Anna Karenina by Leo TolstoyAnna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina

byLeo Tolstoy

Mass Market Paperback | June 1, 1984

about

A magnificent drama of vengeance, infidelity, and retribution, Anna Karenina portrays the moving story of people whose emotions conflict with the dominant social mores of their time.  Sensual, rebellious Anna falls deeply and passionately in love with the handsome Count Vronsky.  When she refuses to conduct the discreet affair that her cold, ambitious husband (and Russian high society) would condone, she is doomed.  Set against the tragic love of Anna and Vronsky, the plight of the melancholy nobleman Konstantine Levin unfolds.  In doubt about the meaning of life, haunted by thoughts of suicide, Levin's struggles echo Tolstoy's own spiritual crisis.  But Anna's inner turmoil mirrors the own emotional imprisonment and mental disintegration of a woman who dares to transgress the strictures of a patriarchal world.  In Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy brought to perfection the novel of social realism and created a masterpiece that bared the Russian soul.
The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Librar...
Loading
Title:Anna KareninaFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:1008 pages, 6.88 × 4.19 × 1.6 inPublished:June 1, 1984Publisher:Random House Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553213466

ISBN - 13:9780553213461

Look for similar items by category:

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book Engaging, modern, beautiful. One of my favourite books.
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this book Engaging, modern, beautiful. One of my favourite books.
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite Book! Engaging, modern, beautiful. One of my favourite books.
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite Book Engaging, modern, beautiful. One of my favourite books.
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite book of all time! This novel is a masterpiece and will always be my favourite book of all time! Tolstoy makes the novel interesting and holds your attention with his multiple story lines. I highly recommend this novel as it is a classic and constantly keeps you in suspense! This novel proves that Tolstoy is one of the greatest novelists of all time.
Date published: 2017-09-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from long but great if you love history loved the romantic aspect and history of this book. it is a commitment but if you have an interest in learn about the life of a Russian aristocrat in the time of the zarh this is the book for you
Date published: 2017-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful story, beautiful edition One of my favourite stories in my favourite edition. Gorgeous!
Date published: 2017-08-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Like the cover feel! One of the best classics out there!
Date published: 2017-08-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wanted to love it This book receives so much praise as one of the best novels of all time that I felt really pressured to love it. However, I found it a little difficult to get through. There's a lot of characters to keep track of, so the book keeps shuffling through their storylines, and sometimes by the time you check back in with them you don't really care as much. It dwells a lot on details of aristocratic life, which is interesting and informative, but not exactly exciting.
Date published: 2017-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Beautifully written! Loved the characters!! Writing like this stands the test of time!!
Date published: 2017-05-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great I thoroughly enjoyed the style of writing in this book, as it was almost poetic. I was hoping for more details of Anna and Vronsky's life, as I felt that the book did not provide as much detail as it should considering it was titled after her. I found that half, if not more, of the book was centred around Levin. Although Levin's part of the book was great and had much to offer, I found that Anna's part of the book was lacking. There could have been much more written about her sufferings before her death and especially I expected more from Vronky's side of the story. The book did not touch on his sufferings after her death at all.I also found that Vronksy did not have much voice in this book, which I believe was imperative in telling Anna's story. I was very disappointed in how their part of the book ended. In addition, I found that there were parts of the book which I did not care to read about such as the hunting trip, the government discussions, etc. However, I did enjoy this book and would recommend it as it did provide great insight into the characters' thought processes, which I enjoyed the most about this book. Specifically, Anna's thoughts about Vronsky's imagined affair as well as Levin's struggle about religion were especially well thought out and written.
Date published: 2017-05-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Really long |The book was a little interesting and a whole lot of boring. A very loooong.
Date published: 2017-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourite books An amazing story that will challenge the way you think about life and the choices you make. It took me awhile to get through it but it was well worth the time and effort. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow This is one of the greatest books ever written
Date published: 2017-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly Recommended This book is highly recommended and definitely worth delving into.
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from that's a go I have read this classics book for so many times, in different languages, but I was astonished about this fantastic translation in English. I would read it again and again.
Date published: 2016-12-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Tolstoy One of my favourite classics.
Date published: 2016-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it! Simply classic. Real life, not sugar coated. Not everything in life is sun and roses. Simply beautiful!
Date published: 2016-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A classic for a reason. This book is both epic and intimate, dramatic and subtle as well as depressing and uplifting. This novel is most definitely worthy of its reputation.
Date published: 2016-12-14
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

