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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: Review, summary, analysis and notes

Dive into 'Anna Karenina' by Leo Tolstoy with review, analysis, summary, and insightful reading notes.
Anna Karenina is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in book form in 1878. Many writers consider Anna Karenina the greatest work of literature ever, and Tolstoy himself called it his first true novel. 

It was initially released in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger.

A complex novel in eight parts, with more than a dozen major characters, it is spread over more than 800 pages, typically contained in two volumes. 

It deals with themes of betrayal, faith, family, marriage, Imperial Russian society, desire, and rural vs. city life. 

The plot centers on an extramarital affair between Anna and dashing cavalry officer Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky that scandalizes the social circles of Saint Petersburg and forces the young lovers to flee to Italy in search of happiness. 

However, after they return to Russia, their lives further unravel.

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. 

At the same time, Anna's inner turmoil mirrors the 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.

The story takes place against the backdrop of rapid transformations as a result of the liberal reforms initiated by Emperor Alexander II of Russia, with several major plot points taking place either on passenger trains or at stations in Saint Petersburg or elsewhere in Russia.

Trains are a recurring motif throughout the novel. For example, Anna and Vronsky met each other for the first time in a train station where they witnessed the death of a man which indicated the impact of modernization. 

Similarly, years later when Anna felt frustrated about love and was desperate in regard to her future life, she dazedly walked towards the rail intending to end her life. 

It also symbolizes that the tragedy of Anna was actually the result of the social contradiction.

Book: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 

Anna Karenina is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in book form in 1878. Widely considered to be one of the greatest works of literature ever written, Tolstoy himself called it his first true novel. Wikipedia
    • Originally published: 1877
    • Author: Leo Tolstoy
    • Characters: Vronsky, Anna Karenina, Konstantin Dmitrievich Levin
    • Pages: 864
    • Genres: Novel, Fiction, Literary realism
    • Original title: Анна Каренина
book-review-anna-karenina-by-leo-tolstoy

About the Author: Anna Karenina 

Leo Tolstoy (1828~1910), master of Russian literature. With his life's hard work, he reached the peak of European critical realism literature at that time and occupied an important position in world literature. 

He portrayed the vast life scenes of the Russian people and was called "a mirror of the Russian Revolution." Representative as "War and Peace", "Anna Karenina" and "Resurrection".

Excerpts from the original text: Anna Karenina 

"This is what I want to say to you. Women---this is a big stumbling block in a man's career. It is difficult to fall in love with a woman and to do a career. It is necessary to avoid obstacles and love one as you want. For women, there is only one way to get married. How can I tell you what I think? 

"Sepkhovskoy, who loves metaphors, said, "Wait a minute, wait a minute, there is it, it's like carrying it on your back I have a piece of baggage, but I have to free my hands to work. The only way is to tie the baggage to my back. This is marriage. 

I had this experience when I got married. My hands are freed up all at once. But if I don’t get married With such a burden on your back, you won’t be able to free up one of your hands, and you won’t be able to do anything.”---Quoted on page 302.

Book Summary

Anna's psychological monologue before her death can be regarded as the most wonderful psychological description of the nineteenth century. 

It is difficult to imagine what state Tolstoy was in when he wrote these passages. The person who wrote these sentences seems to be Anna herself. 

If the part where Anna commits suicide is taken as the climax of the whole novel, then the person standing on the highest point overlooking it is not Tolstoy, but the God of Death.

   The shadow of death has always shrouded the entire novel, from the beginning when Anna and her lover Vronsky met the man who committed suicide by lying on the train, to Anna's life in danger during childbirth, and then Vronsky's death. 

From attempted suicide to Nikolai's difficult death process, even the author's autobiographical character Levin has thought about suicide many times... 

After Anna made up her mind to die, the pace of the novel suddenly accelerated, running forward at the acceleration of death. , just in time to meet the speeding train... 

Anna won the battle of love at the cost of double destruction of body and soul. "Even her death was the death of a hateful woman with no religious beliefs." She will never go to heaven.

   Tolstoy added a subtitle to the twentieth section of the fifth volume of the novel. This may be the only subtitle in all of Tolstoy's novels. This title is "Death". 

The content of this section is the death process of Levin's brother Nicholas. After the priest finished praying, he said "He is finished" and wanted to walk away. Suddenly the deceased made a sharp and clear voice from deep in his chest:

" Not yet... soon."

  After a minute, his face became cheerful, and a smile appeared under his mustache.

  Nicholas had long been a fallen man. When he was dying, he prayed frantically. Although this was just a "temporary and selfish manifestation of delusional recovery", in any case, he was conquered by death, and his appearance was rough. , but he was gentle on the inside, and there was still a smile on his face after death.

   The title "Death" appears almost a quarter of the way through the second half of the book. It seems to have a dynamic meaning. It is like a fulcrum. 

In this position, the redemption and hope in the last part of the novel can be swayed. To the highest place.

    When Nicholas died, Levin's wife Kitty was pregnant. Of course, Tolstoy was not engaging in reincarnation. 

He wanted to write about the topic of "death" more comprehensively and with more tension. , it is not dialectical enough to only draw from life without drawing from life. 

Facing the death of his brother, Levin's fear of death further deepened, but at the same time, "he still felt that he had to live and love. 

He felt that it was love that saved him from despair, and this love, Under the threat of despair, becomes stronger and purer.”

    This may be the difference between men and women in that era. Men often regard love as a bridge to the other side, whether the other side is metaphysical or physical, while women regard love itself as the goal of pursuit. 

This kind of love may be highly metaphysical to fill the vacancy in the spiritual realm, or it may go the other way. 

As Vronsky’s friend Serpukhovskoy said: “We create great careers because of love, but it’s always practical.” Unfortunately, Anna falls into the former category. In this misplaced emotional appeal, she will eventually be disappointed.
 
