Anna Karenina (oprah #5): (penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Paperback | May 31, 2004

byLeo TolstoyTranslated byRichard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky

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The must-have Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of one of the greatest Russian novels ever written

Described by William Faulkner as the best novel ever written and by Fyodor Dostoevsky as “flawless,” 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 thereby exposes herself to 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 qualities 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. This Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition also features French flaps and deckle-edged paper.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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From the Publisher

The must-have Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of one of the greatest Russian novels ever written Described by William Faulkner as the best novel ever written and by Fyodor Dostoevsky as “flawless,” Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy u...

Count Leo Tolstoy was born on September 9, 1828, in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia. Orphaned at nine, he was brought up by an elderly aunt and educated by French tutors until he matriculated at Kazan University in 1844. In 1847, he gave up his studies and, after several aimless years, volunteered for military duty in the army, serving as a ju...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:864 pages, 8.3 × 5.7 × 1.8 inPublished:May 31, 2004Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143035002

ISBN - 13:9780143035008

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Customer Reviews of Anna Karenina (oprah #5): (penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great Read I loved this book, however it was a little difficult to get into. I toughed it out and finished the book, I am glad I did. I would highly recommend reading.
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from As only the great Russian authors can do This book is dark and beautiful. The story is long and can be difficult to get into but once you do you will see the stark beauty of Anna and Russia.
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic! Without spoiling anything, this book is probably the best book I've ever read.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Russian classic #plumreview An epic novel that richly portrays so many characters with the dual main narratives (Of course the titular Anna Karenina, but with equal weight given to Konstantin Levin).
Date published: 2016-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it What a story! This is one classic that isn't over-rated, unlike War and Peace. The only part I didn't like was the lecture/essay at the end of the book. Anna's brother was my favorite character. Better than Madame Bovary or Jane Austen any day.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Very beautiful book. When I first read this book I honestly couldn,t put it down. Anna has that thing inside every women.
Date published: 2015-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Epic. This book is known as one of the greatest novels in the history of literature and rightly so. I was expecting to hate it. I was expecting to trudge through it. Boy was I wrong! This book was a total page turner aside from a few more uneventful sections. I was expecting to take months to read this, but finished Anna Karenina in 2 weeks.
Date published: 2014-01-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic Translation! This particular translation of Anna Karenina is astounding. Fresh and modern without imposing it's own voice. Definitely my favorite version.
Date published: 2012-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Contributes to a GREAT cause too! Classic book. RED line of books helps fight AIDS and HIV in Africa... to learn more here's a link: http://samaritanmag.com/dracula-little-women-anna-karenina-part-new-red-products-indigo-books
Date published: 2010-11-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Had it's Moments When I decided to take the plunge and read Anna Karenina I was expecting a challenge. And a challenge I got. I found it took me a while to get into it. Once I did I was able to imagine myself there in 19th century Russia. While I agree Tolstoy did an amazing job, and deserves much praise. I think a lot of people will find it difficult to read. Each character is called by more than one name. While the list at the beginning of the book was very helpfull. At somepoints I would still find myself wondering "who was who". There was also a lot of political talk I had a hard time keeping up with. This book is definitly not an easy read. So overall I would only recommend this book to a select few. I really did enjoy the first 600pgs. But the last 200pgs really dragged on for me.
Date published: 2009-10-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Beautiful, Difficult, and Moving J. Peder Zane’s “The Top Ten” is a compilation of 125 individual lists, each from a celebrated writer picking their top ten books of all time. What does this have to do with Tolstoy? Anna Karenina ranked number one on the definitive list. The question is: is it deserving? You’ll have to read it to form your own opinion. The Pevear/ Volokhonsky translation is beautiful and refreshing, and vividly recreates Tolstoy’s text. The story itself is both personal and distant, allowing the reader to engage with the lives of characters while painting a broad landscape of 19th century Russia. In this way, Anna Karenina appeals to a wide audience. It is no doubt epic in scale, literally and figuratively; definitely a triumph. The characters are beautifully flawed, and so human that I sometimes forgot Levin, Anna, and Vronsky were fictional. I dreamt of trains. I found myself sketching ladies on train platforms. I kept thinking “God is so cruel” before checking myself: in this case, god is Tolstoy. I was wholly moved. It was a story to be immersed in, and has all the elements of a literary masterpiece, but does it deserve its position of number one? In my opinion: yes. But would I recommend it to a friend for a guaranteed enjoyable read? No. Its brilliance, for me, was witnessed in brief moments through a shifting fog; I could sense it, but could hardly grasp the entire meaning of what I saw. Much of the historical information went completely over my head. Anna Karenina is not for everyone. However, it is definitely a must read for anyone willing and wanting to come in contact with a type of literary genius which can’t be found in contemporary works.
