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Anna Karenina is the tragedy of married aristocrat and socialite Anna Karenina and her affair with the affluent Count Vronsky. The story starts when she arrives in the midst of a family broken up by her brother's unbridled womanizing—something that prefigures her own later situation, though with less tolerance for her by others. A bachelor, Vronsky is eager to marry her if she would agree to leave her husband Karenin, a government official, but she is vulnerable to the pressures of Russian social norms, her own insecurities and Karenin's indecision.
Although Vronsky and Anna go to Italy where they can be together, they have trouble making friends. Back in Russia, she is shunned, becoming further isolated and anxious, while Vronsky pursues his social life. Despite Vronsky's reassurances she grows increasingly possessive and paranoid about his imagined infidelity, fearing loss of control.
A parallel story within the novel is that of Konstantin Levin, a country landowner who desires to marry Kitty, sister to Dolly and sister-in-law to Anna's brother Oblonsky. Konstantin has to propose twice before Kitty accepts. The novel details Konstantin's difficulties managing his estate, his eventual marriage, and personal issues, until the birth of his first child.
”A magnificent drama of vengeance, infidelity, and retribution, Anna Karenina portrays the moving story of people whose emotions conflict with the dominant social mores of their time. Sensual, rebellious Anna falls deeply and passionately in love with the handsome Count Vronsky. When she refuses to conduct the discreet affair that her cold, ambitious husband (and Russian high society) would condone, she is doomed.
Set against the tragic love of Anna and Vronsky, the plight of the melancholy nobleman Konstantine Levin unfolds. In doubt about the meaning of life, haunted by thoughts of suicide, Levin's struggles echo Tolstoy's own spiritual crisis. But Anna's inner turmoil mirrors the own emotional imprisonment and mental disintegration of a woman who dares to transgress the strictures of a patriarchal world. In Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy brought to perfection the novel of social realism and created a masterpiece that bared the Russian soul.” -- See all Editorial Reviews
About the Author
Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian: Лев Никола́евич Толсто́й, pronounced [lʲef nʲɪkɐˈlaɪvʲɪt͡ɕ tɐlˈstoj] ( listen); 9 September [O.S. 28 August] 1828 – 20 November [O.S. 7 November] 1910), also known as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer, philosopher and political thinker who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Tolstoy was a master of realistic fiction and is widely considered one of the greatest novelists of all time. He is best known for two long novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).
Tolstoy first achieved literary acclaim in his 20s with his semi-autobiographical trilogy of novels, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (1852–1856) and Sevastopol Sketches (1855), based on his experiences in the Crimean War. His fiction output also includes two additional novels, dozens of short stories, and several famous novellas, including The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Family Happiness, and Hadji Murad. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays.
Tolstoy is equally known for his complicated and paradoxical persona and for his extreme moralistic and ascetic views, which he adopted after a moral crisis and spiritual awakening in the 1870s, after which he also became noted as a moral thinker, social reformer, and Georgist. His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and anarcho-pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Mohandas Gandhi,Martin Luther King, Jr., and James Bevel.
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