading this, would you chime in, so Viola can plan her discussion schedule? :o)

Irene | 2428 comments I plan to read and join this discussion, but hav not started yet. Finishing up Foresyte for the chunky read, just finished another book for a different GR group, have my in person group next week that I need to read for and want to do Frankenstein. I figure I would just lag behind for a while on this one. But, if the schedule was slowed down, I might have a prayer of catching up.

message 5: by Viola (last edited Oct 19, 2011 06:12AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Viola | 1014 comments Okay, let's do a revised schedule. (I hope Tera is okay with this.) It's roughly one part per week, except for the end, where I give an additional week because of Thanksgiving.

Discussion schedule:
Oct. 15: Parts 1 and 2
Oct. 29: Parts 3 and 4
Nov. 12: Parts 5 and 6
Dec. 3: The whole book

message 6: by Rebecca (last edited Oct 12, 2011 07:57AM) (new)

Rebecca Anna K was an Oprah pick so you can download and print the bookmark. It is helpful to keep characters straight.

Irene | 2428 comments Thanks Viola

message 8: by Julie (new)

Julie (Julie1014) | 313 comments I replied on the "chunky book" thread about Anna K as a book read. I'm in! I have always wanted to read this book. I will go and get it from the library, or download it on my Nook. I look forward to the discussion! :)

message 9: by Julie (new)

Julie (Julie1014) | 313 comments Just got the book today! I got the penguin Classics edition Anna Karenina. I'd better get reading! ;)

message 10: by Julie (new)

Julie (Julie1014) | 313 comments Does anyone know the correct pronunciation of Anna's last name?

Is it like "car" or "care?" Just curious. Thanks!

message 11: by Ananda (last edited Oct 15, 2011 09:11AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ananda I think it's like "car" as you say it. be more clear:)

message 12: by Julie (new)

Julie (Julie1014) | 313 comments Perfect! Thanks, Ananda! :)

message 13: by Ananda (last edited Oct 15, 2011 09:39AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ananda No problems:)..My name is Ana (one N though) and this is one of the books we've read in High School, I think during the First Year. After reading it, I wasn't too happy I share the same name with the main female character. I rated it 3 stars, must admit I do love classic reads and Russian authors, but I didn't like Anna at all. Hope you guys enjoy the book though:)

Viola | 1014 comments Let's open up the initial discussion for parts 1 and 2!

I'll be adding questions to help facilitate discussion, but don't feel constrained by them. You are welcome to add whatever comments you like and throw out your own questions to the group too.

To get the discussion started:
What are your initial impressions?

message 15: by Julie (new)

Julie (Julie1014) | 313 comments Viola, thank you so much for starting this! I will be back later to do a more formal post. But for now, My initial impression upon starting the book was that their names get complicated with so many variations!

message 16: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sheila  | 3120 comments Mod
Viola wrote: "To get the discussion started:
What are your initial impressions? "

Like Julie, my initial impressions were about the complicated, confusing names. Since it also took me "forever" to read parts 1 & 2, my initial impressions were also "boy, this is going to be a tough read!" The story and characters skipped around so much in the beginning, that I also thought I would never keep them all straight. But the further I get into it, the more it is making sense, and the more I remember who is who. So, while it is a slow starter, I think it will be worth the effort in the long run. :o)

Viola | 1014 comments I too found the names very complicated. I started reading on the free Kindle version and then quickly switched to the Maude translation. The version that I bought (which is the one: Anna Karenina) has a very long intro section, part of which has a list of all the characters and explains the naming traditions. So that was a great help.

I found the Maude translation much easier to read than the free Kindle one. The flow was smoother. But, like Sheila, it also took me "forever" to read the first two parts. I kept waiting for our title character to show up.

I have to say that this book is nothing like what I originally imagined. I had expected this book to be about a very strong, extraordinary female character, and I found Anna to be just an ordinary woman. I guess I was expecting something like The Awakening with maybe a dash of Scarlett O'Hara's "gumption". I mean, Anna's not particularly weak, but also not particularly strong. I have to say, I don't particularly care for her. I'm rather indifferent to her as a character and I expected to love her.

