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Anna Karenina (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

Leo Tolstoy
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Oct 1995 Wordsworth Classics

Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.

This Wordsworth Edition includes an exclusive Introduction and Notes by E.B. Greenwood, University of Kent.

Anna Karenina is one of the most loved and memorable heroines of literature. Her overwhelming charm dominates a novel of unparalleled richness and density.

Tolstoy considered this book to be his first real attempt at a novel form, and it addresses the very nature of society at all levels,- of destiny, death, human relationships and the irreconcilable contradictions of existence. It ends tragically, and there is much that evokes despair, yet set beside this is an abounding joy in life's many ephemeral pleasures, and a profusion of comic relief.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New edition edition (1 Oct 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853262714
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853262715
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,231 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.

Product Description


"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) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'The greatest love story I've ever read' Andrew Davies --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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ALL happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As if it were written in our times 27 Mar 2012
By tony
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 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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112 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the time.... unforgettable 11 April 2001
By A Customer
I read Anna Karenina for the hype - so many people talk of it being one of the best books ever written. And I was interested in Tolstoy, who is a fascinating character.
At time of reading, I found the novel okay. The characters came alive on the page, and many of the scenes in the novel were beautifully delineated. But I found the pace too slow, and was bored by all Levin's socio-political musings on Russia at that time.
Months later, and I find that the book still resonantes in my mind. I find myself still thinking about Anna and her fate; about that excruciating moment where Karenin approaches total forgiveness and then veers away; about Dolly, Kitty and Oblonsky. About how different the world of Anna Karenina is from my own, in some ways, but still so relevant. And the differences are illuminating.
In this novel, Tolstoy manages to weave together a whole world of stories and people and events. I can't really describe it other than saying that it is a very very human story. Greater than the sum of its parts.
Don't read this book if you think you might become impatient 'getting through' it. It deserves better that that. But if you're reading these reviews wondering whether it's worth taking all that time to read one of the world's reputed classics, then my anonymous 25-year-old word, for what it's worth, is that yes, it definitely is.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic in the history of Russian literature 9 Jan 2007
"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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best translation of this glorious novel 5 Sep 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Characterisation
Really enjoyed this. Recommended. Preferred it to War and Peace. Makes you think through the hardships faced in swapping relationships.
Published 7 days ago by bergy2
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved the book
Published 9 days ago by Pauline Donaldson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A Russian dickens but no so scathing of the powers that be
Published 15 days ago by vicar
4.0 out of 5 stars Commendable
Suffers from the old serialized style but is a powerhouse of human sensibilities and consuming, colliding thoughts. A must to this day.
Published 24 days ago by Hengh Xiao
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
Published 28 days ago by Rudi Meier
3.0 out of 5 stars A story loosely wrapped around sociological and political debates.
I had read reviews of this book before I started reading it so I knew that there were many chapters totally devoted to political ideas. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Deborah Neal
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great value.
Published 29 days ago by MitchR
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great book you should have in your collection. The only minus is the look.
Published 1 month ago by Andreja L.
2.0 out of 5 stars Too long-winded
Dated but an interesting and useful insight into Russian society as it was. It is too long winded for me, I have to like something immediately and this did not capture me. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Stacey Tong
3.0 out of 5 stars It's hard going
I think it's a classic and the name is widely known.
I've been trying to get through it and after a struggle find that I've only read
The writing is detailed but... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gerald Pieti
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