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Anna Karenina (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Oct 1995
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Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude, with an 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.
From the Back Cover
A famous legend surrounding the creation of Anna Karenina tells us that Tolstoy began writing a cautionary tale about adultery and ended up by falling in love with his magnificent heroine. It is rare to find a reader of the book who doesn't experience the same kind of emotional upheaval: Anna Karenina is filled with major and minor characters who exist in their own right and fully embody their mid-nineteenth-century Russian milieu, but it still belongs entirely to the woman whose name it bears, whose portrait is one of the truest ever made by a writer.See all Product description
From the Publisher
Celebrating 25 Years Of Classics
Wordsworth Editions have been producing their classics since 1992. With well over 250 titles in print, the combination of great value and top quality production has made them an enduringly popular choice with lovers of great literature.
The Perfect Choice for Schools
Schools are well used to having to work within a limited budget so Wordsworth's Classics are the perfect solution. With around 50 set texts on offer, all with exclusive introductions, they offer great value.
Over 400 Titles in Print
The Classics and Children's Classics are only part of the Wordsworth range, which features essential works of Philosophy, Economics and Poetry along with Tales of Mystery and Supernatural.
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It’s very verbose. There are long and detailed descriptions of things which, as far as I can see, add nothing to the forwarding of the plot. It could easily be half the size and tell the same story. It’s also quite a challenge to keep track of who everyone is, as every character has two (or three, or four) different names.
Levin (or Kostya, or Konstantin) is perhaps my favourite character. I actually found I rather disliked the title character, Anna, especially towards the end of the novel.
Although I struggled with this one, I’m glad I read it. It’s a classic that has been on my bookshelf for years. I don’t think it’s one I shall ever feel the need to revisit, though.
There are a number of universal personality types on display, which immediately offer the reader easy access. Oblonsky: superficial, fun-loving, sentimental, morally bankrupt; Vronsky: dashing army officer, successful, loved and admired, fatefully lovestruck; Karenin: serious, austere, respected bureaucrat, cuckold (emotionally stunted then traumatised); Koznyshev: the high-minded scholar, unsentimental, insular; Levin: the common man, often selfish and small-minded, beset by spiritual questions, socially awkward - yet, perhaps the most decent... And that's just the men.
The novel principally revolves around two romantic storylines, that of Levin/Kitty and Anna/Vronsky. It's emotionally charged throughout. The emotion is not always happy but it does feel authentic, if sometimes unremitting. Having said that, there are some deeply moving passages which do warrant all the attention Tolstoy lavishes on them: Nikolai Dmitrich's slow death; Levin and Kitty's wedding, for instance. I confess that I did find some sections a little laboured and surplus, such as the workings of Levin's farm - the threshing season. Also, the provincial Marshal elections Vronsky attends. I guess it's all part of the epic depiction of Russian life across the class divides though.
Ultimately, a highly readable, engaging novel. For such an epic it's strangely intimate. You really get inside the characters, especially the evolving ones (Levin, Karenin, Anna). And in Anna Karenina herself, Tolstoy has created a truly perplexing, infuriating and mysterious heroine.
I skipped the parts about agriculture in nineteenth century Russia as this did not interest me and I didn't see what bearing it had on the fates of the characters.
Obviously, this version is very similar to the earlier one, and this is a great classical story embracing love, betrayal, and contemporary Russian philosophical dilemmas. Some have complained about the complexity and interweaving of the somewhat parallel stories, but the outcome is a classical novel with both depth and breadth.
I have not given it 5 stars because there are a number (maybe 20 in the first 50%) of typographical errors left in the book: these should have been removed. This comment is just me nit-picking and should not put anyone off buying this version.
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