Read the Movie discussion

Anna Karenina
This topic is about Anna Karenina
140 views
Book & Movie Club: Anna Karenina > Anna Karenina: Part 1

Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Amy (last edited Dec 10, 2012 08:31PM) (new) - added it

Amy The Book
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina (Serialized 1873-1877)

The Author
Leo Tolstoy Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)

The Movie (2012)
*Cast: Cast: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Matthew Macfadyen, Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Kelly Macdonald, Ruth Wilson, Olivia Williams, Emily Watson
*Official Site
*Video Teasers

Historical Pre-Reading
*Russian Nobility
*Serfdom in Russia
*Emancipation reform of 1861
*Christian anarchism
*Anarcho-pacifism

Characters
*Character Cheet Sheet

When to Read
We're going to aim for finishing this in 2 months (December 2012-January 2013). However, we can discuss later if we need more time.

Spoilers
Please avoid talking about spoilers without using a spoiler cut. You can make a spoiler cut by following the html directions in the "(some html is ok)" link above the comment box.

Book Club Questions
Pre-Reading
1. How different was this period in Russia than in other parts of Europe?

Part 1
1. What do you think about Stefan Arkadyavich?

2. What do you think about the society that Tolstoy shows us, and, specifically, the role of women in this society?

3. When we first meet Stefan, he says of his affair, "I have the guilt, but I'm not guilty." How do you interpret this?

4. "And here people purposefully let their nails grow as long as they will, and link on small saucers by way of studs, so that they can do nothing with their hands." Are you familiar with any other historical or current cultural traditions similar to this one to indicate a person's privileged status?

5. "But that's just the aim of civilization -- to make everything a source of enjoyment." Do you agree? Is it a sign that a portion of society is more "civilized" when their main pursuit is enjoyment rather than work?

6. "All the profits of labor, on which they might improve their position, and gain leisure for themselves, and after that education, all the surplus values are taken from them by the capitalists. And society's so constituted that the harder they work, the greater the profit of the merchants and landowners, while they stay beast of burden to the end." Do you think that communism was an inevitable end result in Russia considering the lower class feeling that they were still being exploited by the upper class despite their emancipation from serfdom?


message 2: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary Lesh | 3 comments I just began reading it this afternoon. I would be glad to discuss it with you. How far have you gotten? I am only on page 12. I was at work so I did not get very far. This is my first book by Leo Tolstoy.
I noticed he uses both first and last names most of the time. I also surprised that the first four chapters have been about Anna Karenina's family when she is the main character. I would have thought she would appear much sooner.


Leslie Dolalas I've read Anna Karenina last summer and since then I've been interested in reading classics. As for the movie, I've seen the trailer and I'm not quite convinced of Keira Knightley as Anna. You'll know what I mean when you read the book.


message 4: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy I'm about this far in as well, so that's great. I'm liking the writing style so far, especially the depth of the characters so far. I like meeting flawed characters. It always makes me wonder what pieces of real people the author knew got written into a character and exaggerated. I get the feeling that we're going to need a character cheat sheet to keep everyone straight.

I've not read Tolstoy before either. I think this and War & Peace are his most famous works. I'm afraid I'd be more interested in the "peace" than the "war" bit, so I've stayed away. I'm curious to see how much of Tolstoy's religious ideas are going to seep into the book.

In another book group I'm in, we've had great success with everyone reading the book writing questions as we go along to spur conversation. I'd like to do that here.


message 5: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary Lesh | 3 comments I enjoy his writing style as well. I feel the most difficult part of this book is going to be keeping the characters straight. I agree with you, we will need a cheat sheet for character names.

I like your idea of reading some, then asking questions as we read along. I do have a question.
Do you or anyone else in the group know if this period, the Victorian Era, was any different in Eastern Europe? I would imagine there was not much difference other than Russia--I think- had more of a caste system? I really don't know much about Russian history so I may need to do some research to understand some of the thoughts and feelings the characters possess.


message 6: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy Mary wrote: "Do you or anyone else in the group know if this period, the Victorian Era, was any different in Eastern Europe? I would imagine there was not much difference other than Russia--I think- had more of a caste system?"

