Thursday, February 13, 2014

Anna Karenina: review

Author: Leo Tolstoy (translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads Summary: Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endure the hypocrisies of society. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel's seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness.
            While previous versions have softened the robust, and sometimes shocking, quality of Tolstoy's writing, Pevear and Volokhonsky  have produced a translation true to his powerful voice. This authoritative edition, which received the PEN Translation Prize and was an Oprah Book Club™ selection, also includes an illuminating introduction and explanatory notes. Beautiful, vigorous, and eminently readable, this Anna Karenina will be the definitive text for fans of the film and generations to come.

My Review:
Yes, it's a very long book. But I am going to write a very short review, because it would be too hard to write everything for everyone in there. I'll keep it simple. It's taken me like five months of on and off reading, so much of my first impressions I don't remember..

What Anna Karenina reminds me of, is if you mashed all the Austen books together into one storyline. And then made it Russian. And then added a whole lot of philosophical stuff.

Also this book is just as much about Levin, as of Anna. So maybe it should be called "Anna and Levin: all the shit that happens to them and their families." wow that would be an excellent title actually. Very accurate. Anna I really despised, maybe only second to Scarlet O'Hara in all my reading, and Levin is one of my favorite characters I've ever read. 

What struck me about Levin most, was his avant-garde way of the thinking. (from my small knowledge of any kind of history) Levin had so many question about the world, his faith, his existence. Much of it paralleled to Anna's problems and thoughts, but they only really meet up a handful of times throughout the story. He took the high road, not letting all his doubts about life screw him up, just creating stimulating conversation with his peers. Levin's also a working-class man. Or perhaps somewhere between that and rich, because he's neither. He's passionate about anything he does, anyone he loves. I admired that greatly, Levin working in the fields alongside his commoner workers, things like that. Always on track with his bookkeeping, caring about his household staff in the country. Great character development by the end there, too; nice resolution.

Anna heads down a darker path, but I don't think it was only because of who she was. (she might have been naturally a bit mental, too, I do not doubt.) Her circumstances are so effed up; a woman who has a lasting affair (and ends up with a child) when divorce isn't possible, and her husband can't even decide if he despises her or not. Hm maybe I hated him more than her. Now the affair…ee? affairee? Alexi Vronsky. What an awful person. I never felt comfortable around him. He is flighty and selfish and immature in every way. I think he loves Anna in his own way…but I can't see anyone ever being his friend. That's harsh, but bad vibes from the dude.

(I wish I had the patience to talk about all the awesome characters but I really don't want to.)

Even though there are so many characters to keep track of, and each with multiple names and nicknames, I found it extremely enjoyable and satisfactory to see a name and actually remember who it is, and who they're related to. By a third of the way, maybe sooner than that, I didn't have to refer back to the glossary anymore.

If you're looking for a classic to cross off your list, I highly recommend Anna Karenina, most specifically the edition translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. The writing is absolutely enchanting, and I bookmarked many passages so I could go back and read them just to admire how simple scenes were described.

1 comment:

  1. I agree! This was such and enchanting and captivating book! Glad you liked it too :)