   If he doesn't love me but is kind to me out of a sense of responsibility, but doesn't have the emotion I desire, this is a thousand times worse than resentment!

   Tolstoy did not give his female characters the desire and ability to seek religious salvation like men. He is not so much cruel as a kind of persistence. 

Just like his own endless pursuit of ideological progress, he seems to want Anna to plunge into the pursuit of love in a similar manner without hesitation. 

Anna had a premonition of destruction from the beginning, which was also a determination. Before leaving, she said, "God, forgive me for everything!" How did

    Tolstoy resolves this contradiction? He did not deny Anna's pursuit of love and subsequent actions, but he led her to destruction step by step. 

According to the mainstream view, Tolstoy wanted to use this to reflect the sad situation of women in society at that time. 

But since Tolstoy relied on religious belief for salvation, why didn't God come to help her at this time?

I can only think of four explanations: 
  1. Although Tolstoy sympathizes with women, he is still a patriarchal person after all. He does not believe that women need and can obtain salvation at the level of faith; 
  2. This "doubts tragedy but also longs for it" "Tragedy" (Bloom) people want to use the incident of women's destruction for love to complete the moral mission in the aesthetics of tragedy (although according to traditional standards, women as tragic protagonists still lack a "falling height"); 
  3. This is exactly a reflection of Tolstoy’s weakness discussed by Lenin in "Tolstoy and the Proletarian Struggle" and other articles; 
  4. He has a naturalistic attitude towards Anna’s tragedy, and there are always some people who have to suffer, there are always some people who will not be able to enter heaven, and some people will suffer and will not be able to go to heaven, but other people cannot be willing to fall.

     In any case, we cannot expect Tolstoy, a man who "experienced human life" (Shklovsky), to also be responsible for finding a way out for us, otherwise, he would really become God. 

At the beginning of the novel, it is said that "happy families are all similar, and every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." 

This has already acknowledged the natural state of the world in advance. Dylan Thomas said that "even death cannot rule the world." Likewise,, neither fortunately nor unfortunately.

    The two main lines in the novel, one is the tragic event of the destruction of Anna's family, and the other is the gradually brightening happy life of Levin's family, just like the alternating bright and dark sides of the moon. 

The same thing is that both are following the rules of the world. The rules grew naturally, albeit with different endings.

    However, there is not much intersection between the two main lines, and there is no mutual influence on the narrative process. They develop independently. If they are separated, they can almost be transformed into two independent novels. The protagonists of the two main lines, Anna and Levin, only met once, and then dispersed, returning to their own fortunes and misfortunes. Although there is some vague spiritual connection, there is no resonance.

    In "Narrative and Description", Lukács once compared the description of horse racing in "Anna Karenina" and Zola's "Nana", believing that the former's description plays a necessary role in the entire narrative, while Zola's description Just describes a naturalistic attitude for the sake of description. 

With Tolstoy's superior intelligence and narrative skills, it should not be too difficult to make some kind of narrative connection between these two main lines.

    There is no difference between light and dark in these two clues. They do not reinforce or imply each other. Instead, they roll parallel to each other along the heavy axis of the theme. 

One is despair, the other is hope, one is destruction, and the other is redemption. However, this is not the thesis and antithesis. 

Behind the simple opposition between the two, the connection between the two that is difficult to penetrate with reason stands the hidden God. 

This brings a strong artistic tension to the novel. Only with the huge energy ignited by this tension can the theme run to such a profound place.

   Therefore, I think Tolstoy did not deliberately make some correlation marks between the two main lines (like those who are afraid of getting lost) because he transcended the civic consciousness in this kind of writing. 

In this sense, I can understand why Proust said that in Balzac's works "humanity is judged by a literary man who wants to write a masterpiece, but in Tolstoy's works it is judged by a peaceful god." 

" Trying to establish a connection between the two main lines (whether this connection comes from narrative involvement or content contrast) is to make the redemption and destruction represented by the two main lines explain each other. 

In essence, it is transplanting a kind of Cause and effect, and what Levin finally realized is that at the level of fate and belief, all this is "beyond reason".

    Anna's story is a tragedy that makes people pity and fear; Levin's story is a spiritual epic that brings courage and strength. 

Tolstoy used novels to balance two great art forms and also made the true meaning of life possible. unfold naturally. Lukács said in "Theory of Novel" that Tolstoy:

    yearns for a life that relies on the immortal rhythm of nature, a life that moves with the natural rhythm of life and death, a life that abandons narrow divisions, separation, and fragmentation. Rigid, unnatural forms of life.

   So the logic of the novel becomes the logic of nature, and the language of the novel becomes the language of life. It does not rely on complicated details. 

If Proust enriches the senses of the world by generously distributing metaphors like Santa Claus, Tolstoy is like a hunter, shooting down language with accurate marksmanship. Obstacles given by the world. 

"It takes time to appreciate how metaphorical his (Tolstoy's) conception of nature was, for his bright simplicity of style is a triumph of rhetoric" (Bloom).

    Gorky said that Tolstoy's "aristocratic charm belongs to noble wildness", and Proust pointed out:

  The huge scenes of harvesting, hunting, skating, etc. in "Anna Karenina" seem to be deliberately cutting off the rest of the story. The large open space gives a wider impression. 

During the whole summer between Vronsky's conversations there seemed to be vast green pastures in need of mowing.
 
   The former has a powerful summary, while the latter has an astonishing sensibility. They mark the natural character of Tolstoy's novels in terms of overall view and details.
   
    As for the status of the novel "Anna", we are tired of hearing the mainstream evaluations in literary history. Let's listen to the opinions of two arrogant people. One is Nabokov. 