Becky (DivaDog) | 1015 comments I read the book earlier this year, and had to look up a summary of the parts to make sure I wasn't ahead of the conversation!

Anna grows on you - also her character is not that of a hero, but about choices we make, and where we are in society that causes those choices. Anna marries an older gentleman not because of love, and the consequences when she is pursued and accepts the love of Vronsky. A lot of the book is about the consequences of that decision.

As far as society - the contrast between how Anna's infidelity is viewed as compared to her brother, Stipan Oblonsky is interesting.

Regine I just finished reading this book a few months ago.

My initial impression of the book was how kind and vivacious Anna Karenina is. I loved how she deals with her brother's infidelity. Of course, my feelings for her completely changed as the book progressed.

And Oblonsky! I couldn't help but love him. Yes, he's a cheating man-whore but his Oblonskyisms and his outlook on life just adds a great deal of humour to the book.

Viola | 1014 comments @Becky -- I too picked up on the contrast between the reaction to Anna's infidelity and her brother Oblonsky's infidelity. I think that it was a intelligence choice for the author to begin the novel with Oblonsky's infidelity. Do you think that this is still true in today's world? That there is still a double standard?

message 21: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sheila  | 3120 comments Mod
Viola wrote: " Do you think that this is still true in today's world? That there is still a double standard? "

It almost seems today that men are mostly the ones looked down upon the most in infidelity. Or maybe it is just that the standards have evened out, because truthfully, cheating and divorce are so much more common in today's society.

Terri (TerriLovesCrows) | 26 comments My problem with the book when I read it was the extended descriptions of things I thought unimportant to the story (for instance, how they voted with those balls). To me, it detracted so much from what was happening with the characters

message 23: by Viola (last edited Oct 25, 2011 09:46AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Viola | 1014 comments Our discussion is a little quiet, so I picked out a few quotes from the book that I thought were interesting.

1.) What do you think about the first line of this novel? Do you agree or disagree?

In my translation, it goes:
"All happy families resemble one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

I don't exactly agree with the statement, but I can see that unhappiness is probably more interesting to write about. And I think that it's a nice first sentence that sets the tone of the book.

2.) What do you think of Tolstoy's view on Society during his time? Do you belong to the first set or the second?

At the end of Part 1 (Ch. 34), he writes:
"In his Petersburg world people were divided into two quite opposite sorts. One — the inferior sort: the paltry, stupid, and, above all, ridiculous people who believe that a husband should live with the one wife to whom he is married, that a maiden should be pure, a woman modest, and a man, manly, self-controlled and firm; that one should bring up one’s children to earn their living, should pay one’s debts, and other nonsense of that kind. These were the old-fashioned and ridiculous people. But there was another sort of people: the real people to which all his set belonged, who had above all to be well-bred, generous, bold, gay, and to abandon themselves unblushingly to all their passions and laugh at everything else."

I can absolutely see how he elaborates on this idea through his novel. Anna is the one who abandons herself to her passions. I, however, am one of those ridiculous, stupid types, as I personally fall into the first category.

message 24: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sheila  | 3120 comments Mod
1.) What do you think about the first line of this novel?

I admit, this is a very interesting line, one of those that makes you actually stop and think about it. But I don't think I really agree with it. I think there can be many times of happy families, from all walks of society, rich, poor, and with a wide variety of family members. So I don't think that happy families resemble each other at all, truthfully. So probably I would say that all families, be they happy or unhappy, are all unique in their own way. :o)

2.) What do you think of Tolsoy's view on Society during his time?

