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Book Review: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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Book Review: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

"Anna Karenina" is Tolstoy's second landmark novel, written between 1873 and 1877. The work consists of two parallel and interrelated threads: one is the family, marriage, and love entanglement between Anna, Karenin, and Volinsky; the other is the love life of Levin and Ji Di and the manor that Levin carried out. reform. 

Anna is a high-class lady, young and beautiful, pursuing individual liberation and freedom of love, while her husband is a "bureaucratic machine" with an indifferent temperament. Once at the station, Anna met Vronsky, a young officer, who was attracted by her beauty and desperately pursued it. 

In the end, Anna fell in love and resolutely abandoned her husband to live with Volinsky. But the yearning for her son and the pressure of the surrounding environment caused her to fall into pain and anxiety, and she gradually discovered that Volensky was not a dedicated ideal person. 

After successively losing her son and the last pillar of the spirit-Volensky, after an argument with Volensky, Anna found that she could no longer live in this hypocritical society. In despair, she chose Committed suicide by lying on the rails. 

The novel exposes the ugliness and hypocrisy of Russian upper-class society in the 1960s and 1970s, and also expresses the author's complex moral and ideological explorations during the period of social transformation.

book-review-anna-karenina-by-leo-tolstoy

About the author

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 occupies 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

"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 have this experience when I get 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


Anna Karenina book summary

Short Comment

I think this book is very good, very classic, especially the psychological description, meticulous, just right, everyone's psychology has been described by Master Tuo incisively and vividly, it is like he is changing everyone's role. But I don’t know why I always feel that his psychological description of Flensky is a little weak. 

Although the Buddha is only playing a supporting role, I personally think that his ideas are very important to Anna, and it is also for our readers to understand. Anna, there is another way to understand this tragedy, so I feel sorry for this. Also, reading this book made me understand the great difference between men and women once again. 

Perhaps, for women, love is all, but for men, it is only part of the whole, which makes us very good at dealing with the relationship between the sexes. For reference, I think reading this novel is more inspiring for the relationship between the sexes than watching the popular "Women from Mars, Men from Venus". To Levin, to be honest, I didn’t really like him at the very beginning. 

I always felt that he was very "various", a little bit indifferent, a little indecisive, twisted, and unhappy anyway, but after reading it, I found that his thoughts were very different. Advanced and profound, and with the beginning of his family life and understanding of the meaning of life, he found him more and more interesting. 

In fact, when I have time, I feel that he was a sharp stone at the beginning. After years of waste and tempering in the world, this stone has become more and more smooth and more useful. 

This kind of smoothness is definitely a good word, that's it. This kind of change and mellowness from the heart, because I think that a person should not only adapt to himself but also adapt to the society, so I think this kind of growth is inevitable and necessary. 

If a person does not want to change and always lives according to his own inner thoughts, then I think either to become a madman or a giant, the probability of the latter is still very small. . . In short, this is a good book, and it is recommended that women, in particular, read it.





Anna Karenina's Book Review & Analysis

Leo Tolstoy 

Anna's psychological monologue before her death can be called the most wonderful psychological description of the nineteenth century. It is hard to imagine what Tolstoy was in when she wrote these passages. The person who wrote these sentences seems to be Anna herself. If the part of Anna's suicide is the climax of the whole novel, it is not Tolstoy who overlooks Tolstoy from this highest point, but the god of death.

   The shadow of death has always enveloped the entire novel. From the very beginning when Anna and her lover Vronsky first met, the person who committed suicide on the rails, to Anna's life threats during childbirth, and then Vronsky's Attempted to drink bombs and then to the difficult process of Nikolai's death, even the author's autobiographical character Levin has repeatedly thought of suicide... After Anna made up his mind to die, the rhythm of the novel suddenly accelerated, moving forward with the acceleration of death, It happened to meet head-on with the galloping train... Anna won the battle of love at the cost of the double destruction of body and soul, "Even her death is the death of a hateful woman without religious beliefs", She will never go to heaven.

   Tolstoy added a subtitle to the twentieth section of the fifth book of the novel. This may be the only subtitle in all Tolstoy's novels. The title is "Death". The content of this section is about the death of Levin’s brother Nikolai. After the priest prayed, 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... Come on."