Date published: 2009-09-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Anna Will Stay With You Forever Anna Karenina is the story of two different members of Russian society in the late 19th century. Anna is the privileged wife of a high government official, a cold and unaffectionate man. She is resigned to being in a loveless marriage and finds joy in her young son, Sergei. One night at the train station, she meets a dashing army officer named Count Alexei Vronsky. The two quickly begin a scandalous affair. Anna is given a choice by her husband - end the affair and stay with her son or leave and never see her son again. The choice Anna makes and its consequences are tragic and highlight the double standard applied to adulterers. Society gave permission for men to have affairs but a woman who had an affair was labeled a harlot and risked never being allowed into "polite" society again, especially if she left her husband. The second character is a rather dull land owner named Konstantin Dmitrievich Levin. He is in love with Kitty, who is in love with Vronsky at the beginning of the novel. After Vronsky leaves her for Anna, Kitty begins to notice Levin’s many noble qualities. Tolstoy uses this character to share his views on the Russian peasantry, society, and economy. These speeches can be rather long and tiring, especially if you don't know (or care about) Russian history. Although Levin is noble in his beliefs, his personality is void of any colour. Don’t let Levin scare you away from this novel. Anna Karenina deserves to be on your must-read list. Anna is one of the most compelling characters in literature, and she will stay with you for a long time. Her story, told masterfully by Tolstoy, is deeply moving in its description of a woman trapped by a society full of double-standards for its female members.
Date published: 2008-10-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I couldn't get into this one Normally I like the Oprah book club selections, but this one was a challenge to finish. The list at the front of the book of all the various names each character went by was used frequently. I don't recommend this one unless you have a personal interest in Russian history.
Date published: 2008-08-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Difficult read This was definitely the hardest book I have ever read. Although I found the plot very interesting, I was completely lost in all the Russian politics in the book. I actually had to put the book down for a few months before going back to finish it and I have never done that with any book before. Still a good story though, and I liked the various stories that were all connected in some way.
Date published: 2008-01-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It's okay I wanted to read this book because I have heard a great deal about it. Anyway, in the beginning it was really interesting up to the part where Anna meets Count Vronsky...and then it just dies out. It just goes TOO much in detail that it gets annoying but I guess some people like that kind of stuff and it's written through every character's point of view, even a dog's! It's okay...it's not as great as I thought it would be. It also focuses on a lot of Russian politics and other issues that were going on around the time the author had written this book so it focuses on a lot on his political views... I wish though that it mainly or only focused on Anna and Vronsky's lives vs the lives of other characters in this novel.
Date published: 2007-06-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book, bad edition I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great read. It is complex and long but if you just get into it and plug through the slow stuff it will get good. The only thing I would tell and person considering this book is to NOT GET THIS EDITION. It was spelling error after grammatical error. Sometimes it got so bad that I had a hard time understanding what was being said and plus saying on the front cover that it is the best love story of all time is so false. Leo Tolstoy is not telling us a love story but rather asking us what love is.
Date published: 2006-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant Having received this book as a gift I was a skeptic, due to its size, of ever getting around to read it. Having never explored much Literature by Russian authors before, I figured Anna Karenina was an excellent place to start. The different stories in the novel parallel one another tied together by common themes and elements, but apart from each other, hold their own, captivating the reader making them want to read on. Tolstoy's characters have unique personalities, and although the names make it slightly confusing, the story is irresistable and the read cannot help but continue. The ups and downs of the different personalities such as Levin or Anna, even Alexi Alexandrovich who is described as awkward and seemingly opposite to the passionate and energetic Anna Karenina make them come alive/ The reader cannot help but feel as they feel through the heartache, fear, and joy. Just when you think when a situation seemed doomed, unable to repair, such as the relationship between Levin and Kitty, and Vronsky (in the beginning), it turns into something completely different. The different elements entwined with the fictional story of the characters: politics, history, economic conditions, and generally the opinion of Russian citizens of the time of both upper and lower classes, adds another layer to the text. If you have the time and patience, and a love for great lituerature, Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is an excellent choice.