Well I have to say I belong to the first group, and I really don't consider all these things to be of the "inferior sort" at all! Faithful married couples, honest, hard working, pay their debts, are all good traits, so I would guess that the author is being sarcastic in this statement. (at least I hope so)

Terri (TerriLovesCrows) | 26 comments Re. The first line - I agree with Sheila. Families are all so different and so is what makes them happy.

message 26: by Tera, First Chick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tera | 2526 comments Mod
Oh I agree with him. I think happy is happy. True happiness is pretty universal in its definition I think. A rich family or a poor family if they are both truly happy I tend to think it's for similar reasons. Happy is kind, loving, content. The poor happy family and the rich happy family are doing good to each other and others.
Unhappiness on the other hand manifests its self in so many different ways. It can be self destructive or abusive or synical or bullying the list goes on and on. Unhappiness can be in your face and smack you about or it can be hidden behind a facade of "normal family". You don't know other peoples unhappiness as easily. You don't know what caused it or why it lead them to do this or that. No one hides happiness it's contradictory to what happiness means. I think Tolstoy nailed it on that one.

The second question is in relation to the first. Tolstoy was unhappy! When you're unhappy anyone who isn't is an idiot and they don't get "it". Their joy is too simple to be real. They must be faking it. It is the same messages we are sent on a daily basis in society. A woman who doesn't work isn't living up to her potential. All men cheat. Every kid has sex at 14. If they aren't doing these things well they simply must be liars or they aren't normal. They aren't following their true nature. They are being held down by old fashioned stereo types.

message 27: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sheila  | 3120 comments Mod
Tera, may I debate with you? :o)

The translation I am reading (kindle version, translated by Constance Garnett) reads:

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

So if happy families are all alike, if they are all happy because they are loving, kind, content, and doing good to each other and others, are not then unhappy families all alike in that they are NOT all of the things above? :o)

Okay, so since I am sitting at the computer this morning, I went on a google search for "what makes people happy". Here is an interesting article from USA today (yeah, yeah, it's not the New York Times, but it's what I found! LOL) titled "Psychologists now know what makes people happy"

message 28: by Viola (last edited Oct 25, 2011 09:44AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Viola | 1014 comments Sheila wrote:

Well I have to say I belong to the first group, and I really don't consider all these things to be of the "inferior sort" at all! Faithful married couples, honest, hard working, pay their debts, are all good traits, so I would guess that the author is being sarcastic in this statement. (at least I hope so)"

I agree with you that I don't consider the qualities of the first group to be inferior. However, I don't think that Tolstoy was being sarcastic. I think that is precisely how he is portraying the characters in his book. I believe that Tolstoy has a favorable opinion of his heroine and a negative one of her husband Karenin. Karenin is over and over again portrayed as someone who is the type to follow the rules and conform to societal norms. He is portrayed as overly concerned with his reputation and how he will be perceived by others. This is all cast in a very negative light. And while I can understand that being a negative trait, especially the way the author writes it, I can also see the flip side of it -- that Karenin just wants to be a normal, upstanding citizen who isn't at the center of a scandal. What's so wrong with that?

Also, thanks Tera for adding your 2 cents. I think realizing that the author himself was unhappy helps me understand his point of view better.

message 29: by Tera, First Chick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tera | 2526 comments Mod
You may debate :) I encourage it!

I think what he means is happiness presents its self the same way it looks the same regardless. I don't think unhappiness does. Unhappiness is often more secretive. We hide our unhappiness and want to pretend to be happy or normal or sane. The things that make us happy, like the article says are universal regardless of your status (I think). If you ask a hundered people what makes them happy youre likely to get similar answers from all 100. But with unhappiness its so vast. Not enough money comes to the top of the mind but it could be self image or abusive relationships or parent/child relationships or horrible job or seasonal depression or a zillion different things. You don't hide your happiness. No happy family goes around trying to look sad. But unhappy families sometimes come right out and drop it on your step "We are the UnHappy Happystons your new neighbors" and other times you never know. You think the family next door is happy but they are drowning in misery and you don't know it because it doesn't have a universal face.
I think thats what hes saying the same things make everyone happy. Happy is easy to draw. Unhappiness can look like anything and anyone.

I suppose at the core you're right all unhappy families are alike because they aren't those things that make a happy family but don't think thats what hes driving at.

message 30: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sheila  | 3120 comments Mod
Tera wrote: "You may debate :) I encourage it!