He said in the interview: "I think " "Anna Karenina" is the greatest literary work of the 19th century." One is Spengler, who said: ""Anna Karenina" is unrivaled."

    The novel ends with Levin's spiritual awakening. Through a series of personal life experiences, he realized that the reason he had questioned religion based on reason in the past was just because he was too lonely, and his loneliness was caused precisely by a lack of love. Levin found peace of mind and happiness in his own way.

     Although some people say that "spiritual preaching in Tolstoy's novels often becomes the fabrication of absurd plots" (Thomas Mann), compared with "Resurrection", these passages in "Anna Karenina" make people feel It is necessary and natural, more contagious, and more convincing. 

Levin is Tolstoy's autobiographical character, and this kind of spiritual exploration is Tolstoy's spiritual autobiography. 

But when I thought that Tolstoy did not actually achieve complete peace of mind after this, and he could not withstand the continuous tossing in spirit and practice, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed.

   Is there really no eternal destination once and for all?

   He smashed the quiet lake surface by himself and continued to paddle with his big hands. At the age of 82, he resolutely broke with the aristocratic life and ran away from home to realize his ideals. 

On November 7, 1910, the 10th day after running away, He died of pneumonia during the trip to southern Russia... Perhaps this kind of spirit and action are the most empowering and inspiring.

    Wittgenstein said: He is a real person and he has the right to write.

Book Review

This is the thickest literary masterpiece I have ever read so far. It is one of Tolstoy's three masterpieces handed down from generation to generation. 

Among the few classics I read in high school, there was also "Resurrection", but Completely forgotten. 

Later, after reading his "War and Peace", you can have a deeper understanding of the life and spiritual world of this world literary giant through Roland Roland's "Celebrities".

    It’s hard to imagine that I read most of this book intermittently during the Spring Festival at home, through mobile phones and books, in various environments (buses, buses, bedside, McDonald’s, visiting relatives and friends...), and I also read it intermittently. 

It was only after returning to the familiar room in Wuxi that I could finish. And now, another week has passed, and I am writing my reading notes with trepidation. It's really scary to criticize such a masterpiece. 

I can only honestly record the various memories, thoughts, and emotions that remain in my mind at this moment for comfort. 

    Although the title of the book is "Anna", it does not use her as the absolute protagonist, but two main lines, with Anna and Levin as the core respectively. 

By describing the characters, emotions, and events that happened around them, the book comprehensively and profoundly Analyzes the living conditions of the Russian aristocracy in the nineteenth century. 

The novel uses love and married life as the main carrier of description, and revolves around the development and ending of four relationships: Anna and her husband Alexei, Anna and Vronsky, Levin and Kitty, and Stepan, and Dolly. 

Wen's changes in thought are used to express the author's outlook on life, world outlook, love outlook, and the outlook on family life that he admires. 

The lives, work, interpersonal relationships, and emotional states of these characters are complex and intertwined into a large network, covering all social conditions before the aristocratic class is about to decline.

    Anna is an almost perfect female character. No matter in terms of appearance, behavior, conversation, knowledge, cultivation, morality, and many other aspects mentioned in the book, even when viewed from the perspective of the aristocratic class, she cannot be more perfect... 

If the emotions and desires stored deep in her heart had not been dug out by Vronsky, she would have been welcomed and appreciated by all the upper-class people. 

Even when her morality and soul had fallen to the deepest level, the author had little regard for appearance and appearance. 

In terms of behavior, he still gave the highest praise. From this perspective, she is not a character worthy of criticism but is full of tragedy, arousing people's pity and grief, and venting this anger to the people around her and society.

Anna is no longer young. She is the mother of an 8-year-old child and loves her son deeply. She has a high appreciation of art and has shown certain talents in painting and engineering. 

She can even read a large number of books and write novels. She possesses all the charm of a woman. She can quickly become the center of attention in any social situation and easily capture the hearts of men, even the newly married Levine is no exception. 

She is also blameless in terms of morality. She devoted a lot of care and love to the workers who committed suicide at the station and her sister-in-law. 

She also treated her brother's children with love. Even the ladies and ladies, with all the jealousy that women deserve, could not be angry with her.

    However, all these perfections began to gradually shake just because of Vronsky's glance at her on the train and were completely torn apart with the release of suppressed passion. 

Her only misfortune, the source of all pain, came from her husband's indifference and hypocrisy towards her. On the surface, her family is also a combination that everyone envies. 

Her husband Alexei holds great power in the officialdom and has a prosperous career. He just cares too much about his social status and devotes himself almost entirely to his career, while neglecting his family, especially Anna. 

The two sides maintain superficial harmony, but a huge gap has formed. Anna simply hated him and saw her as a beautiful, well-oiled machine. 

If you put aside the emotional factors, this is indeed an admirable political machine, running wholeheartedly in accordance with all the requirements of aristocratic society and officialdom. 

Even all material needs for family life and wife are provided. However, this is a machine, after all, torturing Anna's energetic and energetic soul day and night.

    A woman is like a beautiful flower. If she does not receive emotional nourishment, she may wither like a rose and gradually wither under the erosion of time; or she may grow wild like a poppy flower and desperately absorb all the dew. The sun continues to bloom with endless charm, but it is full of toxicity.

    What mistake did Vronsky make? He is pursuing his own love. He was simply fascinated by Anna's beauty and went crazy, giving up everything he owned. He has high praise in the circle. 

He is handsome, handsome, and has talents that are difficult to match among his peers. He is a young officer with a bright future. 

Friends and superiors all hope to help him obtain a higher position. He has a lot of wealth, is generous and generous, is willing to help all his friends, and spends money to build hospitals for the poor. 

