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Anna Karenina
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May 2013- Anna Karenina > Part 1, Chapter 1-34

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Karena (karenafagan) Please keep your discussion to chapters 1-34. Spoilers will be contained to these chapters so beware!


Jessica | 464 comments Part I really lets you dive into the world, culture, society of Russia in this time period. I have a strong loyalty to Levin. He, quickly, became my favorite character because he is a lot like myself. The love he has for his farm and lifestyle is beautiful, as well as Tolstoy's writing to describe it.

Anna I want to hold at a distance. I kept not wanting to like her (because of what the story is about) but couldn't help myself. In the first Part she is so sweet, carries herself with grace, and knows how to win anyone over with good conversation. She is one of those women you just want to have a cup of coffee or tea with and talk the day away.

Vronksy....I see that name and I turn 5 shades of red. He just one big ball of lust.

I found it peculiar that Dolly, in her situation with Stepan, was not the victim in this society, or so it seemed. Anna comes in to rescue the marriage and help Dolly realize she should stay with her husband? Difference in culture and time period. Due to this, I think i need to learn a bit more about the way this worked. Anyone have some knowledge about Russia? Or, would it kind of be like the 50s and 60s in America? Men were not seen as successful in the business world unless they had a mistress.


Angel Serrano | 131 comments What attracks me the most is how Tolstoi can picture secondary persona's with very little words, like Korsunsky (40 years old child) or Countess Nordston (dry, yellow woman, sickly and nervous, with black shining eyes). It leaves with the feeling that you know several Korsunskys and many Nordstons.


LaLaLa Laura  (laurabhoffman) Jessica wrote: "Part I really lets you dive into the world, culture, society of Russia in this time period. I have a strong loyalty to Levin. He, quickly, became my favorite character because he is a lot like myse..."

Agreed re: Anna. I loved watching her and Dolly's friendship throughout the novel. It was very touching how they understood each other and cared for each other.


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holly rose | 41 comments Jessica, I feel the same way. I don't know anything about that era in Russia, but I think comparing it to the American 50s would be a somewhat accurate description.

I'm not surprised that Anna agreed to help Alexi out and talk Dolly into staying with him, after all that's her brother (regardless of what a jerk he is. Apparently she's not much different from him). I don't know why, but I was a bit surprised (in a "you let him have it!" type of way) that Dolly verbally expressed her anger to her husband. Maybe because of the time period?

So far, I love Levin and his lifestyle as well. I was hurt that Kitty turned him away, but I'm now realizing that he may be too good for her.

Vronksy...he's a tenacious ass! (Possibly) seeing that Anna is attracted to him keeps Vronsky going back for more.

I have been so busy that I haven't been reading much so I'm looking forward to continuing reading this. Plus, I think I'm the only person on this planet who really doesn't know this story!!


Susan Purcell | 32 comments Holly rose,
I THOUGHT I knew this story until I actually read the book, and I've had several people, when I told them I was reading Anna K give me the "huh?" face. So you're not alone on this planet :) And I agree with your opinoin of Vronsky!
Susan


Anil (loykalina) | 79 comments I don't know how it worked in Russia back then, but women expected and encouraged in my country, Turkey, to close their eyes on their husbands' mischiefs. Of course not all women did that or have been doing that, but many did or have been doing for several reasons.

First of all, they aren't well-educated or they lack of skills. That lessens their chances to be employed so that they would not be financially dependant on their husbands.

Secondly, men are considered the bread-winner, but women are, for a lack of better word, the tie that gather the family together. Therefore they are "advised" not to get divorced for sake of protecting the family.

Third reason is a bit repulsive. Female virginity is still a taboo here, which loses its importance. It is still important, though. However, majority of divorced women are considered an easy way to indulge in sexual intercourse. They are called as "open gates". (No pun intended) In some part of the country, they are considered as the epicentre of the mischief. They are gossiped about and somehow become outcasts. Many women bear with their husbands.

I think it is the second reason for Dolly. Because, the state of the children and the house imply that Stephen couldn't perform domestic tasks efficiently. The children's situation would worsen.