Date published: 2006-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Forever Let me begin my review by stating that I do not acclaim myself, an avid reader, I am just a teenager who happened to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls, which made me interested in this book. After picking up this book, it was daughting in sheer volume alone, but once when you start reading the world that Tolstoy creates is like no other. His characters and their stories keep you going through the entire book. It takes place and is written in 1800's Russia, and the world which Anna Karenina lives in, is so beautiful and rich in words that it creates a sense of emotion in the reader that allows for it to be read forever.
Date published: 2006-05-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Bad This book was worse than poor . Tolstoy is suposed to be a great writer so i was looking forward to reading this book. I read a lot and faster than the average person but this book is boring and doesn't flow well. It took me a month to get throught 611pages and i couldn't even finish! It was the first book i disliked so much i couldn't finish in 10 years and I pride myself for being able to get through even 6 pahges of that horrible book.
Date published: 2005-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spiritual Read This book has such a spiritual flow to it. Anna is looking for love and true happiness as most of us are and she can't find it because instead of seeking God who IS love she turns to temporary earthly comfort and passion. Grass always looks greener on the other side. Levin's life relates so closely to Anna, he is also desperately looking for a life worth living, but through hardship and self examination he finds what he is looking for.
Date published: 2005-08-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from anna karenina Definatley a good summer bach read. i can't believe this was written in the 1800s by a man! I've heard of soaps with less plot turns and cheating spouses. It took me a total of three years to read it, and I have been known to read a 300-400 page book in 1sitting (at the most a day) heavy reading to be sure. and not exactly srawberry shortcake but a good read one the less.
Date published: 2005-07-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Overrated Completing this book was a goal for myself. I am an avid reader but I felt like getting through this book was a chore. There plot line took a very long time to get to. The character of Anna Karenina was not the most interesting part of the book...I was more interested in the plot lines surrounding the other characters. Once you get to about the last 100 pages of the book...you get a real shocker....and it's not a good one. I just felt like this book lacked a plot and was a serious bore to try and get through....I will not recommend this book
Date published: 2005-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A true classic Anna Karenina is one of the most interesting books I have read in a while. When I first started, I must admit I was a little intimidated by the size and number of pages of this novel. But by the first page, I was suddenly captivated and enthralled into the story of high society Russian families. At the beginning of the novel, the reader sees Anna, an amazingly beautiful woman with a happy and fulfilled life. As the novel continues, the breakdown of her life is chronicled and the reader can't help but become enthralled and captivated by the storyline. Tolstoy captures so many different emotions in this novel: happy, sad, fulfilled, confused, depressed... And by the end of Anna Karenina everything seems to fall into place. Therefore, Anna Karenina is one novel that readers everywhere should pick up. It is without a doubt a true classic.
Date published: 2004-12-25

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Read from the Book

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.    All was confusion in the Oblonskys' house. The wife had found out that the husband was having an affair with their former French governess, and had announced to the husband that she could not live in the same house with him. This situation had continued for three days now, and was painfully felt by the couple themselves, as well as by all the members of the family and household. They felt that there was no sense in their living together and that people who meet accidentally at any inn have more connection with each other than they, the members of the family and household of the Oblonskys. The wife would not leave her rooms, the husband was away for the third day. The children were running all over the house as if lost; the English governess quarrelled with the housekeeper and wrote a note to a friend, asking her to find her a new place; the cook had already left the premises the day before, at dinner-time; the kitchen-maid and coachman had given notice.    On the third day after the quarrel, Prince Stepan Arkadyich Oblonsky — Stiva, as he was called in society — woke up at his usual hour, that is, at eight o'clock in the morning, not in his wife's bedroom but in his study, on a morocco sofa. He rolled his full, well-tended body over on the springs of the sofa, as if wishing to fall asleep again for a long time, tightly hugged the pillow from the other side and pressed his cheek to it; but suddenly he gave a start, sat up on the sofa and opened his eyes.    `Yes, yes, how did it go?' he thought, recalling his dream. `How did it go? Yes! Alabin was giving a dinner in Darmstadt — no, not in Darmstadt but something American. Yes, but this Darmstadt was in America. Yes, Alabin was giving a dinner on glass tables, yes — and the tables were singing Il mio tesoro, only it wasn't Il mio tesoro but something better, and there were some little carafes, which were also women,' he recalled.    Stepan Arkadyich's eyes glittered merrily, and he fell to thinking with a smile. `Yes, it was nice, very nice. There were many other excellent things there, but one can't say it in words, or even put it into waking thoughts.' And, noticing a strip of light that had broken through the side of one of the heavy blinds, he cheerfully dropped his feet from the sofa, felt for the slippers trimmed with gold morocco that his wife had embroidered for him (a present for last year's birthday), and, following a nine-year-old habit, without getting up, reached his hand out to the place where his dressing gown hung in the bedroom. And here he suddenly remembered how and why he was sleeping not in his wife's bedroom but in his study: the smile vanished from his face, and he knitted his brows.    `Oh, oh, oh! Ohh! ...' he moaned, remembering all that had taken place. And in his imagination he again pictured all the details of his quarrel with his wife, all the hopelessness of his position and, most painful of all, his own guilt.    `No, she won't forgive me and can't forgive me! And the most terrible thing is that I'm the guilty one in it all — guilty, and yet not guilty. That's the whole drama,' he thought. `Oh, oh, oh!' he murmured with despair, recalling what were for him the most painful impressions of this quarrel.    Worst of all had been that first moment when, coming back from the theatre, cheerful and content, holding a huge pear for his wife, he had not found her in the drawing room; to his surprise, he had not found her in the study either, and had finally seen her in the bedroom with the unfortunate, all-revealing note in her hand.    She — this eternally preoccupied and bustling and, as he thought, none-too-bright Dolly — was sitting motionless, the note in her hand, looking at him with an expression of horror, despair and wrath.    `What is this? this?' she asked, pointing to the note.    And, in recalling it, as often happens, Stepan Arkadyich was tormented not so much by the event itself as by the way he had responded to these words from his wife.    What had happened to him at that moment was what happens to people when they are unexpectedly caught in something very shameful. He had not managed to prepare his face for the position he found himself in with regard to his wife now that his guilt had been revealed. Instead of being offended, of denying, justifying, asking forgiveness, even remaining indifferent — any of which would have been better than what he did! — his face quite involuntarily (`reflexes of the brain', thought Stepan Arkadyich, who liked physiology) smiled all at once its habitual, kind and therefore stupid smile.    That stupid smile he could not forgive himself. Seeing that smile, Dolly had winced as if from physical pain, burst with her typical vehemence into a torrent of cruel words, and rushed from the room. Since then she had refused to see her husband.    `That stupid smile is to blame for it all,' thought Stepan Arkadyich.    `But what to do, then? What to do?' he kept saying despairingly to himself, and could find no answer. II Stepan Arkadyich was a truthful man concerning his own self. He could not deceive himself into believing that he repented of his behaviour. He could not now be repentant that he, a thirty-four-year-old, handsome, amorous man, did not feel amorous with his wife, the mother of five living and two dead children, who was only a year younger than he. He repented only that he had not managed to conceal things better from her. But he felt all the gravity of his situation, and pitied his wife, his children and himself. Perhaps he would have managed to hide his sins better from his wife had he anticipated that the news would have such an effect on her. He had never thought the question over clearly, but vaguely imagined that his wife had long suspected him of being unfaithful to her and was looking the other way. It even seemed to him that she, a worn-out, aged, no longer beautiful woman, not remarkable for anything, simple, merely a kind mother of a family, ought in all fairness to be indulgent. It turned out to be quite the opposite.    `Ah, terrible! Ay, ay, ay! terrible!' Stepan Arkadyich repeated to himself and could come up with nothing. `And how nice it all was before that, what a nice life we had! She was content, happy with the children, I didn't hinder her in anything, left her to fuss over them and the household however she liked. True, it's not nice that she used to be a governess in our house. Not nice! There's something trivial, banal, in courting one's own governess. But what a governess!' (He vividly recalled Mlle Roland's dark, roguish eyes and her smile.) `But while she was in our house, I never allowed myself anything. And the worst of it is that she's already ... It all had to happen at once! Ay, ay, ay! But what to do, what to do?'    There was no answer, except the general answer life gives to all the most complex and insoluble questions. That answer is: one must live for the needs of the day, in other words, become oblivious. To become oblivious in dreams was impossible now, at least till night-time; it was impossible to return to that music sung by carafe-women; and so one had to become oblivious in the dream of life.    `We'll see later on,' Stepan Arkadyich said to himself and, getting up, he put on his grey dressing gown with the light-blue silk lining, threw the tasselled cord into a knot, and, drawing a goodly amount of air into the broad box of his chest, went up to the window with the customary brisk step of his splayed feet, which so easily carried his full body, raised the blind and rang loudly. In response to the bell his old friend, the valet Matvei, came at once, bringing clothes, boots, and a telegram. Behind Matvei came the barber with the shaving things.    `Any papers from the office?' Stepan Arkadyich asked, taking the telegram and sitting down in front of the mirror.    `On the table,' Matvei replied, glancing inquiringly, with sympathy, at his master, and, after waiting a little, he added with a sly smile: `Someone came from the owner of the livery stable.'    Stepan Arkadyich said nothing in reply and only glanced at Matvei in the mirror; from their eyes, which met in the mirror, one could see how well they understood each other. Stepan Arkadyich's eyes seemed to ask: `Why are you saying that? as if you didn't know?'    Matvei put his hands in his jacket pockets, thrust one foot out and looked at his master silently, good-naturedly, with a slight smile.    `I told them to come next Sunday and till then not to trouble you or themselves needlessly.' He uttered an obviously prepared phrase.    Stepan Arkadyich understood that Matvei wanted to joke and attract attention to himself. Tearing open the telegram, he read it, guessing at the right sense of the words, which were garbled as usual, and his face brightened.    `Matvei, my sister Anna Arkadyevna is coming tomorrow,' he said, stopping for a moment the glossy, plump little hand of the barber, who was clearing a pink path between his long, curly side-whiskers.    `Thank God,' said Matvei, showing by this answer that he understood the significance of this arrival in the same way as his master, that is, that Anna Arkadyevna, Stepan Arkadyich's beloved sister, might contribute to the reconciliation of husband and wife.    `Alone or with her spouse?' asked Matvei.    Stepan Arkadyich, unable to speak because the barber was occupied with his upper lip, raised one finger. Matvei nodded in the mirror.    `Alone. Shall I prepare the rooms upstairs?'    `Tell Darya Alexandrovna, wherever she decides.'    `Darya Alexandrovna?' Matvei repeated, as if in doubt.    `Yes, tell her. And here, take the telegram, let me know what she says.'    `Testing her out,' Matvei understood, but he said only: `Very well, sir.'    Stepan Arkadyich was already washed and combed and was about to start dressing, when Matvei, stepping slowly over the soft rug in his creaking boots, telegram in hand, came back into the room. The barber was no longer there.    `Darya Alexandrovna told me to inform you that she is leaving. Let him do as he — that is, you — pleases,' he said, laughing with his eyes only, and, putting his hands in his pockets and cocking his head to one side, he looked fixedly at his master.    Stepan Arkadyich said nothing. Then a kind and somewhat pathetic smile appeared on his handsome face.    `Eh? Matvei?' he said, shaking his head.    `Never mind, sir, it'll shape up,' said Matvei.    `Shape up?'    `That's right, sir.'    `You think so? Who's there?' Stepan Arkadyich asked, hearing the rustle of a woman's dress outside the door.    `It's me, sir,' said a firm and pleasant female voice, and through the door peeked the stern, pock-marked face of Matryona Filimonovna, the nanny.    `What is it, Matryosha?' Stepan Arkadyich asked, going out of the door to her.    Although Stepan Arkadyich was roundly guilty before his wife and felt it himself, almost everyone in the house, even the nanny, Darya Alexandrovna's chief friend, was on his side.    `Well, what is it?' he said dejectedly.    `You should go to her, sir, apologize again. Maybe God will help. She's suffering very much, it's a pity to see, and everything in the house has gone topsy-turvy. The children should be pitied. Apologize, sir. No help for it! After the dance, you must pay the ...'    `But she won't receive me ...'    `Still, you do your part. God is merciful, pray to God, sir, pray to God.'    `Well, all right, go now,' said Stepan Arkadyich, suddenly blushing. `Let's get me dressed.' He turned to Matvei and resolutely threw off his dressing gown.    Matvei was already holding the shirt like a horse collar, blowing away something invisible, and with obvious pleasure he clothed the pampered body of his master in it. III After dressing, Stepan Arkadyich sprayed himself with scent, adjusted the cuffs of his shirt, put cigarettes, wallet, matches, a watch with a double chain and seals into his pockets with an accustomed gesture, and, having shaken out his handkerchief, feeling himself clean, fragrant, healthy, and physically cheerful despite his misfortune, went out, springing lightly at each step, to the dining room, where coffee was already waiting for him, and, next to the coffee, letters and papers from the office.    He sat down and read the letters. One was very unpleasant — from a merchant who was buying a wood on his wife's estate. This wood had to be sold; but now, before his reconciliation with his wife, it was out of the question. The most unpleasant thing here was that it mixed financial interests into the impending matter of their reconciliation. And the thought that he might be guided by those interests, that he might seek a reconciliation with his wife in order to sell the wood, was offensive to him.    