The book (written in the 1870s) seems to paint a society similar to the British "caste" system of the time with its butlers, nurses, and valets, doesn't it? I wish that I had had a framework to really hold all I learned about world history and compare the different countries side-by-side. But I have to say that I've forgotten most of what I've learned. A little research says that Alexander I and his nephew Alexander II emancipated serfs beginning in 1861 in order to free them without revolt. So I guess that they had the serf system much longer than places like England did. The fall of serfdom was attributed to the Black Death in the 1300s in Western Europe but didn't actually fall in Central and Eastern Europe until the mid-1800s. So I guess that it coincided with our own civil war. It's interesting that I'd never heard that analogy made before. Slaves to the land were being emancipated in more places than the USA during that time period. With the loss of slaves and serfs, society changes because people are no longer able to exploit others for their own wealth. It's a wonder that Western Europe was able to keep up their stratified society with its lords and ladies for so long.


Dora First of all, hi everyone, I'm Dora, I'm new here, love movies as much as I love books and I would like to join. Do we have a due by which we should read the book (because it's huge!)? A book is a sort of a all-time obligatory-in-school classic in Croatia...and I ignored it. And now the movie is coming, everyone keeps convincing me the book is a russian soap-opera and I decided I'll judge it by myself. :)))
About Russia, I don't remember much but the serfdom fell after revolutionary year 1848 in many eastern european countries but didn't change much because peasants didn't have their properties so they stayed on the land. That actually prevented the whole hierarchy to fall apart. One more thing, I'm not really sure... I think the French was a must: language, fashion, visit to Paris...
If anyone knows something more or if I said something wrong, !please! correct me.


message 8: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy Dora wrote: "First of all, hi everyone, I'm Dora, I'm new here, love movies as much as I love books and I would like to join. Do we have a due by which we should read the book (because it's huge!)? A book is a..."

Good point about the peasants staying on the land because they didn't have property, money, etc.

I thought we should try for 2 months, but, of course, it may take longer. We can see how far along we all are by then.


message 9: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary Lesh | 3 comments Thank you Dora and Amy. Isn't it funny how our histories (USA--I guess I should not assume all participants are from the USA) were so alike.


message 10: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy Mary wrote: "Thank you Dora and Amy. Isn't it funny how our histories (USA--I guess I should not assume all participants are from the USA) were so alike."

In the 1700s, the revolution in the USA sowed the seeds for the French revolution. So perhaps the freeing of the serfs in the 1860s sowed the seeds for slave emancipation in the USA. Here's an article comparing the 2.


message 11: by Dora (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dora Thanks Amy, I'll read the article as soon as I can.
So...I started reading Anna Karenina and in the first chapter I've noticed kids talking english and some english nannies...I guess I mixed it with Evgenij Onjegin (another russian classic, they love French), my bad.
I would like to ask you for your opinion, I know most of us just started reading but there are already few things we could discuss. For a start
1) what do you think about Stefan Arkadjewitsch (I'm reading it on gutenberg.spiegel.de, sorry if it looks weird)?
2)society Tolstoy shows us or, to be more specific, position of a woman in this society and
3)the sentence that really bugs me: at the begining when we first meet Stefan Arkadjewitsch, he says: "I have the guilt but I'm not guilty." How do you interpret it?


message 12: by Amy (last edited Dec 08, 2012 01:02PM) (new) - added it

Amy 1. I was thinking Jude Law would have played this part well (thinking of his parts in Alfie and Final Cut), but apparently he has the part of Anna's husband instead in the movie. He's interesting, isn't he? He seems like one of those guys that can do no wrong ... even when he does wrong. Very charismatic. Has friends across societal boundaries. But I have a feeling I'd not like him ... that I'd see through him immediately and not be a part of the masses who find him so charming. Perhaps I've been around too many schmoozing bamboozlers to find charisma on that level to be charming.

2. The position that women have doesn't seem odd for the time.

3. I think he means that he feels guilty for hurting his wife, but that he refuses to see that he's done anything wrong. After all, he doesn't love his wife, and, after all, doesn't everyone have affairs in their society? I find it interesting that when we meet Stefan Arkadyovich's friend Levin that Levin's half brother has a half brother that's also Levin's half brother. Doesn't that insinuate one shared parent with 3 separate parents of the opposite sex? If that's normal for this society, it's no wonder that he doesn't feel that what he's done is wrong.