I have no favourite character, yet. I think Nicholas Levin is the closest to call as the fave character followed by his brother Constantine Levin. Kitty would be the third one.

I am on 27th chapter of the part 1, though. I'll attempt to make a better observation and write a better post.


Karen (twizelkaren) Part I down, and I am hooked. I recently finished War and Peace, and was a bit hesitant to dive into another monster novel so soon, but so far am glad I did.

I love the complexity of Tolstoy's lead characters. There are no perfect heroes (or heroines). But rather they are all somehow struggling with life and finding their way through it. Saying that, I felt in War and Peace that he didn't really get the female characters. They all seemed to be either "pretty but silly", or "manipulative and schemeing - out to trap good men".

I suspect Kitty is an example of the first and perhaps her mother the second? However, Anna I am finding interesting and showing signs of a bit more depth and humanity.

(I also am completely unaware of what happens in this story, and have never seen a movie version either).


Alana (alanasbooks) | 208 comments I read this one a few months ago and I enjoy reading what other people think of it. I'll look forward to everyone's comments as you go along. :)


Jessica | 464 comments Anil wrote: "I don't know how it worked in Russia back then, but women expected and encouraged in my country, Turkey, to close their eyes on their husbands' mischiefs. Of course not all women did that or have b..."

Thank you for the insight. I wondered about some of those family matters and all. You answered all of my questions and feel safe in saying/agreeing with you that, that was how things were in Russia.

While it is something expected in cultures of this nature, I still wish something better and happier for Dolly. Although her children to fill that void for her. Her interactions with her children always bring a smile to my face and give some hope/peace for her.


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MiA (mirhershelf) In Egypt we have this famous movie called "My Father on the Tree". It's plot is simple, a father tries to rescue his young son from the night life of hookers, drinking and parties after a shattered love affair, and ends up saving his son but entangled himself in the same wild night life. I guess it's the same case with Anna. She went to Moscow to save her brother's marriage from falling apart due to his mischief convincing Dolly to remain a dutiful wife, but she ends up entangled in a love affair herself that shatters her life around her.

The social setting described by Tolstoy shows that the same mischief is looked at differently, depending on who did it. If a man, then it's okay to look the other way, it's business as usual. But be it a woman, everyone starts judging. I believe pointing this out was why Tolstoy started the story with Oblonsky's (Anna's brother) love affair. A mischief is a mischief. Adultery is adultery. Be it a man or a woman, since neither Oblonsky nor Anna tried to fix their marriages or even knew something was wrong with it until someone intriguing entered the picture. But because a woman is supposed to tie the family together and a man is the family's bread winner, as mentioned in earlier posts, it made Anna's position unjustly all the more worse.
As for favorites, Constantine Levin wins the race. I like him even more than innocent Kitty. Right next to him comes the prince Shcherbatsky, the witty old man.

In praise of the novel and its writer, I should state that I've never read a story so eloquently put as this one. A real superb masterpiece of eloquence.


CassieV This is a re-read for me, as I read this in high school. Reading at 16 then again at 28 (and married with children), I'm definitely understanding more of what's going on in the lives of the characters. In order to avoid spoiling things for those who haven't read it, I'll just say that I'm seeing a lot of foreshadowing that is really interesting.

As it was mentioned above, there doesn't seem to be any character that isn't flawed so far. Even Anna, who seems very likable has her moments where I feel like she's playing on the feelings of others. She plays hot and cold with her nieces and nephews, then at the ball it seems like she only halfway tries to discourage Vronsky, and really in the end likes the attention. I don't know that I can blame her for that, though, especially after the brief glimpse Tolstoy gives of her home life at the end of part one.

I'm looking forward to digging into part two :)


James | 10 comments I must admit I enjoyed part 1 more than I thought I would. I struggled with war and peace last year and I expected to find this a bit of a slog. I think the difference with the start of Anna Karenina and the start of war and peace is the characters are introduced at a gentler pace. Even though Stepan has no guilt for what he's done, only that he got caught, there is still something appealing about him. Levin was the most likeable character, he's the only one who cares about something other than himself. I admired Dollys initial reaction to discovering her husband was cheating, but felt sorry for her for not being able to go through with it. I wonder if that is why Stepan couldn't suppress his smile, did he know that there wasn't anything she could do about it? I haven't made my mind up about Anna yet. Look forward to part 2.