  A minute later, his face was 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 only a temporary and selfish manifestation of "a delusion to be healed", in any case, he was conquered by death, and he was rude on the surface. , But inside was docile, still smiling after death.

   The title "Death" appears in the lower half of the book almost a quarter of the place. It seems to have a dynamic meaning. It is like a fulcrum. At this position, it can just sway the salvation and hope of the last part of the novel. To the highest place.

    At the time Nicholas died, Levin’s wife Kitty became pregnant. Of course, Tolstoy was not engaged in reincarnation. He wanted to write the topic of "death" more comprehensively and with more tension. It is not dialectical just to write about death, not from life. Facing his brother’s death, Levin’s fear of death deepened, but at the same time, “he still felt that he had to live and love. He felt that love saved him from despair, and this love, Under the threat of despair, it became stronger and purer."

    This may be the difference between men and women in that era. Men often regarded love as a bridge to the other shore, no matter whether the other shore was metaphysical or metaphysical, while women regarded 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 to the opposite side, as Vronsky’s friend Serpukhovskoy said: “We create great careers because of love, but they But it is always practical". Unfortunately, Anna belongs to the former. In this kind of mismatched emotional appeal, she will be disappointed after all.
 
   If he doesn't love me, but because of his sense of responsibility he treats me tenderly, but he does not have the emotion I desire, it is a thousand times worse than resentment!

   Tolstoy did not give him the desire and ability to seek religious salvation like a man in his female roles. It is not so cruel, but a kind of persistence. Like his own endless pursuit of ideological progress, he seems to want Anna to plunge into the pursuit of love without hesitation in a similar manner. Anna had a premonition of destruction from the beginning, and it was also a determination. Before leaving, she said, "God, forgive me!"

    How would Tolstoy resolve this contradiction? He did not deny Anna's love pursuit and subsequent actions, but he let her go to destruction step by step. According to the mainstream view, Tolstoy wanted to reflect on the sad situation of women in society at that time. But since Tolstoy hopes to save her from religious beliefs, why doesn'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 man of patriarchal power after all. He does not believe that women need and can obtain salvation at the level of faith; 
  2. This "skeptical tragedy and longing "Tragedy" (Bloom) people want to use women to destroy love to fulfill the moral mission in the aesthetics of tragedy (although according to traditional standards, women as the protagonist of tragedies still lack a "falling height"); 
  3. This is exactly the embodiment of Tolstoy's weakness that Lenin discussed in "Tolstoy and the Proletarian Struggle"; 
  4. He has a naturalistic attitude towards Anna's tragedy, and there are always some people It is suffering. 
There are always some people who cannot go to heaven, and some people cannot go to heaven because of suffering, but others cannot be willing to fall.

     In any case, we cannot expect Tolstoy, a man who "experienced human life" (Shklowski), to be responsible for finding a way out for us at the same time, otherwise, he would truly become a god. At the beginning of the novel, it says that "happy families are similar, and unfortunate families each have their own misfortunes." This has already been acknowledged in advance of this natural state of the world. Dylan Thomas said that "death cannot rule the world", the same, fortunately, or unfortunately neither.

    There are two main lines in the novel, one is the tragic event of the destruction of Anna’s family, and the other is the happy life of the Levin family, which seems to be the bright and dark sides of the moon. The difference is that both are in accordance with the world’s The rules grow naturally, although the ending is different.

    However, there are not many intersections between the two main lines, and they lack mutual influence in the narrative process. They develop independently. If they are taken apart, they can almost be transformed into two independent novels. The protagonists of the two main lines, Anna and Levin, have only contemplated one side, and then dispersed again, returning to each other's fortunes and misfortunes. Although there was some faint inter-spirit communication, there was no resonance.

    In Narration and Description, Lukács has compared the descriptions of horse racing in Anna Karenina and Zola’s Nana and believes that the description of the former plays a necessary role in the entire narrative, while Zola It's just describing for description with a naturalistic attitude. With Tolstoy's superior intelligence and narrative skills, it shouldn't be too difficult to make a certain narrative connection between the two main lines.