Read from the Book

Since Anna Kareninawas published in 1877, almost everyone who matters in the history of literature has put in his two cents (and a few who stand out in other realms--from Matthew Arnold, who wrote a cogent essay in 1887 about "Count Tolstoy's" novel, to Lenin, who, while acknowledging his "first class works of world literature," refers to him as "a worn out sniveller who beat his breast and boasted to the world that he now lived on rice patties").Dostoyevsky, a contemporary, declared Anna Karenina perfect "as an artistic production." Proust calls Tolstoy "a serene god." Comparing his work to that of Balzac, he said, "In Tolstoi everything is great by nature--the droppings of an elephant beside those of a goat. Those great harvest scenes in Anna K., the hunting scenes, the skating scenes . . ." Flaubert just exclaims, "What an artist and what a psychologist!" Virginia Woolf declares him "greatest of all novelists. . . . He notices the blue or red of a child's frock . . . every twig, every feather sticks to his magnet."A few cranks, of course, weigh in on the other side. Joseph Conrad wrote a complimentary letter to Constance Garnett's husband and mentioned, "of the thing itself I think but little," a crack Nabokov never forgave him. Turgenev said, "I don't like Anna Karenina, although there are some truly great pages in it (the races, the mowing, the hunting). But it's all sour, it reeks of Moscow, incense, old maids, Slavophilism, the nobility, etc. . . . The second part is trivial and boring." But Turgenev was by then an ex-friend and Tolstoy had once challenged him to a duel.E. M. Forster said, "Great chords begin to sound, and we cannot say exactly what struck them. They do not arise from the story. . . . They do not come from the episodes nor yet from the characters. They come from the immense area of Russia. . . . Many novelists have the feeling for place . . . very few have the sense of space, and the possession of it ranks high in Tolstoy's divine equipment."After finishing Anna Karenina, Tolstoy himself said (to himself, in his journal), "Very well, you will be more famous than Gogol or Pushkin or Shakespeare or Molière, or than all the writers of the world--and what of it?"More great essays than I can recount here have been written about the book, especially those by George Steiner, Gary Saul Morson, Eduard Babev, and Raymond Williams.Tolstoy criticism continues to thrive, and now includes its own home called the Tolstoy Studies Journal. Resorting to any library today, one can page through recent articles with titles like "Tolstoy on the Couch: Misogyny, Masochism, the Absent Mother," by Daniel Rancour-Lafarriere; "Passion in Competition: The Sporting Motif in Anna Karenina," by Howard Schwartz; "Food and the Adulterous Woman: Sexual and Social Morality in Anna Karenina," by Karin Horwatt; and even "Anna Karenina's Peter Pan Syndrome," by Vladimir Goldstein.What's left, in the year 2000, for me to say?Once, when I was a girl of eleven or twelve, sprawled on a sofa reading, an adult friend of the family noticed that I went through books quickly and suggested that every time I finished one, I enter the name of the author and title, publisher, the dates during which I read it, and what my impressions were on a three-by-five index card.That kind of excellent habit is one we can easily imagine cultivated by the young Shcherbatsky princesses, when we first meet them "wrapped in a mysterious poetical veil." Levin wonders from afar, "Why it was the three young ladies had to speak French and English on alternate days; why it was that at certain hours they took turns playing the piano, the sounds of which were audible in their brother's room . . . why they were visited by those professors of French literature, of music, of drawing, of dancing; why at certain hours all three young ladies, and Mademoiselle Linon, drove in the coach to Tverskoy Boulevard, dressed in their satin cloaks, Dolly in a long one, Natalie in a shorter one, and Kitty in one so short that her shapely little legs in tight red stockings were exposed."Of course, I was an American girl, not a Russian princess, and instead of foreign languages and piano tutors what I had was outside. From dawn to dusk, all summer, we ran to the woods, scavenging lumber, hauling boards, digging holes to build forts that were rarely completed; but we became muddy and tired.I never followed the family friend's good advice.Now I wish I had. A reason to keep a reading journal would be to compare the experience of the same book met at different ages. It could provide the deepest kind of diary. Anna Karenina, War and Peace, In Search of Lost Time and Middlemarch hold sway over a reader for weeks, months, a whole summer, and so we tend to remember our lives along with them, the way we would someone we'd roomed with for a period of months and then not seen again. I remember Tolstoy's novels personally--where I was when I first read them, for whom I was pining or from whom I was recovering. (For me, the novels were a bit long to read in the throes.)Tolstoy himself kept just such a diary, his biographers tell us, a journal of "girls and reading. And remorse." He presented these journals, with all their literary impressions and squalid confessions, to his young fiance, Sofia Behrs, as Levin does to Kitty in Anna Karenina.In the novel, as in Tolstoy's life, the squalor got all the attention from the young bride to be. But for history, as it might have been for Tolstoy later in his life, his youthful writing about books proves to be not only more important but more personal.Though I didn't keep a journal of reading, I did keep journals of "feelings," largely of boys whose names the black-bound volumes record. A list of those names no longer conjures the faces or characteristic gestures.But I remember where I was the first time I read Anna Karenina. I was at Yaddo, a writers' colony in upstate New York, during the high season, and I felt distinctly outside the community's social world. Another young female writer arrived with, it seemed to me, a better wardrobe. I found myself checking what she was wearing at every meal. I hadn't considered that I was visiting a town that for more than 150 years had been a summer "watering