He even had a great talent for painting and a great appreciation of art. He is proud at heart, like a pure and elegant horse, but he can win the love of almost everyone.

    Just like taking opium by mistake because of the beauty of poppy flowers, you are crazy and unable to extricate yourself. For Anna, he gave up everything that aristocratic society had given him. 

He is willing to bear the contempt of the aristocratic society for him, he is willing to leave the bright career that can be easily obtained, and he can even sever the relationship with his mother and family. 

He could stay away from everything, spend time abroad and in the countryside with Anna, and try painting and manor life that he couldn't love. 

Under the great grief, he could not even care about his life and attempted suicide twice. Shouldn't these trigger profound sympathy and thinking? But instead, put all the responsibility for this tragedy on him?

    As Anna’s husband, should Alexey be ruthlessly criticized? He was indeed indifferent to Anna and his son, and it was true that after he discovered the relationship between Anna and Vronsky, he became more cold and unfeeling towards Anna, and even refused to divorce, leaving himself, Anna, Vronsky, and his son Seryoza all in trouble. 

Unable to escape, oppressed, and excluded by the huge moral carrier of the family. No matter how touching and beautiful Anna is, he just devotes all his energy to his career and is unable to have love or even basic emotional attention for Anna. 

He also felt all the pain, and this great grief even made his morals sublimated to a high level at the religious level, and he tolerated the betrayal that caused the failure of his career and the breakdown of his family. 

For a moment, he even felt pity for the child his wife had secretly had with someone else. No one could find anything against him except Anna, and it even aroused great sympathy, because in a sense his whole life was destroyed as well.

    Anna and Vronsky, in their pursuit of love, not only bear the contempt of the entire society and all interpersonal relationships but also the heavy pressure from the soul and morality. 

The former is secondary, but what really causes Anna to struggle is her apparent awareness that she is being corrupted by this intense emotional need. 

She hesitated, she fought, and after giving birth to her daughter with Vronsky, she also made up her mind to sever her relationship with him, because at least she still loved her son Seryozha deeply, and this was her only concern until the end of her life... 

But after meeting Vronsky, who attempted suicide, she completely fell into the endless abyss and became a slave to lust. She devoted the last of her life to Vronsky's emotional care for her. 

This is just like a poppy flower that grows crazily. Its demand for sunlight and nutrients expands infinitely, and it cannot tolerate a little loss, otherwise, it will wither immediately. 

The fruits of her love with Vronsky also became something she hated. So even in Italy, far away from all the troubles, under the influence of the capital of painting and art, she could not find any comfort. 

She could only be peaceful for a moment, and then she became melancholy again. This melancholy and erotic greed has gradually become a burden to Vronsky, oppressing him and unable to breathe. 

They become each other's only soul comfort, but they still cannot cherish the source of love that has gradually withered and drawn from each other more wantonly.

    They have realized that they cannot live like this. The ideal love scene lasts for less than a year before they return to their original aristocratic social destination. 

In Petersburg, in Moscow, and in the countryside, he even started to build new manors and prayed for the divorce of Anna and Alexei to use marriage to try to find a final way out. 

However, at this time, Anna was so paranoid that she could not blend in any tiny dust between the two parties, how could it possibly help him reproduce his children. They made this final struggle but fell even faster into the desolation that had become a swamp. 

Overwhelmed, Vronsky wants to escape but is restrained even more tightly by Anna, because Anna cannot survive for a moment without him. 

At the last moment, Anna even develops a desire to seduce Vronsky's friend and Kitty's husband Levin in revenge. What a terrible fall. It reminds me of Madame Bovary's pursuit of love and her ultimate fall into the abyss of lust!

    Finally, in the first and irreversible quarrel, Vronsky hopes for a moment of freedom, but Anna chooses to commit suicide. This was the final ending of the tragedy. Vronsky lost his soul and went to the front line.

    Fortunately, there is also Levin, a semi-autobiographical figure of the author himself, which makes this work warm and full. If the image of Anna makes this work profound and powerful, then Levine makes it further sublimated and great. 

The gloom caused by Anna's fall and tragedy is calmed and enriched bit by bit by Levin's ideological transformation and happy marriage.

    Perhaps Levin is too ordinary, and his life and destiny are not as ups and downs and exciting as readers expect. Everything seems so mediocre. 

He does not have the cynicism, melancholy, and profoundness of his brother Nikolai, nor does he have the talent, wisdom, and indifference of his brother Sergey. 

He is even a little dull and seems a little stupid about the rules of the game of the aristocratic class in which he lives. 

He also escaped with disdain for local politics, committees, and campaigns that the landowning aristocracy was passionate about, completely alienating him from his only opportunity for career success. 

He does not have Stepan's smoothness and grace, nor does he have Vronsky's handsome demeanor. He has doubts about religion from beginning to end, so he cannot produce the sublimation of religious morality like Karenin. 

He didn't even look like a noble, but just a landowner, a simple and honest landowner who got along with the farmers. 

He cares about farmers and his own estate. He likes to cut grass and work with farmers. He also hopes to benefit the people and increase his own wealth through positive changes in production relations. 

However, the things he is best at and passionate about also failed... For his own thoughts and books, he went abroad to investigate, practiced personally, and consulted and discussed with many people. 

It almost became his only spiritual sustenance after being rejected by Kitty, but he put it aside because of the busy family life after marriage.

    He was neither young nor aristocratic. When he was nearly thirty years old and went to visit Stepan, he was even blocked by the gatekeeper for a long time. 

He loved Kitty, and the good impression he had brought on her by their long association was immediately wiped out by Vronsky's grace and talent. Kitty was obsessed with Vronsky's seduction and rejected Levin's enthusiasm. 

This was an almost fatal blow to Levin. Depressed and depressed, he became more immersed in things on the farm, trying to get rid of this mental trouble through intense physical work. 

