Friday, August 31, 2012

Anna Karenina

by Leo Tolstoy

Oh my! For years I have picked up Anna Karenina in bookstores and libraries and thought of reading it, only to return it to the shelf, not ready to tackle the monstrosity. I finally succumbed to the pressure from one of my Classics reading friends who has been anxious to discuss it with me. Well, I am done!

Anna is a classic in style, in prose, in characterization, in societal and cultural issues of the day and in addressing love, marriage, jealousy, religion, depression and death. Tolstoy gives us real people with real problems and delves into their inner turmoil as they struggle to make choices. He shows us how these decisions affect each character individually and as a part of society.

One of the main themes throughout the novel is love in marriage. Tolstoy uses two characters, Levin and Anna, to compare and contrast marital love. While Anna is trapped in a loveless marriage and seeks comfort in another man's arms, Levin truly loves his wife and works to keep that love strong. He takes us along the path as each faces the consequences of their actions. Many other relationships are explored through these pages as well.

In addition, Tolstoy presents long and tedious expositions about farming and Russian politics. For me, this interfered with the flow of the story and required much persistence to "get back to the good parts." And although I hate giving away too much, I was frustrated to have invested so much into Anna only to come to that final decision of hers.

It was mostly good, I am glad to say I have read it, but it is long my friends.

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