Having finished the letters, Stepan Arkadyich drew the office papers to him, quickly leafed through two files, made a few marks with a big pencil, then pushed the files away and started on his coffee. Over coffee he unfolded the still damp morning newspaper and began to read it.    Stepan Arkadyich subscribed to and read a liberal newspaper, not an extreme one, but one with the tendency to which the majority held. And though neither science, nor art, nor politics itself interested him, he firmly held the same views on all these subjects as the majority and his newspaper did, and changed them only when the majority did, or, rather, he did not change them, but they themselves changed imperceptibly in him.    Stepan Arkadyich chose neither his tendency nor his views, but these tendencies and views came to him themselves, just as he did not choose the shape of a hat or a frock coat, but bought those that were in fashion. And for him, who lived in a certain circle, and who required some mental activity such as usually develops with maturity, having views was as necessary as having a hat. If there was a reason why he preferred the liberal tendency to the conservative one (also held to by many in his circle), it was not because he found the liberal tendency more sensible, but because it more closely suited his manner of life. The liberal party said that everything was bad in Russia, and indeed Stepan Arkadyich had many debts and decidedly too little money. The liberal party said that marriage was an obsolete institution and was in need of reform, and indeed family life gave Stepan Arkadyich little pleasure and forced him to lie and pretend, which was so contrary to his nature. The liberal party said, or, rather, implied, that religion was just a bridle for the barbarous part of the population, and indeed Stepan Arkadyich could not even stand through a short prayer service without aching feet and could not grasp the point of all these fearsome and high-flown words about the other world, when life in this one could be so merry. At the same time, Stepan Arkadyich, who liked a merry joke, sometimes took pleasure in startling some simple soul by saying that if you want to pride yourself on your lineage, why stop at Rurik and renounce your first progenitor — the ape? And so the liberal tendency became a habit with Stepan Arkadyich, and he liked his newspaper, as he liked a cigar after dinner, for the slight haze it produced in his head. He read the leading article, which explained that in our time it was quite needless to raise the cry that radicalism was threatening to swallow up all the conservative elements, and that it was the government's duty to take measures to crush the hydra of revolution; that, on the contrary, `in our opinion, the danger lies not in the imaginary hydra of revolution, but in a stubborn traditionalism that impedes progress', and so on. He also read yet another article, a financial one, in which mention was made of Bentham and Mill and fine barbs were shot at the ministry. With his peculiar quickness of perception he understood the meaning of each barb: by whom, and against whom, and on what occasion it had been aimed, and this, as always, gave him a certain pleasure. But today this pleasure was poisoned by the recollection of Matryona Filimonovna's advice, and of the unhappy situation at home. He also read about Count Beust, who was rumoured to have gone to Wiesbaden, and about the end of grey hair, and about the sale of a light carriage, and a young person's offer of her services; but this information did not, as formerly, give him a quiet, ironic pleasure.    Having finished the newspaper, a second cup of coffee, and a kalatch with butter, he got up, brushed the crumbs from his waistcoat and, expanding his broad chest, smiled joyfully, not because there was anything especially pleasant in his heart — the smile was evoked by good digestion.    But this joyful smile at once reminded him of everything, and he turned pensive.    Two children's voices (Stepan Arkadyich recognized the voices of Grisha, the youngest boy, and Tanya, the eldest girl) were heard outside the door. They were pulling something and tipped it over.    `I told you not to put passengers on the roof,' the girl shouted in English. `Now pick it up!'    `All is confusion,' thought Stepan Arkadyich. `Now the children are running around on their own.' And, going to the door, he called them. They abandoned the box that stood for a train and came to their father.    The girl, her father's favourite, ran in boldly, embraced him, and hung laughing on his neck, delighting, as always, in the familiar smell of scent coming from his side-whiskers. Kissing him finally on the face, which was red from bending down and radiant with tenderness, the girl unclasped her hands and was going to run out again, but her father held her back.    `How's mama?' he asked, his hand stroking his daughter's smooth, tender neck. `Good morning,' he said, smiling to the boy who greeted him.    He was aware that he loved the boy less, and always tried to be fair; but the boy felt it and did not respond with a smile to the cold smile of his father.    `Mama? Mama's up,' the girl replied.    Stepan Arkadyich sighed. `That means again she didn't sleep all night,' he thought.    `And is she cheerful?'    The girl knew that there had been a quarrel between her father and mother, and that her mother could not be cheerful, and that her father ought to know it, and that he was shamming when he asked about it so lightly. And she blushed for him. He understood it at once and also blushed.    `I don't know,' she said. `She told us not to study, but to go for a walk to grandma's with Miss Hull.'    `Well, go then, my Tanchurochka. Ah, yes, wait,' he said, still holding her back and stroking her tender little hand.    He took a box of sweets from the mantelpiece, where he had put it yesterday, and gave her two, picking her favourites, a chocolate and a cream.    `For Grisha?' the girl said, pointing to the chocolate.    `Yes, yes.' And stroking her little shoulder once more, he kissed her on the nape of the neck and let her go.    `The carriage is ready,' said Matvei. `And there's a woman with a petition to see you,' he added.    `Has she been here long?' asked Stepan Arkadyich.    `Half an hour or so.'    `How often must I tell you to let me know at once!'    `I had to give you time for your coffee at least,' Matvei said in that friendly-rude tone at which it was impossible to be angry.    `Well, quickly send her in,' said Oblonsky, wincing with vexation.    The woman, Mrs Kalinin, a staff captain's wife, was petitioning for something impossible and senseless; but Stepan Arkadyich, as was his custom, sat her down, heard her out attentively without interrupting, and gave her detailed advice on whom to address and how, and even wrote, briskly and fluently, in his large, sprawling, handsome and clear handwriting, a little note to the person who could be of help to her. Having dismissed the captain's wife, Stepan Arkadyich picked up his hat and paused, wondering whether he had forgotten anything. It turned out that he had forgotten nothing, except what he had wanted to forget — his wife.    `Ah, yes!' He hung his head, and his handsome face assumed a wistful expression. `Shall I go or not?' he said to himself. And his inner voice told him that he should not go, that there could be nothing here but falseness, that to rectify, to repair, their relations was impossible, because it was impossible to make her attractive and arousing of love again or to make him an old man incapable of love. Nothing could come of it now but falseness and deceit, and falseness and deceit were contrary to his nature.    `But at some point I'll have to; it can't remain like this,' he said, trying to pluck up his courage. He squared his shoulders, took out a cigarette, lit it, took two puffs, threw it into the mother-of-pearl ashtray, walked with quick steps across the gloomy drawing room and opened the other door, to his wife's bedroom.

Bookclub Guide

INTRODUCTIONA handful of novels—such as Dickens's Bleak House or Joyce's Ulysses—cause us to feel upon closing them that the world we are returning to is somehow smaller than the one we have just left. Anna Karenina belongs to this group. One measure of its breadth is the enormous range of life experience Tolstoy depicts. Another measure is its attention to so many contemporary issues of nineteenth-century Russia. These immediately apparent features account for the length of Anna Karenina, but a more subtle feature gives the novel its capacious quality. Because it is so rich in incident, and because the psychologies of its main characters are so nuanced as to endow each with a fully formed view of the world, all that happens in Anna Karenina happens, in a sense, without adequate explanation, as in real life. When he is about to confront Anna about her relationship with Vronsky, Alexei Alexandrovich hesitates, feeling that he stands "face to face with something illogical and senseless," with "life [itself]" (p. 142). If the novel strikes us similarly, it is not because Tolstoy does not suggest or even state causes for the novel's events. Rather, the causes do not constitute an explanation, and the ultimately incompatible perspectives of the characters only intensify the mysteries with which the novel leaves us.The first sentence of Anna Karenina is one of the best-known openings of any novel: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Such a pronouncement, with the appearance of thoughtfully dispensed wisdom, holds the promise of a narrator who will illuminate all that follows. But this statement can be more accurately described as an observation, rather than an explanation or an interpretation. As the novel progresses, this distinction becomes increasingly evident. When contemplating his unhappiness, Vronsky thinks that he has erred in his belief that the realization of his desires would make him happy. Tolstoy does not tell us what would make Vronsky or anyone else happy, and the absence is both conspicuous and emblematic of the way Tolstoy frames issues without directing us to a specific understanding of them. He tells us how Vronsky arrives at this thought, but, as to the question of what happiness is, we get nothing but vague implication.The question of happiness, however, is clearly central to the novel. One may suppose that the portrayal of varying degrees of happiness informs Tolstoy's decision to structure the novel so that Anna and Vronsky's relationship and Levin and Kitty's marriage run parallel to one another. But words like happy and unhappy lose their descriptive power when we consider that "happy in his family life, a healthy man, Levin was several times so close to suicide that he hid a rope lest he hang himself with it, and was afraid to go about with a rifle lest he shoot himself" (p. 789). The spiritual crisis that pushes Levin to this point seems far removed from all that Anna faces. Her extreme isolation