Jessica | 464 comments CassieV wrote: "This is a re-read for me, as I read this in high school. Reading at 16 then again at 28 (and married with children), I'm definitely understanding more of what's going on in the lives of the charac..."

Oh my goodness, the foreshadowing gets even better throughout the book.


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Anil (loykalina) | 79 comments I've just finished the first part. I simply loved it and can't wait to start reading the second part. It was astonishing to realise that the first part could have been a short story on its own without losing its meaning.

What was striking for me was to realise the word game in Darya and Catherine's nicknames. Catherine's nickname sounds like kitten; and indeed, her preference Vronsky (for some reason it rings me the word "wrong") to Lenin: Cats prefer better homes and food. Ostensibly, Vronsky is better in deed and appearance than Lenin--however, the reverse is true. Vronsky is wrapped in a better package and he enchants others with his gaiety to believe that he can offer better things. It is not surprising that a person whose nickname resembles to kitten is dragged by this savoury package.

Is it not possible to read Dolly as doll-y, having qualities of a doll? She is like a doll indeed. As a doll does, she charms her husband in the beginning with her youth and beauty, and makes him believe that he can play with her forever, but won't be able to be fed up with her. However, he gets used to her and she loses her charm in time. Then he starts looking for new toys that will attract him. Once he finds one, he distances himself from his old doll. He is aware that the doll won't be going anywhere. He can find her at home when he is back. He knows that he can play with her, albeit reluctantly, whenever he is fed up with his new toys and he is in search for a new one. I am not sure if that makes sense, but I got that impression. (You should forgive me if it doesn't, because it is 03:38 a.m. here and I had little sleep)

There was another question in my mind while reading the first part: would there be a change in the meaning if we replaced Dolly with any women? By any women, I mean women in general rather than a specific women. The answer was unfortunately no. This answer suggests that Dolly is not an independent character but a personification of a woman model in patriarchy, because she occupies several pages, but there is no single trait that makes her unique. In other words, she is a significantly insignificant character.


Angel Serrano | 131 comments I am impressed, Anil!


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Anil (loykalina) | 79 comments Thank you, Angel! :-)


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holly rose | 41 comments Anil wrote: "I've just finished the first part. I simply loved it and can't wait to start reading the second part. It was astonishing to realise that the first part could have been a short story on its own with..."

Amazing! And that is why I love this group. Anil, I would NEVER have picked up on the nicknames and what they represent. Thank you for your insight!


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holly rose | 41 comments Susan wrote: "Holly rose,
I THOUGHT I knew this story until I actually read the book, and I've had several people, when I told them I was reading Anna K give me the "huh?" face. So you're not alone on this plane..."


HAHAHA!! When I told someone I was reading this she mentioned the ending & I yelled WHAT??!! She was beyond surprised that I didn't know know the ending.


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Mary | 6 comments I am intrigued by the way the characters feel powerless in their own lives--unable to control their destinies. The phrase "what's to be done, what's to be done?" is repeated by several characters. They live incredible lives yet connection to their fates seems quite tenuous.


Susan Purcell | 32 comments Anil wrote: "I've just finished the first part. I simply loved it and can't wait to start reading the second part. It was astonishing to realise that the first part could have been a short story on its own with..."

That is a really interesting take on a detail in the work, and holds up pretty well for the English translation. However, I would say whatever comparisons you found were probably not Tolstoy's intention, considering the original text was Russian (and though I don't know the russian words for kitten or doll, I don't thing they "sound like" our engilsh words) but that just goes to show you what a great writer Tolstoy was. He can reach into his readers' imaginations even without the power of his natural language.

