Before we start talking about this book, I have a confession to make. I butchered this magnificent saga. For some reason, I decided to listen to this book rather than to read. And that was my biggest mistake. This is a big book with all Tolstoy elements, full of political, philosophical, and theological discussion and it is very easy to lose attention in a book with the audio format for such topics. So, if you are planning to read this book, please do yourself a favor and pick a hard copy/e-copy.
What the book is about?
Anna Karenina, is the first true novel by the Russian author, Leo Tolstoy published in 1878. It is considered by many as the world’s greatest novel. This is the story of Anna, a sophisticated and charming woman, known as the belle of society in her days. She comes to Moscow to convince her sister-in-law Dolly to forgive her cheating husband. There she chances to meet Count Vronsky, who at that time was courting Dolly’s sister Kitty but was immediately charmed by Anna. This is a story about how Anna turns to Vronsky to fulfill her passionate nature and later bear its consequences.
The story also explores the life of Levin, who by many is said to be a reflection of Tolstoy himself. He is a simple countryman who sees things in black and white, misfit in the society of riches and aristocrats, and is deeply in love with Kitty.
My views about the book
Now, what do I say about this book? It took me few months to finish this. There are a lot of characters in the book who have really touched me. This book is written beautifully. One of the most beautiful things about this book is that Tolstoy has given no moral lessons. He has simply told the story and you are here to watch and judge for yourself.
I am not sure if many will agree with me, but my heart goes to Anna. Yes, she is not the most moral and admirable character, she has hurt many people in the pursuit of her own passion, she is jealous and possessive but I wonder what has driven her to this state. If a woman in those times decides to get out of loveless marriage to follow her heart then she is a fallen woman but the same does not apply to men. And this contrast is beautifully represented with Stiva’s infidelity, which Dolly is supposed to forgive and move on.
Even after the woman dares to pursue what she desires the society does everything to make it unbearable for her. But the same is barely applicable to her partner. He is still an eligible bachelor. The character of Vronsky seems a little superfluous to me, lacking any depth in character or personality. But in the end, his plight broke my heart.
Levin’s character even though has occupied a major portion of the narrative wasn’t able to hold my attention for long. His tendency to see things in black and white, stretching in his thoughts way more than it’s needed somehow irked me.
I don’t know what to feel about Alexei Alexandrovich. There are times when I felt pity for him too. He was not a bad or an unkind person. There was a time when she has forgiven Anna too and accepted her with all his heart even when he was the one who was deceived. He was just way too old school and want to do things by the book. For him, society is more important than the people and that’s the reason he can’t get the reader’s sympathy.
I really loved the book. How much I wished I have read it from a hard copy. But I don’t think I will go through this saga again. However, I am definitely eyeing for my next Tolstoy read. And I defiantly recommend this book to all classic lovers.