Trisha I read Anna K some years ago and really loved it! It felt like reading a soap opera. The only issue I had (and I have had this with other Russian lit), was that everyone had similar names and nicknames which, especially in the beginning, made it a little confusing. Still, an excellent novel and I'm looking forward to seeing the movie!


message 14: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy I've made some changes to the opening message for the Anna Karenina topic. Hopefully, it will come in handy to keep various links and information there to refer back to as you read as needed. It includes the following sections:
*The Book
*The Author
*The Movie
*Historical Pre-Reading
*Character Cheat Sheet
*When to Read
*Spoilers (how to avoid them)
*Book Club Questions

I'll keep a running list of book club questions there and add to them as you come up with more questions to ask the group.

How's the reading coming along? I'm at 10%. Tolstoy wrote this originally as a serial story. It definitely does feel like I've stepped into a television series what with the level of details such as what food was consumed in the restaurant and which dances were danced at the party. I think I might want to see one of the mini-series created from this book more than I would a 2-hour movie which certainly couldn't pack everything in.


William Dearth | 2 comments The book is great and the author is awesome. I have not seen the latest movie(though I plan to)but I have seen at least three other versions with my favorite being the 1985 version with Bisset and Reeve. Oddly enough, that version seems to be the most difficult one for me to find.

I find books such as these are best read in the winter (in cold climates anyway) and in large chunks to maintain a semblance of continuity.


message 16: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy William wrote: "The book is great and the author is awesome. I have not seen the latest movie(though I plan to)but I have seen at least three other versions with my favorite being the 1985 version with Bisset and ..."

Oh, nice. A connoisseur of Anna Karenina! You'll have to let us know how the latest movie version compares to the 1985 one.

There are definitely books better read in the cold. I tend to always have a few winter-themed to-be-read books set by for snowy and icy days. I got to a blustery scene in my reading today and felt that the weather outside was all wrong for it.


message 17: by Amy (last edited Dec 09, 2012 11:40AM) (new) - added it

Amy Part 1: Question 4
"And here people purposefully let their nails grow as long as they will, and link on small saucers by way of studs, so that they can do nothing with their hands." Are you familiar with any other traditions similar to this one to indicate a person's privileged status?

Part 1: Question 5
"But that's just the aim of civilization -- to make everything a source of enjoyment." Do you agree? Is it a sign that a portion of society is more "civilized" when their main pursuit is enjoyment rather than work?

Part 1: Question 6
"All the profits of labor, on which they might improve their position, and gain leisure for themselves, and after that education, all the surplus values are taken from them by the capitalists. And society's so constituted that the harder they work, the greater the profit of the merchants and landowners, while they stay beast of burden to the end." Do you think that communism was an inevitable end result in Russia considering the lower class feeling that they were still being exploited by the upper class despite their emancipation from serfdom?


message 18: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy Since this is the first time we've done a book club read here and this is an especially long book, I'm dividing the discussion board into parts so that people can join in the discussion more easily depending upon where they are in the book. This topic is for pre-reading and Part 1 of the book only.


Jessica Mary wrote: "I also surprised that the first four chapters have been about Anna Karenina's family when she is the main character. I would have thought she would appear much sooner.
..."


I think Tolstoy does this for a reason. He's using all of those other characters as a contrast to Anna. I think the fact that he waits so long is that he really, really wants to drive the point home that our exercise here is to compare everyone to Anna.


Jessica Amy wrote: " Levin's half brother has a half brother that's also Levin's half brother. Doesn't that insinuate one shared parent with 3 separate parents of the opposite sex? If that's normal for this society, it's no wonder that he doesn't feel that what he's done is wrong. ..."

I hadn't thought of that! How clever! And now that you mention it, I think you're right. This must be another clue that affairs were common at that time in that society.


message 21: by Elena (new) - added it

Elena Bertrand (elenabertrand) Happy new year to all!


message 22: by Wavedancer (new) - added it

Wavedancer  | 1 comments Hi all,

It appears I have joined this group a little too late as everyone has completed reading Anna Karenina...This will be my next book...I have always wanted to read Leo Tolstoy. This is my opportuninty and then treat myself to seeing the movie. Hoping to join the discussions and receive future notifications for the next book


message 23: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy Wavedancer wrote: "Hi all,

It appears I have joined this group a little too late as everyone has completed reading Anna Karenina...This will be my next book...I have always wanted to read Leo Tolstoy. This is my opp..."


I think all the discussions ended here. Nobody followed to the 2nd part of the book to discuss with me. And I'm still stuck in the 2nd part of the book. I'm still happy to discuss with you!!!!


back to top

unread topics | mark unread


Books mentioned in this topic

Anna Karenina (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Leo Tolstoy (other topics)