He is shy, shy, endearingly simple, and knows almost nothing about relationships, marriage, and family life. It is only because of his strong love that he is driven to confess his love to Kitty again. 

Even after he received a positive answer and even long after the marriage, he still doubted the reality of this kind of happiness. 

He was even unprepared for the preparations for the marriage, Kitty's pregnancy, and the birth of the child, and seemed anxious and at a loss. If it weren't for Kit's care and comfort, his married life would have been a mess!

    In the end, he failed to successfully reform his manor, and even his own books failed to be completed. The only satisfying thing was that he and Kitty finally got married, but this peak of happiness was immediately replaced by the troubles of family life that followed. 

The novel ends here, which seems too hasty in terms of storyline. Because the stories of Anna and Vronsky have their destinations, he is still wandering and thinking, and the conclusion he draws does not bring clear philosophical comfort to the readers.

    However, perhaps it is Levin's ordinariness that highlights the greatness of the work. This kind of ordinaryness appears so real and profound under the author's creation. 

It allows the most ordinary readers to penetrate deeply into Levin's inner world, experience Levin's most subtle emotional touches, and follow every change and progress of Levin's thinking.

    He does not have to have a great career, but he tirelessly pursues the perfection of his own work; he does not envy the status and reputation of the upper class, but he can maintain innocent and pleasant friendships with the servants and farmers around him; he does not wear a hypocritical mask, 

But he won the love of almost all his aristocratic friends; he didn't have a lot of wealth, but he could live happily with his wife and friends; he was dull by nature, 

but he was constantly thinking about the meaning of life; he even lacked a noble temperament, but he was so simple and lovely, never let anyone doubt; he hated the leisure and chicness in the club, 

but enjoyed the enthusiasm and freedom brought by work; he also appears timid and shy in pursuing love, but he wins the most passionate love from Kiti.

    Stepan won the popularity of the entire upper class, but only had Levin as his only true friend; Dolly was unhappy in her marriage and troubled in the lives of her five children, but she could feel real happiness in Levin's family; her brother Nico La felt resentful of everything in the world, 

but at the last moment of his life, he could only get some warmth in the world from Levin; his elder brother Sergei was lonely, profound, knowledgeable, and had a high status, so he could safely hand over all his property to him. 

Levin took care of things without asking, gave the most patient answers to his brother's stupid questions every time, and was always relieved at his home; Anna also gained the only pleasure at the end of her life by winning Levin's favor. 

Vronsky had almost all the advantages of aristocratic characteristics, but he immediately lost to Levin in the eyes of the old Duke. 

His old housekeeper treated him more like a friend than a servant, and his farmers even loved working with him without any class grudges. Everyone seemed to think that Levin had many shortcomings, but they could not be angry or disgusted with him, they all sincerely liked him.

    Wealth, status, talent, beauty, elegance, cultivation, youth, conversation, etiquette, these so-called advantages seem to be impossible to find in Levin. 

However, the various advantages respected in that aristocratic era and in today's society have brought endless troubles to other aristocratic characters in the book. 

On the surface, the aristocrats described by the author are worthy of our envy in almost every aspect, but their unhappiness is also so real that it is almost impossible to doubt, and ultimately they have a profound understanding of the vast misfortune of this class. 

I am afraid that this is also the final expression that the author hopes to use the image of Levin.

    Levin is sincere but not hypocritical, hard-working but not greedy for pleasure, has a strong sense of morality but does not blindly follow religious beliefs, pursues equality without any ambition for the aristocratic circle, is serious and pragmatic without being delusional and arrogant, treats others with enthusiasm without seeking benefits, and has a strong thirst for knowledge. 

Rather than blindly follow authority, love nature, and casualness but hate urban life, have self-esteem and self-love without belittling oneself, follow one's inner emotional will rather than follow popular culture, long for peace of mind but reject the superficial glitz of life, have firm beliefs and not care about other people's evaluations, and have a positive attitude toward life. Be satisfied without craving excessive wealth.

    All of his ordinary and ordinary advantages, when combined, show his brilliance and greatness. 

These seemingly useless advantages that are looked down upon by contemporary elites and aristocrats can lead to a truly happy life and a perception of the full meaning of life. 

The so-called advantages of those who are successful, elegant, elite, and powerful are the endless troubles and harms that capital culture brings to this society and to themselves. 

The aristocratic class was like this in the past, but today's capital society is still blindly pursuing money, material, pleasure, status, power, and short-sightedness, which has led to the moral decline of the entire society, a serious reduction in happiness, environmental degradation, indifference in interpersonal friendship, and extravagance and waste. 

    All these troubled the author, and he wanted to explain life clearly.

    From the death of his brother Nicholas, Levin felt the fear of death and a sense of belonging for the first time. His short life, compared to the entire history, nature, and universe, is like a bubble. 

It will burst after a short period of time, leaving nothing behind and no meaning. A huge sense of emptiness eroded Levin, and the only way to end this emptiness seemed to be death. 

This made him unable to escape and even wanted to commit suicide several times. But he didn't after all, he continued to live.

    The materialistic natural theory could not bring him any answers, and the opposing philosophical explanations seemed to be only effective in academic mutual criticism, and still could not explain to him what the meaning of life was. 

In the end, he sought help from the religion he had long given up on. This was proven to be nothing by the development of natural science, but at this moment, it was more significant than any philosophical thought.

    "Some people live to satisfy their own desires; others live to obey the truth, do according to God's will, and to save their souls." "Living is not to satisfy desires! People should not live for their own desires. 