Okay, so do you think that maybe Tolstoy is trying to make the reasons for being unhappy unique ("each is unhappy in its own way") because he is himself unhappy, and he want to feel that his personal unhappiness is special and unique?

I had to investigate this "Tolstoy was unhappy" idea further with my friend Wikipedia, and this is what it says about his personal life:

"On September 23, 1862, Tolstoy married Sophia Andreevna Behrs, who was 16 years his junior and the daughter of a court physician. She was called Sonya, the Russian diminutive of Sofya, by her family and friends. They had thirteen children, five of whom died during childhood. The marriage was marked from the outset by sexual passion and emotional insensitivity when Tolstoy, on the eve of their marriage, gave her his diaries detailing his extensive sexual past and the fact that one of the serfs on his estate had borne him a son. Even so, their early married life was ostensibly happy and allowed Tolstoy much freedom to compose War and Peace and Anna Karenina with Sonya acting as his secretary, proof-reader and financial manager. However, their latter life together has been described by A. N. Wilson as one of the unhappiest in literary history. Tolstoy's relationship with his wife deteriorated as his beliefs became increasingly radical. This saw him seeking to reject his inherited and earned wealth, including the renunciation of the copyrights on his earlier works."

Yep, he sounds like a pretty miserable guy! Love the wedding present to his wife. Such class! And their latter married years were "one of the unhappiest in literary history".

Irene | 2428 comments From a literary standpoint, I agree with that happy family statement. After all, how many great pieces of literature are written about happy, normal families verses the number written about struggles. There is something unique in unhappiness, struggle, difficulty that is inherently interesting. I remember many, many years ago when taking a basic psychology class in college, the prof saying that one of the great minds in the field (can't recall which one of the giants of psychology right now) was asked if he had ever encountered a person who had a healthy, normal family upbringing since there was such a glut of people claiming dysfunction in their family of origin. This well regarded psychologist apparently replied that he had and those were the most boring people he had ever met.

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

I just started reading so I don't know if I'll get a chance to take a major part in this discussion (I'm only on page 60 so far, hoping I'll at least catch up enough to talk about some matters brought up as questions). But I'd like to share my two cents.

1) I disagree with the first sentence. Not so much about the unhappy family part, since all of them ARE unhappy for different reasons, but because of the happy family part. Even from a literary standpoint, if you wanted to write a boring book about a family who never has conflict it can be for different reasons. Some families are happy because they have money. Some are happy because they have kids (partners living together/spouses would be the family in that case). Some are happy because they don't have either of those. Boring story but they're happy for different reasons.

2) I'm pleasantly surprised by Tolstoy. I had a lot of inner turmoil about whether I should read this or not. I've tried Jane Austen multiple times and I dislike her writing with a passion (sorry if that offends anybody). It's just too dry and pompous for me. The Bronte sisters are hit and miss for me. Same with Steinbeck. Haven't tried Dickens yet. But for the most part, classic literature has rarely ever grabbed me and I think a big part of that is because of the language used and the time/culture barrier. Maybe I got a really good translation but I'm able to easily follow the story, even as the characters switch the storytelling perspective. I know what's going on and I can't say that I had the same feeling while trying to read Emma or Pride and Prejudice.

Viola | 1014 comments @Dani -- I'm so glad that you are joining our discussion!

By chance, what translation are you reading? I am reading the Maude translation, which I found to be much better than the free Kindle version. There is also a newer translation what was done for Oprah's book club.

In general, I consider myself someone who likes the classics. I love love Jane Austen. I enjoyed the Bronte sisters, enjoyed Thomas Hardy. Not a fan of Dickens. Interestingly, I'm having a hard time getting through Anna Karenina (and perhaps also regretting nominating a book that I've never read before). So it seems that my experience is a bit opposite of you. Haha.

message 34: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sheila  | 3120 comments Mod
Viola, I'm still reading the kindle version (Constance Garnett translation) and it is actually getting much easier for me to read. I wonder if I just needed time to get used to it? I'm actually getting into the story now, and am more able to keep all the characters straight. :o)

Viola | 1014 comments @Sheila -- Yes, by now I've got the characters straight. I am currently in the middle of Part 4. Yes, at this point, I am used to the language. That's not what bothers me. My problem is that I am simply not a fan of Anna. Not at all. Not in the slightest. I'm not a fan of Vronsky either. I find myself sympathetic towards Karenin, even though Anna calls him cruel over and over again. On the bright side, I am finding Levin's story to be relatively more interesting.

message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

@Viola - Yeah, I'm reading the Maude version too.

