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Katya

Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

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Adam - glad you bought it, it really is worth the read. Despite the attitudes of the timeset, its very modern in some of the issues it deals with, and quite easy to relate to from that point of view. Read it fast and let me know what you thought!!!! It's one of my all-time favourites, despite it only reaching my bookshelf a short while ago, so I'd love to hear your views and take on it.

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Hello all, I'm new here. Having searched high and low for an online bookclub for almost a year, I'm really excited!:lol:

 

I've read A.K. 5 times and listened to it on audio cassette about 4 times. I have to admit, if you couldnt already tell, I LOVE this book! Kitty and Levin are my favorites. You cant help but love the innocence of their love. I believe Tolstoy wanted to contrast the "pure" love to the "perverted" love between Kitty and Levin and Ann and Vronsky.

 

Character wise? Anna just annoys me to no end, no matter how many times I read this story. Everytime she is whiney and pathetic. Just my opinion. Anna is the ultimate victim of her own choices. Why DIDNT she accept Alexa's offer of the divorce when it was first mentioned? Why did she consistently shoot herself in the foot? She played the martyered (sp) victim who was determined to garner pity.

 

Vronsky payed for his flippant attitude towards Kitty's love for him. What did he get? He got into a tortorous (just cant spell correctly today!) relationship with an unstable and jealous, married woman.

 

I have so much more to say on this but I'll pace myself!

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Katrina1968, you are the hero of the day to me. 5 times! Oh my god. I mean, I like classics but me and Tolstoy... we are definetly not made for each other.

I am able to read his works but this self-violation is very far from enjoying what you read. I've managed A. K. but I couldn't get over the third part of 'War and peace', so I've never finished it. My Tolstoy experience happened some years ago. Maybe I should try again...

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I have had this book on my list for years but it never seems to end up in my basket when I go shopping. I think I will make it a point to buy it and start it this weekend.

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For some reason I have not read Tolstoy. Guess I will have to get on the ball.

 

What, no one thinks any of Steinbeck's books are classics?

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I just finished reading this book today - my first book of 2016, and what a book to begin the new year with.

 

I was gripped from the first few pages. Tolstoy's characters are so well created, with incredible depth and perception. The novel has it all: romance, philosophy, religion, politics and society. Yet these concepts are so beautifully intertwined with the characters lives, that after finishing the novel you feel like you have been through a tremendous journey yourself.

 

 

Yes, Anna is self-indulgent, even selfish, but I still loved her. I felt so sorry for her throughout the story, despite the fact that she was indeed responsible for many of her misfortunes. I can't say what endeared me most towards her - I guess, for me, she simply portrayed the internal battle of women during those times, especially in high society, as well as this odd emotion that we call love, and the difficult paths it can force us onto. Even towards the end, during her descent into paranoia, my heart went out to her. Her ability to wear a pretty mask in front of society, yet struggle with her demons in the same breath is a battle many of us can relate to. I felt her ending was appropriate. I have become a bit tired of these countless 'happy endings' and I felt that her suicide, although a form of revenge against Vronsky, also highlighted her own depths of despair.

 

Levin was the other character who really came to light. I really saw myself in a lot of his struggles. He seemed to be the gleaming jewel against the backdrop of conformity and shallowness that overwhelmed the rest of the high society. He battled with some truly human struggles, and although I was a bit uncertain with the saviour that he managed to find in the end, I felt that he was a character who we could all learn from.

 

 

Having finished, and so enjoyed this novel, I am seriously considering giving War and Peace a go - something that I never dared touch for fear of it going over my head. It would be great to hear if someone has read both novels, and what their opinion has been of each.

Edited by Angury

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Having finished, and so enjoyed this novel, I am seriously considering giving War and Peace a go - something that I never dared touch for fear of it going over my head. It would be great to hear if someone has read both novels, and what their opinion has been of each.

 

I have read both, although about 30 years ago - I read Anna Karenina in my teens, and War and Peace in my late twenties.  It's so long ago that I can't remember details, but I did enjoy both, and have new editions of both on my TBR list.

 

If you enjoyed Anna Karenina, I don't see any reason at all that War and Peace would be over your head.  The length of the book could certainly be a bit daunting, but I read it in my lunch hours at work so never stressed about how much time I had to read or how long it was going to take me, I just read it for an hour, five days a week, until it was finished (I don't remember now how many weeks it took to finish, but it wasn't a terribly long time at all).