Part of the reason I mention this is because I read an older translaiton of War and Peace first and was so impressed with the craftsmanship that I read Anna K, and frankly, couldn't find a translation that seemed to have the same mastery in the writing. Is anyone else feeling like the translations are too . . . modern? (for lack of a better word)


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Anil (loykalina) | 79 comments Taking into account that how aristocrats behaved in Russia back then, imitating British or French aristocracy, I wouldn't be surprised if Tolstoy had deliberately nicknamed Darya Alexandrovna Oblonskaya as Dolly as it might suggest in English. They sometimes talk with each other in English or French and consider it as a sign of being cultivated. We read characters reading books in English. Why should not those people nickname each other in another language?


Alana (alanasbooks) | 208 comments That's a good point, Anil. I know when I visited Mexico a lot of people would make jokes in English phrases a lot like Americans do in Spanish and they would have English nicknames occasionally, so that makes sense.


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Lawson | 2 comments This is the first Tolstoy novel I've read, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I've been enjoying it – it's no small task for a work from such a different time and place to captivate.

The one challenge for me, so far, is to see the characters as I think they're meant to be seen. For instance, Anna's brother is supposed to be universally likeable, but he strikes me as boorish. Similarly, Anna is supposed (I think) to be charming, but, aside from her genuine warmth, she seems fairly thoughtless – for instance, her encouragement (or, at least, non-dissuasion) of Vronsky at the ball, done at Kitty's social peril, seems fairly self-involved and jerky to me.

On a similar note, I think Levin is supposed to be admirable in his love for Kitty, but he doesn't "love" her – she happens to occupy the pedestal he has set up.

All that said, I do feel connected to the characters and interested in what's happening to them. Considering the substantial gap between 19th century aristocratic Russian society and the world I live in, that's a remarkable testament to Tolstoy's skill.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 208 comments Those are all good insights Lawson and I would comment on them except a lot of those will develop throughout the rest of the novel. That's one of the things that is so compelling about this novel...it's not so much the actions of two people and the consequences, but the emotional and social development of many of the characters as they grow or fall as people in their society.


Susan Purcell | 32 comments Anil wrote: "Taking into account that how aristocrats behaved in Russia back then, imitating British or French aristocracy, I wouldn't be surprised if Tolstoy had deliberately nicknamed Darya Alexandrovna Oblon..."

I hadn't really thought about that. I knew you guys would be good for me!


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Anil (loykalina) | 79 comments I should thank you actually. It was a thought-provoking question. I hope my wording in my reply wasn't offensive.


Christine This is the first time I have read any Tolstoy and I found Part I to be a page turner. The characters are so interesting. Currently, I find Vronsky a cad and I am also disappointed in Anna. I do not find Anna as wonderful as everyone around her does. Although, I have a feeling that my views on both of these characters will change as I get to know them better. Levin (like other posts) is my favorite character because he sees through the "theatrics" of the elite and loves his land. Kitty, in her youth, does not see him for the value that he is! I looking forward to the next section.


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Ryan Bassette As with most of you, I also identified and empathized most with Levin. I got the sense that Kitty is eventually going to come to the realization that he is 'the one'...likely too late for her to do anything about it of course (I am not familiar with this novel beyond reading part I so I have NO idea whether this is the case).

There is more than a hint of the 'girls like the bad boy' thing at play here; Vronsky has the one thing Levin lacks: assertiveness, confidence. Kitty likes Vronsky precisely because she knows, albeit on a level buried just below her consciousness, that Vronsky doesn't care...likewise she finds Levin's caring nauseating.

Regardless, each of the characters are fairly familiar archetypes, but rendered unique by Tolstoy's storytelling and the setting etc.

I'm finding this to be a much easier read than I was expecting (had a miserable time with Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot"...liked it but took a year and got lost a bit); I don't feel a huge cultural gap but, to the contrary, find these characters to be immediately familiar and relatable (the Russian 'flavor' is mitigated largely by the fact that this class of Russian society seems to have actively pursued a sort of pan-European blandness).

Look forward to reading further and appreciate the discussion thus far.

P.S. The above 'comment' from Susan appears to be pretty blatant spam...


Alana (alanasbooks) | 208 comments Ryan wrote: "P.S. The above 'comment' from Susan appears to be pretty blatant spam...
"


Agreed


Karena (karenafagan) Alana wrote: "Ryan wrote: "P.S. The above 'comment' from Susan appears to be pretty blatant spam...
"

Agreed"


I agree with you guys. I'm going to delete it. Thanks for pointing it out.