    These two clues have no difference between light and dark, and they do not contrast or suggest each other. Instead, they follow the heavy axles of the theme. Behind the simple opposition between the two, the connection that is difficult to penetrate rationally stands the hidden God. This brings a strong artistic tension to the novel, and with the tremendous energy ignited by this tension, the theme can run to such a far-reaching place.

   Therefore, I think that Tolstoy did not deliberately make some relevant marks on the two main lines (like those who are afraid of getting lost), because he transcended the civic consciousness in this writing, in this sense, I can understand why Proust said that in Balzac’s works, “human beings are judged by a writer who wants to write a great book, but in Tolstoy’s works are judged by a serene god. "Attempting to establish a connection between the two main lines (regardless of whether the connection comes from narrative involvement or content comparison) is to make the redemption and destruction represented by the two main lines explain each other, essentially transplanting a kind of Cause and effect, and what Levin finally realized, in terms of destiny and belief, all of this is "beyond reason."

    Anna's story is a pitiful and terrifying tragedy; Levin's story is a spiritual epic that brings courage and strength to people. Tolstoy balances two great art forms with novels, and also makes life true. In the meantime, it shows naturally. Lukacs said Tolstoy in "Theory of Fiction":

    yearning for a life nestled in the immortal rhythm of nature, yearning for a life that is accompanied by the natural rhythm of life and death, a kind of abandoning narrow division, separation, and fragmentation Stiff, unnatural forms of life.

   So the logic of the novel has become the logic of nature, and the language of the novel has also become the language of life. It does not rely on complicated and delicate. If Proust enriches the senses of the world by generously distributing metaphors like Santa Claus, Tolstoy is like a hunter, using accurate marksmanship to shoot down language Obstacles given to the world. "It takes time to understand how metaphorical his (Tolstoy's) concept of nature is because his crisp and simple style is a triumph of rhetoric" (Bloom).

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

  The huge scenes of harvesting, hunting, skating, etc. in "Anna Karenina" are like large open spaces deliberately partitioning off the rest, giving people a more expansive impression. Throughout the summer between Wolensky's two conversations, there seemed to be a large green pasture that needed to be mowed.
 
   The former is powerful in generalization, while the latter is astonishing. From the general view and details, it marks the natural character of Tolstoy's novels.
   
    As for the status of the novel "Anna", after listening to the mainstream evaluations in the history of literature, let’s listen to what two arrogant people say, one is Nabokov, who 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 unbeatable."

    The novel ends with Levin’s spiritual consciousness. He has realized from a series of personal life experiences that, in the past, the questioning of religion based on reason was only that he was too lonely, and his loneliness was due to lack of love. Levin found peace and happiness in his soul in his own way.

     Although some people say that "spiritual preaching is often a stubborn fabrication of ridiculous plots" in Tolstoy's novels (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, this kind of spiritual exploration is Tolstoy's spiritual self-narration. It's just that when I think that Tolstoy didn't realize complete peace of mind after this, and he couldn't stand the continuous toss of spirit and practice, I couldn't help but feel a little lost.

   Is there really no eternal destination once and for all?

   He smashed the quiet lake by himself and continued paddling with his big hands. At the age of 82, he resolutely broke with the life of the nobles. In order to realize his dream, he ran away from home. On November 7, 1910, the 10th day after leaving, I fell ill with pneumonia during the journey to South Russia...Perhaps this kind of spirit and action is the real strength and motivation.

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


Reading notes

They didn't know that for eight years, he suffocated my life and suffocated all the life in me. He never thought that I was a woman who needed a love life. They didn't know that he insulted me all the time, and he was still proud of himself. Didn’t I try my best to find the meaning of life? Haven't I tried my best to love him? When I can’t love him, haven’t I tried my best to love my son? But then I understood that I can no longer deceive myself, I am a living person, I have no sin, God made me such a person, I need to be in love, I need to live.---Quoted on page 283

As a woman, life is more than just getting married and having children.
As a woman, or at least as a person, you must first try to let yourself breathe freely while you are alive, and love your loved ones unfettered.




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