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Anna Karenina (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 4 Feb 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 151 customer reviews

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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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 331,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
I comment not on the book, but this edition. I assume few people will be convinced of the classic's merits (or lack thereof) based on an online review. However, I would like to alert the potential customer that this edition is positively riddled with typos. The notes, table of contents, and the actual pagination do not at all line up; the letter "l" is replaced by a "]" at times, dozens of words are clearly misspelled, a time is given as 8.2 pm; the list goes on. I have no idea whether or not the translation is faithful to the Russian; I do know it is far from faithful to the conventions of standard written English.
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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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