Danaë | 89 comments A lot of good insights to ponder! I hadn't caught on to the nicknames of the sisters at all.

I am pleasantly surprised how enjoyable a read this book is. I had expected to find it dragging, although I am not sure why, since along with several others here I do not know much about the actual story.

I love the background details that flesh out the story. A favorite example is the skating scene, where an attendant bores holes in Levin's boot heels for the ice skates. Sounds like the skates being used were similar to these. http://hockeygods.com/images/5936-Ice...

If only Kitty could have taken a poll of this group, I imagine we would all have given our votes to Levin over Vronsky. :) I liked how Vronsky is first described through Levin's eyes at the dinner party. The way he sees only the good in his rival tells us as much or more about him than Vronsky. I'm trying not to completely detest Vronsky, but it's a struggle.

I don't have much feeling for Anna yet. I am looking forward to learning more about her character in the next section.


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Lisa (dagny115) | 10 comments I have totally a different view, I really like Vronsky. He's not trying to deceive Kitty or anybody, he just is who he is unapologetically - he doesn't see anything wrong with being a flirty bachelor and doesn't get why there would be something wrong with it. And at the end of Part 1, it's clear that in his circles in Petersburg it's completely normal. I think the bigger issue is that Kitty and the princess are so surprisingly uncultured outside their own circles that they expect everyone sees the world exactly as they see it. Everything Kitty and her mom were excited about they made up in their own heads. They didn't see who he really is. If he were a cad as many people think, wouldn't he continue to flirt with Kitty at the ball? Just to string her along? As soon as he sees Anna he just moves on because that's where his passion goes. To me the terrible person is the one who would've secretly felt a lot for Anna, but would've still strung Kitty along to have something going on the backburner. Anxious to hear your thoughts!

This is my first time reading this book (or any Tolstoy, I've read Dosteovsky) and I'm loving it! And for whatever reason I have no background whatsoever on this story, so I have absolutely no idea what's going to come next or how it's going to end. A pretty exciting (and new) experience for me. :-)


Jessica | 464 comments Alex wrote: "Lisa wrote: "To me the terrible person is the one who would've secretly felt a lot for Anna, but would've still strung Kitty along to have something going on the backburner. Anxious to hear your th..."


For me, I guess I would be considered culturally conservative. I am not a fan of men or women who act like Vronsky no matter what society holds as acceptable. I believe it devalues a person and their heart to treat love/affection/another being that. It puts more focus on an ego than on the soul.


Danaë | 89 comments Lisa wrote: "I have totally a different view, I really like Vronsky. He's not trying to deceive Kitty or anybody, he just is who he is unapologetically - he doesn't see anything wrong with being a flirty bache..."

Oh good, I love a character discussion! I agree that Kitty and her mother were reading into Vronsky's behavior intentions that were not there. However, if you're accusing them of seeing things solely through the lens of expected behavior in their circle, isn't Vronsky guilty of the same? It seems that he had more opportunity to contrast Moscow Society expectations to his Petersburg bachelor behaviors than they did. After all he was the traveler, and presumably had contact with many other Moscow families.

To me Vronsky comes across as very selfish. He delights in having "sweet, innocent Society girl" Kitty fall in love with him with no care to her heartbreak when their flirtation ends. What is worse, he "felt himself to be a conquorer" when she turns away a serious suitor because of that love. At that point it seems he would realize what she must be expecting from him, even if he had been blind to it before. I agree stringing her along would have been worse, but simply dropping her like a hot potato when Anna caught his eye is almost as bad in my mind. He definitely knew of her love, if not her dreams of marriage. The only good that I can see for Kitty in the quick end is that she was saved from wasting any more time on him, and can possibly repair things with Levin - pretty clearly my hope for the next part of the book, haha!

Alex wrote: "I'm curious as to whether a modern reader would sympathise with him if the points of view were reversed. Are we really more culturally conservative than 19th century Petersburg, or are there too many broken hearts on this forum? "

Hmmm, good questions. I think there are enough parts from his point of view for me to say that my opinion would be unchanged. My main problem with Vronsky was that knowledge of Kitty's love and increasing dependence on him did not create any sort of consideration for her future feelings. I have just as much problem with a woman treating a man that way as the reverse.