hole." A small backpack held all my clothes for the summer. A pretty orchestra conductor with whom I jogged examined a pin-sized stain on my best white blouse. "I wouldn't wear it," she said.I was twenty-four years old and, I'll admit it, I read the novel to learn about love. I was at the beginning of my life and I'd come from one of the unhappy families Tolstoy mentions. I was, in my own oblique way, writing about that circus in all its distinction. But I wanted my own life to be one of the happy ones and I felt at peace there, in my studio on the second story of an old wooden, formal house. I had the time to lie on my white bed with the pine fronds ticking the window and learn how.I felt enchanted, as any girl might be, with the balls, the ice-skating parties, most especially with Kitty's European tour to recover from heartbreak. I identified with Anna and with Kitty, never for a second with Varenka, whose position might have actually been closest to my own.In fact, I was young enough to remember a particular magazine I'd read while in a toy store as a child, no doubt published by the Mattel Corporation, that chronicled a holiday week in the life of a doll called Barbie. Like the characters in Anna Karenina, Barbie also went to an ice-skating party and wore a muff. Barbie also owned formal gowns. Barbie, too, sat to have her portrait painted.I mention this not to call attention to the rather girlish and unsophisticated imagination I still had but rather to show how far into a child's fantasy Tolstoy ventures before then shocking us by rendering our heroine's aversion to touching her husband. And here I'm not talking only about Anna. He makes mention of Kitty's "revulsion" toward Levin as well.I read--that first time--for the central characters, to see whom they married; to decide what was dangerous in a man, what fulfilling; what kind of love to hope for, to fear.I didn't like Vronsky. Or I did, but I was afraid of him. Vronsky says something at the beginning of the novel that the repeat reader will never forget. We meet him, in his first appearance, as Kitty's suitor, and already fear--as her mother will not quite let herself--that he will turn out to be a cad. The conversation in the parlor turns to table-rapping and spirits, and Countess Nordston, who believed in spiritualism, begins to describe the marvels she has seen.Vronsky says, " '. . . for pity's sake, do take me to see them! I have never seen anything extraordinary, though I am always on the lookout for it everywhere.' " He says this in Kitty's living room, in her presence. Of course, he has not yet seen Anna.That night, after flirting with Kitty, he goes straight home to his rented room and falls asleep early, musing, "That's why I like the Shcherbatskys', because I become better there."His yearning for the extraordinary, the small account he gives to the peace-giving quality of the Shcherbatskys, tells his whole story, the way a prologue often announces the great Shakespearean themes. Kitty's father has never liked or trusted Vronsky, while her mother favors him, considering Levin only a "good" match, but Vronsky a "brilliant" one.The dangers and glory of that kind of exceptionalism--in love--were for me, that first time, the subject of the novel.That question of the viability of extraordinary and ordinary loves was even more riveting for me, at twenty-four, than the differences between happy and unhappy families. This dilemma, in fact--along with work and how to get by on little money in New York City--was the main thing my friends and I talked about. How X loves Y, but Y loves Z, but Z loves . . . all coming down to whether we would have great loves or have to "settle," as we put it.Of course, we all want to have something extraordinary, in love. None of us, at twenty-four anyway, wants to settle or be settled for.Part of what is touching, on a second reading, is Vronsky's first meeting with Anna. If you had asked me about that scene before I reread the book, I would have relied on convention and said that Vronsky met a beautiful woman at the train station. But on first seeing Anna--who will be for Vronsky the great love--Vronsky sees her full of life, but not necessarily exceptional. He glances at her once more "not because she was very beautiful" but because of an expression on her face of "something peculiarly . . . soft." Vronsky has not had an ordinary family life. He doesn't much remember his father, and his mother, now "a dried-up old lady," had been "a brilliant society woman, who had had during her married life, and especially afterward, many love affairs notorious in all society." Tolstoy makes it clear that Vronsky does not love or respect his mother.Anna says, " 'The countess and I have been talking all the time, I of my son and she of hers.' "Vronsky recognizes Anna first as a mother, a mother miserable to be away--for only a few days--from her beloved son. We might say that what seemed extraordinary for him was just the quality of ordinary maternal devotion his own mother never had.And here we feel the tragic parallel. Anna is bound to become a woman like Vronsky's mother, notorious for her affair. Later on, her great concern will be that her son may lose respect for her.Vronsky will wish for nothing more than to make his daughter legitimate and to marry Anna, in the usual way." 'My love keeps growing more passionate and selfish, while his is dying, and that's why we're drifting apart,' " Anna says, near the end. " 'He is everything to me, and I want him more and more to give himself up to me entirely. And he wants more and more to get away from me. . . . If I could be anything but a mistress, passionately caring for nothing but his caresses; but I can't and I don't care to be anything else. And by that desire I rouse aversion in him, and he rouses fury in me, and it cannot be different.' "There, Anna is, I believe, talking about sex. But by then, Vronsky wants the precious ordinary: a marriage, a family--which is as unattainable for him as his heightened passion is for Kitty or Levin or Dolly or even Stiva.

From Our Editors

A direct and truthful transcript of life in Russia in the early 1800's.

Editorial Reviews

"One of the greatest love stories in world literature."
--Vladimir Nabokov