The Russians Part 3: Leo Tolstoy

I read Anna Karenina for my own 2012 challenge (which is not going so great). It is also the first book I can cross of my list for The Classics Club.

I really really liked this book. Obviously the main plot is not a secret to anyone, and I had watched a couple of movie adaptations in the past. But the book is so much more than that.

It seems to me that Leo is always trying to not just write a story but intertwine in it his thoughts on most everything. I don’t know how he does it; while narrating an interesting story with many characters, all with their own stories, he deals with morality and marriage, religion and politics, war and agriculture and so much more. Having said that, despite it not being by any means a “simple” novel, Anna Karenina is easier to read than War and Peace which at some parts required quite a bit of determination to get through.

Before I started reading, I had assumed that I would like the central character, Anna. So I was surprised when about halfway in the book I found myself feeling sympathy for her husband and being annoyed with her. That’s not to say that I disliked her or that she is a bad person; although at times I got the impression that the author himself wasn’t so keen on her. I was wishing for a happy end for Anna even though I knew better and yet her jealousy towards Vronsky irritated me. So what I’m trying to say is that she is a complex character, and like all the characters in the book she was not perfect, so I didn’t think it was straightforward to love or hate anyone in the book.

If it wasn’t clear, I think Tolstoy is all sorts of awesome and Anna Karenina is a masterpiece.

Here’s a little part that I liked:

“…but I’ve always loved you, and if you love any one it is only for what they are and not what you want them to be.”

Clearly Tolstoy disagrees with Andrew Sean Greer in The Story of a Marriage.


6 thoughts on “The Russians Part 3: Leo Tolstoy

  1. tolstoytherapy says:

    I’m glad that you enjoyed reading Anna Karenina. She really is such a complex character, and I didn’t find myself liking her either. In reality, she wouldn’t be a woman that other females like! I pitied her son especially. I really enjoyed Levin’s character, however; so many of Tolstoy’s beliefs seem to be entwined into his part of the storyline. Whilst Anna Karenina is dramatic and famous for its plot, I’ve always found more in the broader nature of War and Peace. It’s a massive book, yes, but there really is so much to learn and think about.

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