I wouldn't generally describe myself as conservative, but we're all patchwork quilts, and in some areas I am more conservative than others I suppose. I think we all have an obligation to treat each other with care especially when deep feelings are involved.


CassieV Lisa wrote: "I have totally a different view, I really like Vronsky. He's not trying to deceive Kitty or anybody, he just is who he is unapologetically - he doesn't see anything wrong with being a flirty bache..."

I don't really like Vronsky so far, but I do agree with you on the point of him being true to his personality. I've been around people that remind me of Vronsky as depicted here and I've found them to be somewhat self-involved. Intentionally or not, they follow what interests them with little to no thought of how it affects others. Even with Anna, he seems to pursue her even though she does show signs off and on of being uncomfortable with the attention.


@Alex: I don't think it's cultural conservatism so much as it is expecting a certain amount of personal respect, as Danae said above. I do think it's a theme that you do see often in contemporary culture, too. Most chick-flicks seem to be written along the line of boy jilts girl, girl finds her own self worth, girl find better boy (or occasionally boy reforms). I don't know if that will be the conclusion for Kitty, but that story-type is definitely out there. But in those movies no one (that I know of) roots for the cad.


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Lisa (dagny115) | 10 comments Danaë wrote: "Lisa wrote: "I have totally a different view, I really like Vronsky. He's not trying to deceive Kitty or anybody, he just is who he is unapologetically - he doesn't see anything wrong with being a..."

I think that's a really great point; Vronsky was the more experienced traveler and more worldly, and for that you'd think he'd have been a bit more aware of the cultural differences and what he was doing. But he never made her any promises or even the allusions of promises, and I don't think he expected that she was throwing away serious offers in his favor (at least until he found out she was). And the part about feeling "the conqueror"... it's not pretty, but he's obviously an accomplished person who likes attention and likes flirting, and I think that feeling wasn't his intention, but I think it's a pretty natural reaction. What would've been really telling of his character is what would've happened if he hadn't suddenly seen Anna - if he had stayed in Moscow, how he would've handled his relationship with Kitty going forward.

@Carrie & @Alex: There are soo many chick flicks out there, and in those movies, nobody roots for the cad. But there are other movies where we do - thinking of a movie like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, there's a point after his breakup with Sarah where Jason Segal goes on a sex binge and sleeps with a different girl every day. If you made a movie about one of any of those girls, she'd be crying about what a cad he was for not calling her. But because the movie is about Jason Segal, you're rooting for him because you know the story behind why he's doing it. To Alex's point, it's all about point of view. And right now our point of view is all Kitty's - who, realistically, is only good and pure and perfect in our eyes because we saw her first through the eyes of Levin who's in love with her and thinks that way of her.

On a different note, I loved Levin's meeting with his brother; I found it so interesting. Especially that it took place right after the dinner at Kitty's house with high society. I loved watching that Levin has all this uneasiness being around his brother and how weird he thinks he is with these outrageous ideas and odd mannerisms, and that's exactly the way the high society people think about Levin when he's at dinner parties.

I haven't decided yet what I'm rooting for in him and Kitty - honestly I didn't really like that he was in love with her to begin with after the preface of his love was that she was the last of her sisters left not married. And she's all into balls and society life, does he really think she'll be happy in the country? But I really like Levin, so I'm hoping she either turns out to be a less shallow person than I think she is, or he moves on and finds something better.


Courtney Hello everyone!

I honestly have no idea about plot except for what I have read in Part 1. I found it interesting how often Tolstoy points out colors, which seem to be symbolic.

For example, before the ball Kitty remarked on how lovely Anna would look in Lilac. Later on during the ball scene

"Anna was not in lilac, as Kitty had so urgently wished, but in black, low-cut, velvet gown, showing her full throat and shoulders, that looked as though carved in old ivory, and her rounded arms, with tiny, slender wrists."

