Anna Karenina - A Review
I'm going to be reading Anna Karenina yet again.
I honestly have no idea how many times I've read this but all I know it’s been quite sometime, since I last read it. Re-reading that novel was also on my to-do list for a long time... So it was time I got down to it.
I certainly appreciate Anna Karenina and consider it to be, structurally speaking, a great novel. Maybe one of the greatest ever novels. But my first choice will always be War and Peace
The greatest novel ever written - that's the kind of thing people used to say about Anna Karenina. I wasn't sure about that. Even then, I wasn't interested in list making. But I did know that Anna Karenina the most magnificent of heroines. A lot of people who have read Anna K have felt resurrection and will never be the same person again
In short, Anna Karenina is a novel by Russian writer LEO TOLSTOY, and it was first published in serial installments from 1873-77. Due to the clash between the author and editor the novel’s first complete appearance arose in book form. Tolstoy considered this book his first true novel. The character of Anna was likely inspired, in part, by Maria Hartung (1832–1919), the elder daughter of the Russian poet PUSHKIN. Some critics called it a trifling romance of high life and others declared it as ‘flawless work of art’.
Tolstoy, for a few years he wrestled with the idea of a story of a "bad" woman -- outside the social norms, someone who would be punished for transgressing? It was only when he came to fall in love with her -- and found himself unable to think of an ending good enough for her -- that he began to reconsider her suicide along the lines of a courageous woman -- a split off part of his own personality -- torn between the hunger for stability and the desire for unconventionality. It made me wonder whether there is contemporary literature today that rises to this level of ambition
Anna is the centerpiece, the focus of his attention and he details the psychological turmoil she is going through. Her suicide seems to be result of a guilt she suffers from for flouting the convention and rules of the society. Her love and Vronsky’s too fails to keep the guilt at bay. There is an additional trauma of her being separated from her child.
But I will say this about Tolstoy, the way he portrays Anna, she almost seems to ’self-destruct’, consumed by her own ghosts. So if there was any message in it about women-who-have-extramarital-affairs will die, it was very subtle.
As you say, by contrast, her brother Stiva’s numerous flings are seen more lightheartedly.
But as they say ’’that a woman in greater need for a man’s love throw themselves into the arms of the first man who, they think, will satisfy their emotional needs’’. In case of Anna it’s much more than an emotional need, though it is also one of the factors. Anna becomes insecure, she struggles with ’’morality’’ and searches frantically for a way out of the mess her life had become - she almost forgets the difference between right and wrong, and enters into state of madness and there lies the anomaly.
Basically, give Anna a read sometime, then go for War and Peace.