from everyone except Vronsky—whom she fears she is on the brink of losing—helps propel her toward suicide. The fact that Levin finally arrives at a formulation of the meaning of his life that he finds acceptable keeps him from sharing Anna's fate, yet he chooses to keep this revelation a secret from Kitty. Does this gesture indicate a kind of solitude from which Levin and Anna both suffer?More than anything else in Anna Karenina, Anna's suicide casts a shadow over the entire novel because it both invites and ultimately escapes interpretation. To the society that scorns her for her affair, her death is due punishment. Anna's plea for forgiveness "for everything" just before she dies suggests her own sense of guilt—though it does not adhere to some specific act—and perhaps a belief that justice is at hand. Yet a moment earlier "she was horrified at what she was doing" (p. 768). Does she understand what brings her to this end? The temptation to consider it any sort of commentary on adultery is complicated by Stiva and Dolly. Adultery seems almost becoming to Stiva, and he engages in it with impunity. Dolly tolerates Stiva's wandering without approving of it, yet she sympathizes with Anna, even imagining the pleasure she would take from a similar affair. If Levin is the novel's moral center, he nevertheless fails to tip the balance toward any single interpretation of Anna's fate. He not only allows Anna her mysteriousness; it even seems to overwhelm his capacity for judgment.ABOUT LEO TOLSTOYLeo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on his aristocratic family's estate south of Moscow. A young life of what he called "vulgar licentiousness" included studying for a degree he did not complete, traveling in Europe, and serving in the military. While fighting in the Crimean War in the 1850s, he wrote short stories that established his literary reputation. Tolstoy inherited his family's estate, Yasnaya Polyana, along with 700 serfs, and settled there. In addition to his writing, Tolstoy immersed himself in the work of social reform, establishing a school for his serfs and trying to bring about the emancipation of all serfs.Tolstoy married Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862, beginning a long period of contentment; they had thirteen children. While managing his estate and educational projects, Tolstoy wrote his two greatest novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). In the late 1870s, he suffered a deep spiritual crisis and renounced his former beliefs and literary works. He embraced a rational Christianity that stressed humility, universal brotherhood, and the abandonment of private property. He tried to commit himself to chastity and vegetarianism.A Confession (1882) described this change in Tolstoy's life and writing. Increasingly troubled by the disparities between the life with his family and the beliefs he espoused, Tolstoy secretly left home in 1910, hoping to find a peaceful refuge. He died several days later at a remote railway station.DISCUSSION QUESTIONSHow are we to understand the epigram "Vengeance is mine, I will repay"? Should Anna's fate be considered the result of God's vengeance? Is Anna's desire to take vengeance on Vronsky being condemned? When Vronsky first meets Anna, "it was as if a surplus of something so overflowed her being that it expressed itself beyond her will..." (p. 61). What is this something? Why is it expressed beyond her will? Why is Anna able to reconcile Stiva and Dolly? We are told that it is unpleasant for Anna to read about other people's lives because she "wanted too much to live herself" (p. 100). Why are reading and living placed in opposition to one another? When Anna and Vronsky have satisfied their desire for one another, why does Tolstoy compare Vronsky to a murderer? After telling her husband about her affair, why does Anna feel that "everything was beginning to go double in her soul" (p. 288)? Why does Tolstoy counterpose Levin and Kitty's marriage with Anna and Vronsky's relationship? Why does Levin continually imagine his future in such detail, only to have his actual experience differ from what he had expected? What keeps Dolly from having an affair like Anna's, even though she imagines one "parallel to it, an almost identical love affair of her own" (p. 609)? While explaining her affair to Dolly, Anna says, "I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself" (p. 616). Does the novel present these two objectives as compatible or incompatible? Why, as she later admits to herself, did Anna want Levin to fall in love with her when she met him? Why does Anna kill herself? Why does everyone and everything seem so ugly to Anna just before she does so? Is it Anna herself or the society in which she lives that is more responsible for her unhappiness? Why are the consequences of Stiva's adultery so insignificant relative to those Anna faces? Why does Vronsky go to war as a volunteer after Anna's suicide? Of all the novel's characters, why is it only Anna and Levin who contemplate suicide? Why does Levin believe that he must keep the revelation in which he comes to understand faith a secret from Kitty? Why does Tolstoy end the novel with Levin's musings about the nature of faith and his embrace of morally justifiable actions as the basis for the meaning of life?FOR FURTHER REFLECTIONWhat should we take into account when trying to balance responsibility to ourselves with responsibility to others?To what extent does a society determine which of our individual desires can be satisfied?