Anna's black dress identifies her as a temptress, which is later eluded to in chapter 30 when Vronsky admits his love for her. While Kitty wore a pink dress, representing her innocence.

There are two more mentions of lilac with in Part 1.

-When Levin returns to the country, he finds out his prized cow has given birth.

"The cowhouse for the more valuable cows was just behind the house. Walking across the yard, passing a snowdrift by the lilac tree, he went into the cowhouse"

-And in Chapter 34, when Vronsky visits his friend Petritsky, he meets Baroness Shilton, who is described as

"resplendent in a lilac satin gown, and filling the whole room, like a canary, with her Parisian chatter"

I'm not sure what lilac is supposed to represent. I just felt it was worth mentioning, although I might be reading too much between the lines. Maybe Tolstoy's favorite color was lilac :P


Alana (alanasbooks) | 208 comments I hadn't noticed about the colors, other than Anna's black dress, Courtney. I hadn't thought about the lilac... what is lilac supposed to represent? Does it depend which culture you're from? Does he mention other colors frequently like that?


Courtney Alana wrote: "I hadn't noticed about the colors, other than Anna's black dress, Courtney. I hadn't thought about the lilac... what is lilac supposed to represent? Does it depend which culture you're from? Does h..."

So far Alana I have only noticed lilac as a reoccurring color. I even did a word search through my ebook and found it occurs another 7 times later on in the book! (I hope that doesn't count as a spoiler...)

I have done a bit of research on the color/flower lilac and here is what I have found:

-Purple lilacs often symbolize first love, while in some contexts purple lilacs can suggest protection.

-Lilacs are sometimes said to stand for confidence and sometimes said to symbolize pride or youthful innocence.

-In Greece, Lebanon, and Cyprus the lilac is seen as an Easter flower

-According to Greek mythology, Pan, the god of the forests and fields, became enthralled with the nymph Syringa. Syringa was frightened because Pan had been chasing her through the forests. She turned herself into a fragrant flowering bush to escape his advances. AKA: a lilac bush.

-Like the color black, lilac can be associated with mourning.

I'm not sure what the meaning for the lilac is in Anna Karenina, but I'm hoping Tolstoy will throw me a bone. I have not noticed any other reoccurring colors but I will keep my eyes open. :)


message 41: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (dagny115) | 10 comments My thought of the lilac was that it's more of a girl's color, a color of maybe innocence, but definitely frivolity and gaiety. Kitty, when telling Anna what she should wear, naturally thinks to that end because that's where she's at in her life. But the description of Anna in black definitely did not invoke thoughts of "temptress" for me in any way - I got the impression of simple elegance and modesty, and with the few white accents I was even reminded of Puritanism. When Kitty sees her at the ball dressed in that way she says she can't picture her dressed any other way - I think it's a reminder to her that Anna is an elegant, modest woman who is older and at a different point in her life than Kitty is. I also think with the Countess later being dressed in lilac, Tolstoy intended to contrast her with Anna - she's all gaiety and French chatter and she's having an extramarital affair - completely the opposite of Anna.


Daniel Clark I was touched and impressed at the simple and beautiful writing in Ch4 about Dolly and Stepan's emotions and interaction when discussing his adultery. Dolly can't seem to pack up and go to her mother's. The plea for mercy and forgiveness, The child shoulder, the tears. I think its so true to how a real couple interacts.


message 43: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bkbsmiles) | 5 comments I was excited to join this group but did not know if I would ever actually own a book that you were having a group read about and time it right. We actually do have this book as my dad read it about a year ago. I thought it was too ambitious for me to tackle. Maybe I will give it a try but I have a lot of reading to do before I do.


message 44: by Angie Downs (new) - added it

Angie Downs I had a slow start to this book, but after I got going, Part One moved smoothly, and I felt invested in the characters. I feel bad for both Kitty and Anna. It is obvious that Anna truly feels conflicted about her feelings toward Vronsky, and did not want to step in between Kitty and her feelings for Vronsky. Although I feel bad for Kitty, I feel much worse for Levin. He seems like such a nice man who loves Kitty so much, and Kitty didn't know what she had until it was gone. I hope the best for the both of them.


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