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Anna Karenina (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 4 Feb 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (4 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099540665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099540663
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 358,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on the family estate of Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, where he spent most of his early years, together with his several brothers. In 1844 he entered the University of Kazan to read Oriental Languages and later Law, but left before completing a degree. He spent the following years in a round of drinking, gambling and womanizing, until weary of his idle existence he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus in 1851.

He took part in the Crimean war and after the defence of Sevastopol wrote The Sevastopol Sketches (1855-6), which established his literary reputation. After leaving the army in 1856 Tolstoy spent some time mixing with the literati in St Petersburg before travelling abroad and then settling at Yasnaya Polyana, where he involved himself in the running of peasant schools and the emancipation of the serfs. His marriage to Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862 marked the beginning of a period of contentment centred around family life; they had thirteen children. Tolstoy managed his vast estates, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote both his great novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).

During the 1870s he underwent a spiritual crisis, the moral and religious ideas that had always dogged him coming to the fore. A Confession (1879-82) marked an outward change in his life and works; he became an extreme rationalist and moralist, and in a series of pamphlets written after 1880 he rejected church and state, indicted the demands of flesh, and denounced private property. His teachings earned him numerous followers in Russia and abroad, and also led finally to his excommunication by the Russian Holy Synod in 1901. In 1910 at the age of eighty-two he fled from home 'leaving this worldly life in order to live out my last days in peace and solitude'; dying some days later at the station master's house at Astapovo.


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Review

"One of the greatest love stories in world literature" (Vladimir Nabokov)

"Tolstoy's historical and human sweep is breathtaking. His vision, humanity and his knowledge that love and pain are at the heart of life is the most important of all the profound truths revealed in this great novel" (Jonathan Dimbleby)

"In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy got totally inside the mind of a woman who is prepared to lose everything for the sake of man and who is so much in love that she commits suicide. I don't like her as a woman, but I think it is a brilliant portrait, unequalled in literature" (Amanda Craig Independent)

"I've read and re-read this novel and every time I find another layer in the story" (Philippa Gregory)

"I first read Anna Karenina 20 years ago when travelling across the Peruvian desert on a long bus journey, and it has stayed with me ever since" (Hugh Thomson Independent)

Book Description

'The greatest love story I've ever read' Andrew Davies

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By tony on 27 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
Having thought that Tolstoy would be dry and heavy going, for some reason I picked a nicely bound hard back copy of this in Dorset a few months back. It took me some time to summon up the courage to 'start it up', given its 900 plus pages in length. However like my old Toyota that has taken me to Biarritz last week, both are going strong once started.
What it certainly is not is dry or turgid. It flows easily and has you on the edge-it races on and one cannot put it down. I take i to the beach daily and am now nearly finished. The issues raised are as alive today as they were in 19th century Russia. Issues such as : love, infidelity, morality, divorce, love of ones children (even) -role of women in society-sex/politics/class/ etc. and all introduced seemlessly in a book that deals with the relationships between a group of people-some related and others not so. A beautiful woman who one assumes is the central character of the book, from its title, is but one in a maelstrom of relationships that are constantly changing over time. What is original I find is the way Tolstoy makes you try and identify personally with the feelings of each character at different junctures in their lives and you find your sympathies altering as they find themselves in changing circumstances.
The book is captivating from the outset and draws you in and makes you question even your own position and relationships. a feature of the book i find extremely clever is how Tolstoy makes characters forever changing under different circumstances-as we all do but maybe don't realise.
I haven't read any other reviews and have no idea if they see anything that i have in the work. It is one of the best reads and greatest books I have read, both in its style and substance.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By HORAK on 9 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way". With this opening the reader is brought at the heart of the novel: family life and the lives led by the separate members of families. The idea of a novel about the grand monde had long haunted Tolstoy as well as writing about a married lady of that world who would ruin herself. The two lovers, Anna and Vronsky think that in their relationship they can escape society, but find they cannot. Without the freedom of the society they live in their passion becomes a kind of prison. Their entourage is too much part of them: they need it too much and the attempt to do without it destroys them both.

All the characters in Anna Karenina are intensely real: the peasants in the fields, the people in Moscow, Stiva, Levin, Kitty, the Shcherbatskys. They all know each other, they live in the same world with the rest of the Russian upper class. The inner mental life and struggle of Levin reflects Tolstoy's own state of mind at the time he was writing. He had conservative views on marriage and childrearing which he thought were a woman's duty.

Is the novel out of date? Would Anna today get a divorce, marry Vronsky and live happily ever after? Tolstoy didn't think so Tragedies like that of Anna Karenina do not depend on social change and enlightened social arrangements.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nabila A on 25 Oct. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this back when I was in sixth form and I just had to get it on my kindle for another read. Thoroughly enjoyed this book and if there's people who like classic love stories, not that fifty shades of grey rubbish. Definitely worth a read.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Malcolm Tremain on 5 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Louise and Aylmer Maude's translation, as used by Wordsworth Classics, is by far the best translation of Anna Karenina. They translated what Tolstoy wrote, rather than putting their own spin on things, as Peaver and Volkhonsky have done. The Maude translation is also better than Garnett's groundbreaking work which tends to get a bit lost in places.
The famous opening lines, as translated by the Maudes read thus:
"All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way"
This is exactly how Tolstoy wrote it in the original Russian and it is exactly what he wanted the reader to understand.

However, the Peaver/Volkhonsky version translates Tolsoy's words slightly differently:
"All happy families are the same...etc"
This subtle difference may not not seem important but in fact it is very important. "Resemble" does not mean "the same" and the difference in approach to translation between the Maudes and Peaver is quite striking and makes a huge difference to the overall reading experience. While the Maudes give us, as near as possible, what Tolstoy actually wrote, given the sometimes impossible to translate differences between English and Russian, the Peavers give us the same story but not in the language that Tolstoy intended. What they give us is a slightly dry, modernised and ultimately flat reading of a what was once a beautifully written novel.

Garnett mis-translates the opening in her own fashion:
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

We may forgive Constance her errors simply because she was the one who first gave the great Russian writers to the English speaking world. But there are now better translations.

If you want to read Anna Karenina in language, nuance and meaning as intended by Tolstoy, read the Maude translation.
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