We should not live for what we understand, what we are obsessed with, what we yearn for, but should live for something incomprehensible, for a God who no one can understand and no one can determine." "If there is no such

    thing If I don’t know why I should live for God instead of my own desires, then what kind of person will I be? How will I spend my life?” “If he doesn’t know why he lives, then no matter how hard he thinks,, and still can't imagine what kind of beast he will become."

    "Let us indulge our desires and thoughts, forget God and the Creator, what will happen? Or we don't understand what is good, and we don't understand the moral principles What is evil, so what will happen?”

    In religion, every doctrine may serve the truth, but it does not serve to satisfy personal desires.

    God is "love"! Faith is "good"!

    This kind of belief brings peace of mind, and the happiness it brings can enrich one's life.

    Belief in God and goodness is the only mission of mankind.

    In the midst of human suffering, only love and faith can bring solace.

    "If you forget yourself and love others, you will be able to feel at ease and be happy. Don't just stop at verbal praise, but devote yourself wholeheartedly to the new life that is unfolding in front of you." "

    My whole life, no matter what happens, not only will every minute not be wasted as before, but it will have a meaning that I have a right to make it have a definite good!".

Book Analysis

Anyone who has read "Anna Karenina" may be as confused as I am: Why does this book named after the heroine devote nearly half of its space to a person who is not related to her? The man - Levin.

As a novel, the structure of "Anna Karenina" is very special. Anna and Vronsky are one main line, and Levin and Kitty are another main line. These two lines intersect and intertwine countless times, and there have been many deep bonds. 

However, Anna and Levin, the soul characters of the two main lines, have never met each other. They do not have their first and last meeting until the last eighth of the novel.

As early as more than a hundred years ago, a reader with the same confusion had the opportunity to directly question the author, Tolstoy, believing that this strange novel structure did not conform to the principles of "architecture".

However, Tolstoy retorted: "On the contrary, I am proud of 'architecture' - the round arches are built so that people cannot notice where the vault is." 

He explained, "This building The connection between buildings does not depend on the relationship between plot and characters but on an inner connection.”

What exactly is the “inner connection” Tolstoy talks about? This is exactly what this article wants to explore.

1. Travelers on the journey of life

When Anna was 17 years old, she followed her aunt's arrangement, married Karenin, who was 20 years older than her and gave birth to a son. 

During the years of boring marriage, the old-fashioned and hypocritical Karenin only cared about his official career and was full of bureaucratic clichés. Anna's cheerful and enthusiastic nature was severely suppressed.

At this time, she went to Moscow to mediate the conflict between her brother and her sister-in-law and met the handsome officer Vronsky, and they were fascinated by each other. 

Anna knew very well that this relationship was immoral, and that her brother's sister-in-law Kitty was having a passionate fight with Vronsky, and she should not fight for love. 

She returned home to Petersburg, originally thinking of letting it go, but as a result, the infatuated Vronsky pursued her feverishly, giving her the romance and passion she had dreamed of, and Anna couldn't help but indulge in it.

On the other side, Kitty was waiting for Vronsky's proposal, so she rejected Levin's love. 

After witnessing Vronsky's transference, the heartbroken Kitty and her family went abroad to recuperate in a hot spring. Levin, who felt humiliated, also went abroad to inspect agriculture. 

After they returned to China, Kitty's sister Tao Li tried her best to bring them together, so that they fell deeply in love with each other in a new state of mind and got married with everyone's blessing.

Miraculously, Anna and Levin's interpersonal network is unusually close - they know everyone around each other, and even their partners are almost married, so they also regard each other's partners as love rivals. 

Although they had heard each other's names from countless people, they still didn't know each other.

However, in my opinion, Anna and Levin are the most suitable partners. They have too many things in common, and they are all noble qualities that are rare in that class: sincerity, simplicity, kindness, aversion to hypocrisy, a sense of justice, and the ability to think independently. , Dare to declare war on mainstream society for ideals...

Whenever I see them suffering in their respective relationships, when Anna accuses Vronsky of engaging in ostentatious social interactions, and when Levin laments Kitty's lack of depth of thought, I can't help but imagine what would happen if this were the case. Is it the other person who is always by their side?

The two most true souls are ups and downs in their respective destinies. They have their closest lovers by their side, but they taste the bitterness of spiritual loneliness. 

They are travelers on each other's destiny, extremely close but never integrated. There is no family affection, no love, or even friendship. This bizarre sense of absurdity made me lament the cruelty of fate.

It wasn't until Tolstoy said that analogy about dome architecture that I suddenly realized: The reason why I think they are the most suitable partners is because I see the light in their souls. And this light is what Tolstoy refers to as the "inner connection."

2. Spiritual fellow travelers

On the surface, Anna is enthusiastic and loves literature and art, while Levin is serious and reserved, obsessed with agriculture. They are completely different in personality and hobbies. 

However, if you look at the fate they chose, you will see a very similar spiritual core.

Anna's husband, Karenin, has a successful official career and is a "respectable" husband that many women would choose. Even if you lack interest, you can still find one or even several lovers outside of marriage. This is a common choice for the ladies around Anna. 

However, there is no cheating noble lady like Anna who dares to abandon her family and children and fly away while pregnant with her lover's child when the divorce is rejected.

Such a desperate attempt to strive for happiness is not "respectable" enough in the eyes of those who are just trying to take advantage of the situation. Therefore, while other women flirted with their lovers and still thrived, Anna was ostracized by the entire social world. They isolated her, criticized her, and even humiliated her.

Anna's love for life and longing for love were both due to her character and environmental factors. At that time, Russia's outdated feudal system was under great impact from the Western bourgeoisie. Levin was also affected, mainly in agriculture.

As a big landowner, Levin hoped that farmers would be prosperous and Russia would be prosperous and powerful. However, the economic situation in rural Russia at that time worried him deeply: farmers had no land and were unwilling to work for landlords. The contradiction between farmers and landlords could not be reconciled, and agriculture was in trouble. It is a vital part of the Russian economy.