 

The one thing I seem to remember about War and Peace is that the chapters (or sections? I can't quite remember) are often being about 'society' or about 'war'.  I often found that when I had been very involved in the writing about one aspect, it sometimes took me a page or two to get into the other when they changed.

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I'll give this a bump rather than starting a new thread.

 

Despite the book's title, this book is actually about two people, Anna Karenina, and Konstantin Levin, following the two of them in separate chapters, their lives unconnected but for some occasional acquaintances. 

I once read a review of the book which suggested that when young people read the novel, they are predominantly concerned with Anna's story, but when they read the novel again years later, with mature, world weary eyes, it is Levin's story that begins to resonate with them. To me, this is a rather self-congratulatory simplification. The truth is, I think the complete opposite is true.

When I was young, Levin's journey was far more interesting to me, full of profound questions about life, and meaning, and philosophy, and purpose. Meanwhile, Anna was just some silly girl who fell in love then offed herself because... boo hoo. I frankly had little interest in her and considered Levin, and his search for a place in the world, to be a significantly more powerful narrative.

Now, with those aforementioned mature eyes, I have changed my mind. If anything, Levin is a spoiled child, privileged by his gender to pursue various self-indulgent interests and distractions, his freedom being the very thing that permits him to explore such meandering concerns while the world, struggling to continue beside him, plods along as normal. Anna, on the other hand, is caged by social circumstances, she cannot be who she wants to be, nor love who she wants to love. Life is designed by others and portioned off to those willing to commit to the expectations of class, gender and education. Anna must await, with baited breath, the permission of others before she can take any ownership of her existence. And, ultimately, she concludes that death is the only escape.

Both stories have their compelling moments, and I was slightly disappointed that they met (or that their meeting was so... underwhelming), but I suppose Tolstoy was making a point there too, one which pivoted on the very different journeys these two people were making.

It is a truly spectacular novel, one which requires, deserves, several readings. A masterpiece.

Edited by Hux

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I just realized that I posted years ago as Katrina1968! Anyway, what I've found is that during each and every reading, I have learned to dislike Anna more than the last time. I'm over 50 and find that while she's caged by societal norms, she's selfish and self-centered. She cheats on her husband and then ridicules him for being who he's always been. She disrespects this man's home (I say HIS home because she obviously doesn't want to be there). She wreaks havoc with whomever she comes in contact with. And she refuses to truly take responsibility of any of her actions. When Dolly told her she was just like her brother, she was offended, after just telling her sister-in-law that she should forgive him.

 

I've no doubt that Anna dealt with mental health issues, but I am of the mind that they came on after her decision to begin her affair with Vronsky. She was the classic "shoot herself in the foot" damsel who, even when originally given the way out of her marriage, chose to stay as some form of punishment. And then when she wanted her freedom, it was too late. Everything she did was over the top. Other women took many lovers but Anna was what we call "extra." And I have no patience with her.

 

Levin also managed to work a nerve. He was morose, self-absorbed, and whiney. I was particularly disgusted when he and, (was it Steva or his brother?) were discussing the need for a school and hospital. His only concern was how it would affect HIS pocket and that HIS future children wouldn't use either so why the need? He could only care about another in as much as they came under his sphere of familial love. I get wanting and needing to secure the wellbeing of your family, but as he was in the position of a landowner, he did have responsibilities to the people working his estate. He cared about them only because they were a necessity to keep the farm running.

 

I think in the end, Tolstoy wanted to show us how the "wrong" love can lead us down the path of ruin and "good love" can lead us to a sort of heaven on earth. Anna vs Kitty and Vronsky vs Levin, darkness, and light

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On 2/23/2021 at 9:38 PM, Hux said:


I once read a review of the book which suggested that when young people read the novel, they are predominantly concerned with Anna's story, but when they read the novel again years later, with mature, world weary eyes, it is Levin's story that begins to resonate with them. To me, this is a rather self-congratulatory simplification. The truth is, I think the complete opposite is true

 

 

How interesting. In that case, I must re-read this book. Similar to you, when I first read the book Levin's story really resonated with me and I found his thoughts about life and meaning to be thought-provoking. Perhaps on my second read I will have a change of heart.

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