Priya (Priyavasudevan) | 110 comments Viola wrote: "@Dani -- I'm so glad that you are joining our discussion!

By chance, what translation are you reading? I am reading the Maude translation, which I found to be much better than the free Kindle ver..."

Viola, like you, I read Anna a long while back, in my case, when I discovered a cache of translations including Sholokhov, Dostoevsky, etc. I was following a thread on the language and grammar group about men writing women's characters and vice versa and while I am not debating that here, I do think, part of my dislike for the brooding, gloomy quality which pervades all the 18C Russian classics stemmed from that period when I read all those books back to back. As for Anna, it was more that I was impatient with her. She seemed to wallow in her pain... Sorry, I was quite young then and this is what I remember. I think I need to re-read it. As for happiness, it does seem to be in short supply in Tolstoy's work, generally.
As for the others you mention, I love Dickens for taking on such grim subjects amd making them, primarily great reads, though his women are too black and white for my taste.I love Jane and the Bronte sisters for their gentle social satire. I find Thomas Hardy, again, very interesting but weighted down with tragedy. George Eliot is more of the same. They are great writers and I have read more than one book of each, but.... There is tragedy in the Bronte's but always a leaven of satirical wit. So where does this leave Anna? On the side of gloom and doom, I'm afraid.... at least for me...

message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

I must say, I feel really bad for poor Levin. He seems so sensible (even if he is a bit shy and misguided at times) and earnest in his feelings. Flawed feelings but he truly believes in them. Whereas Vronsky...I dislike him very much. I want to feel pity for Anna but it seems she doesn't realize the flaws of her husband until after her emotional affair starts. Which leads me to believe she was fine with those flaws until then and of course once the physical starts...Dolly and Kitty, I'm not sure how I feel. They seem sorta silly to me.
So yes, doom and gloom upon everyone!

Becky (DivaDog) | 1015 comments Priya - You bring up an interesting point. I think that how one feels about a lot of these books has a lot to do with life experience. I'm in my 50's and read Anna this last summer and adored it. The book has so many juxtapositions - Anna and Vronsky to Lenin and Kitty, and life in the country compared to the city, the peasants and the aristocracy. This was my first Russian literature (except years ago reading Solzhenitsyn Aleksandr I. in college. I was surprised how gay and elaborate the parties were.

Irene | 2428 comments Hate to be a bother, but I don't think that the electronic version of the book that I am using has the part divisions, just chapter numbers. Would someone be so kind as to post which chapters are in which parts? I finished Foresyte and am now delving into AK and enjoying it. Will try to catch up as quick as possible.

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Sheila  | 3120 comments Mod
I am reading the electronic (free kindle) version too. So far, it is telling me when I get to a new "Part" though they are not really set apart in any way. The chapter numbers do start over at 1 in each new part though.

From what I can tell on Cliff Notes website here are the number of chapters for each "Part":

Part 1: 34 chapters
Part 2: 35 chapters
Part 3: 32 chapters
Part 4: 23 chapters
Part 5: 33 chapters
Part 6: 32 chapters
Part 7: 31 chapters
Part 8: 19 chapters

Irene | 2428 comments Thanks so much for that.

message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Out of curiosity, has anyone read - or is reading - both the novel and the electronic version? Kinda want to know if having the book divided definitively into "Parts" makes it easier to transition (since you know that something is changing) or if it's perfectly fine to figure out what's going on/changing without the "Parts" announcement. Some books I feel it's important and others I'm just sitting there scratching my head wondering what changed enough to determine this is a different part than what came before.

message 44: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sheila  | 3120 comments Mod
It is a bit disconcerting not being sure where you are at. I am a bit behind for the reading schedule. I just checked and I am currently on a Chapter 31. I am pretty sure that is chapter 31 of Part 3. I guess I will know for sure when I finish this chapter and chapter 32, if I see a small Part 4 before the next chapter 1. But with this kindle version, there is really no way to know which "chapter 31" I am on in the middle of a "part". I guess they just expect you to remember where you are at.