With a naive enthusiasm, Lie advocated the implementation of a "halving system" to increase farmers' enthusiasm. That is to say, half of the harvest went to the farmers and half to the landlords. 

But this approach can only be an illusion in the end. Unless the land ownership problem is solved, farmers cannot have real enthusiasm for work, so Levin's reform approach will not work.

Anna and Levin, one pursues the true meaning of love, and the other pursues career reform, both strive to fight against the mainstream ideas of the time, and both choose to declare war on the outdated system. 

However, such mavericks are not understood and understood by the people around them. support.

Although they fight in different fields, they are true spiritual companions. Sadly, despite their great determination, perseverance, and eager expectations, they inevitably failed.

Vronsky, whom Anna wanted to hold on to, became more and more indifferent; Levin wanted to reform agriculture with new and dilapidated ideas but was trampled under his feet by old ideas. At this moment, these two losers finally reached the intersection of fate.

Levin went to visit Anna on the recommendation of Oblonsky. On seeing her, Levin fell almost immediately under the spell of her enchanting beauty. Anna is generous, steady, and dignified, fully understands Levin's witty remarks, and can express her own unique opinions.

In addition to her intelligence and elegance, what impressed Levin most was Anna's virtue of honesty. She did not hide her difficult situation in front of him. You know, the entire social world was ashamed of her at that time. And Levin also received Anna's heartfelt appreciation for his frank and sincere attitude.

"What a wonderful, lovely, and pitiful woman!" After leaving, Levin held an almost heartbreaking pity for Anna and even worried that Vronsky could not understand her. Isn't this love?

However, such a precious meeting was a little too late. It could not change Levin's responsibility and loyalty to his wife Kitty, nor could it stop Anna's despair in seeking death.

3. The opposite ending

The essential similarity between Anna and Levin is also reflected in the fact that after their dreams were shattered - due to the failure of love and career, they turned to doubt the meaning of life and had thoughts of seeking death.

As early as when Anna first met Vronsky, the tragedy occurred that the railway worker died tragically under the wheel, which seemed to have laid the shadow of death for this unethical love. 

Later, Anna became pregnant with Vronsky's child and suffered severe bleeding during delivery. She was forgiven by her husband Karenin on her deathbed. 

After seeing all this, Vronsky was also overwhelmed by multiple pressures and returned home and shot himself. It can be said that Vronsky's love for Anna reached its peak at this time.

However, Anna miraculously survived, and then she tasted Karenin's consistent ruthlessness and Vronsky's declining love. 

Therefore, Anna thought more than once that she should die during childbirth. This would be the best outcome for her and everyone.

Therefore, Anna wants to win this love war and punish Vronsky with fierce means. In the end, she chooses to throw herself under the speeding train. In the words of Vronsky's mother, it is "a dirty death of a dirty woman." Law."

In fact, Tolstoy had already foreshadowed such a terrible ending in the preface - "It is mine to retaliate, and I will retaliate." This sentence comes from the Bible, and its original meaning is that only God can judge the sins of the world, and the world has no right to comment.

Tolstoy further elaborated in his answer to Veresayev: "I chose this inscription, as I have explained, simply to express the idea that the bad things people do have their painful consequences. This does not come from man, but from God; Anna Karenina experienced this firsthand.”

If this is not enough evidence of the author's condemning attitude towards Anna, another strong piece of evidence comes from his overall view of men and women.

Five years before writing "Anna Karenina", that is, in 1868, Tolstoy said in an article entitled "On Marriage and Women's Duty":

"The vocation of men is to be the worker bees of the hive of human society, which is infinitely diverse, while the vocation of mothers, without whom it would be impossible to reproduce, is the only certainty... 

Even so, women often fail to see This vocation and choose false, that is, other vocations…Thus the more a woman abandons her personal pursuits in order to devote herself to her vocation as a mother, the more perfect she becomes.”

Obviously, according to Tolstoy's point of view, Anna is very imperfect, because she put her personal lust and happiness ahead of her vocation to reproduce, abandoned the child she loved deeply, and after giving birth to a daughter for Vronsky, I don’t plan to have children in the future either. 

From this point of view, Tolstoy's attitude towards Anna is clear, and it is reasonable to arrange such a tragic ending for her.

On the other hand, Levin also experienced the shattering of his dreams. He vigorously carried out agricultural reforms and personally participated in fieldwork, but in the end, he achieved nothing. 

This kind of extreme mental depression cannot be comforted even by a loving wife and beloved children. He thought about suicide so many times that he had to hide the rope to avoid hanging himself, and did not carry a pistol to avoid shooting himself.

When he could not find the answer to life in the theology and philosophy books and was about to reach the abyss of death, he was accidentally enlightened by a farmer and finally obtained salvation from religion and gained eternal peace of mind.

When Tolstoy wrote the character of Levin, he had an extremely strong self-portrait color. 

He wrote many personal experiences about Levin, such as agricultural reform, the early death of his parents in childhood, an older brother named Nikolai, Shocked by the death of his brother... many of Levin's thoughts and feelings are also very similar to Tolstoy's own thoughts and feelings.

He even quoted Levin as saying: "If I don't know who I am and why I live, I can't live."

Compared with Levin's salvation from religion, Tolstoy was not so lucky. Throughout his life, he had been contradictory on religious issues and had long been wavering between belief and disbelief. 

He allowed Levin to undergo the transformation from being a non-believer to a religious believer, which can be seen as a beautiful expectation for his own thoughts to be liberated.

Anna and Levin, a pair of fellow travelers and spiritual companions in life, shouldered Tolstoy's outlook on life and values, and as the carrier of the author's thoughts, in the very similar spiritual core, they finally went to the end of the world. The opposite ending.

Reading Notes

1. Although I try my best to be balanced and self-reflective, I still feel anxious from time to time. To deal with this kind of emotion, my most common way is to read Lao Tuo and large works like Tolstoy. I recently reread "Anna... Karenina". The master's works always make people full of emotion, but it is difficult to say anything, so it is still the same as before, one by one, I can talk about whatever comes to my mind, but I can't say it all anyway.

2. I read "Anna Karenina" once when I was very young, and I flipped through it hastily. When I reached the point where Anna and Vronsky finally got together, I didn't have the patience to read the rest of it, and I felt very cheated. , not even a kiss. But even so, I still know the greatness of Tolstoy, because I have read the famous dance section, where Kitty and Anna compete for beauty, many times. Think about it, a little girl’s understanding of fashion and aesthetics was planted by a Russian old man and has never been subverted since. This shows how powerful this Russian old man is.

3. Tolstoy writes about two stunning women, one is eighteen years old and the other is in her thirties. He writes about how the thirty-year-old woman defeated the eighteen-year-old girl. In the beginning, he described the dress of the eighteen-year-old girl. In addition to her stunning beauty, he also wrote down the details of the clothes one by one. It can be said that everything is perfect and everything is inappropriate. He has praised it to the extreme. Then what will happen later? What should Anna do? Tolstoy changed his writing style and wrote about Anna again. This was a completely unexpected move.

4. "Kitty saw Anna every day, admired her, and imagined that she was always wearing purple clothes. But now that she saw her in black clothes, she realized that she had not really appreciated all her charm before. Kitty now saw her unexpected look. Only when I got a new look did I realize that Anna cannot wear purple clothes. Her charm lies in that she is always more eye-catching than her clothes, and the decorations on her body never attract attention. The black dress with gorgeous lace on her body It's inconspicuous. It's just a frame. What's striking is her person: simple, natural, elegant, happy, and full of life." 

5. In our words today, this is called aura, which is truly high. Duan's fashion and beauty are about people wearing clothes, not people being wearing clothes. "Anna Karenina" was written in 1877. I often hear people say that these classics are outdated works, and smile without explanation. Some people don't know. They feel that the concepts of their high-end pioneers are just leftovers from the masters.

6. When I first read "Anna" that year, I was a little disgusted with Levin's line, because I don't like reading about things in the countryside. This time, when I read the dialogue between two landowners meeting in the aristocratic council, my nose... Sore, eyes moist. I told my friend about it, and he asked strangely, where is the point of crying? I can't answer either. Later I realized that it was because of the man who wrote the book. How could he be so compassionate? How could he understand so many people, pity them, and love them? This is something that only God can do.

7. He is powerful, but gentle and generous. He never blames anyone. In his works, no matter what kind of people they are, he treats them as human beings. How did he do it? Even those we hate understand, even Anna’s husband, there are always comments saying that he is critical of him, but after my own re-reading, I can see a trace of helplessness and compassion in him.

8. Stanislavsky said: "When Tolstoy was alive, we often said: 'How happy it is to live in the same era as Tolstoy!' When encountering setbacks mentally or in life, people When we feel like we have turned into beasts, we will comfort ourselves like this: ‘Tolstoy lives in Yasnaya Polyana!’ So we want to live again.” 

9. I sprained my foot when I was a child and limped. I walked to school on crutches, and my classmates sarcastically said that I was just faking it. I refused to cry all day long. When I came home, I met my father at the door and burst into tears. Later I thought, this is the point of crying. When reading Tolstoy, I often have this feeling. It seems that after enduring endurance and torture, I have survived until now, and suddenly met my father and met God. You know that he has a warm and soft heart, a soul as open-minded and broad as the sky, as reliable as a mountain. He will definitely pity you, feel sorry for you, understand you, and love you. I think Stanislavsky felt the same way about him.

10. I remember reading this for the first time and laughing at Stanislavsky for being such a nymphomaniac. At that time, I had not re-read Tolstoy. Now, while I am reading "Anna Karenina", I really want to see him in person and hug him. This is a rare feeling for me. I like Hemingway so much, but I have never thought about it this way.

11. Pasternak wrote: The young man must have never expected at that time that he would have to endure everything that Tolstoy worried about but never had time to experience. Yes, Stanislavsky and the others are really so happy. While reading "Anna", I thought about the confusing world I was in. Uncle Tolstoy, I will now share some of my thoughts with those who need them, but it would be great if you were alive. I really want to know what you would say and think about all this.

12. The reason why a classic is a classic is that it will never go out of style. I am so happy to be able to read Tolstoy. While reading, I still feel like I have suddenly realized something and finally figured something out. There are too many points to record one by one. You just need to know that his books are there all day long, and most people just pick them up, but they just can't read them.

13. The old man was born to be rebellious throughout his life. He has struggled with many things. He has studied, been an official, been in upper-class circles, farmed, been a landlord, a soldier, and fought in wars. He gave up private property at the age of 63, and 65 He learned to ride a bicycle at the age of 70 and was still skating at the age of 70. The Czar did not need his humanitarianism, nor did the revolutionaries. Even the religious church expelled him. When writing "Anna", he also hid the rope and put away the shotgun to prevent himself from committing suicide. Even today, on the centenary of Tolstoy's birth, Russia is still silent. Compared with the high-profile activities commemorating Chekov, only a few TV stations broadcast it.

14. But people love him. His tomb has no tombstone or inscription. Zweig said that this is the most beautiful tomb in the world. Local young people will go to Tolstoy's tomb to lay flowers when they hold weddings. Of course, if you are not married, you can still give flowers.

About war and peace: "We finally know that we know nothing".
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