Like many others of you, I am not liking the character of Anna. The character I most like currently is Levin, and I am actually quite enjoying all the talk about his farm and the peasants, and the farming practices of the time. There are some things that the author goes into great detail with that I am finding very interesting. :o)

Viola | 1014 comments @Dani -- My electronic version does have the parts labeled; and we are apparently both reading the Maude version. But I have not felt that they were significant divisions in the storyline. So I don't think you are missing anything.

@Irene -- I think you are mistaken. This is the first time that I'm reading this book.

I do think that our own lives and where we are in them does color our opinions of a book. I think I might have been more sympathetic towards Anna if I had gone through a similar sort of affair or even if I had experienced a divorce. But that has not been my life experience, at least so far, and I'm not wishing for such experiences just to sympathize with Anna. Haha. I definitely think this is a hard book to read in HS.

Who here LOVES Anna Karenina? Either the character herself or the book.

I'd love to hear from you! Please chime in!

Becky (DivaDog) | 1015 comments I loved the book. I think it shows a great depiction of the complications of life and the treatment of the peasants by the aristocracy that lead up to the revolution.

Also watching Anna be pursued, finally give in, and then regret was very real to me. I read this the same time I was reading the beginning of The Forsyte Saga for our groups Chunky Read. For others who have read that, I kept comparing Anna to Irene in Forsyte. For me Anna so much more fleshed out and believable. - I'll be curious to hear what Irene has to say - especially since she stuck with the full chunky read.

This is another one I did on audio book - I was sucked into it immediately. I did have a Kindle book along side, and the language of some of the more dramatic passages were amazing. My audiobook was Maude, where my Kindle I believe was the Garnett translation.

Irene | 2428 comments Viola, What post of mine are you disagreeing with. I am not trying to be ignorant, just can't recall saying much other than to ask about book divisions, but maybe I said something profound that I can't recall. I am still playing catch up with this book. Planning to ddedicate several hours to it later today, if life does not get in the way, so maybe I can be more active in the conversation soon.

Becky, I will get back to you on that question. I am just finishing book 1, so am VERY behind. I will have to keep Irene in mind as I read. I wonder how much the Russian cultural expectations vs the Brittish will change the way these women react.

Viola | 1014 comments @Irene -- Whoops! I was totally wrong here. I was actually responding to Priya's post. So sorry.

Irene | 2428 comments Viola, Darn and I thought that maybe I had my first sufficiently unique thought that someone might have disagreed with it. O well, maybe one of these days I will have that thought.

message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

@Viola - I'm loving the book. As I mentioned before, this is one of the few classics I'm actually able to follow easily, which certainly helps. I'm with Sheila, so far my favorite character is Levin. I love how Tolstoy uses him to transition between Society and peasant life. And it's profound to see characters that are actually emotional and completely flawed. It seems that a lot of modern novels (literature and fluff) want to give you at least one character that you can't dislike anything about. But Tolstoy has given a few flaws to each character, some minor and some major, that can all frustrate the reader but still make them continue reading.
I'm finding it really interesting just how much the characters try to be like other cultures. I believe Kitty and Dolly's dad is the only one who has ever been mentioned as fully embracing his Russian heritage. All the other characters speak French or a little English and try to take on activities that are very French or British. To me this deepens the desire to show yourself as being something you're not. Some characters are trying to make themselves seem higher in status than others, some are hiding secrets, some want a completely different life (mainly Levin regarding his status societally and relationally). By adding this nuance I feel the charade the characters are playing even more than if these details were left out.

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