Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy


Chosen by Jo

Anna Karenina was written by LeoTolstoy in the 1870s. It reflects many aspects of his own inner turmoil about affairs, spirituality, city vs rural living and peasantry.

The dual story narration introduces two main characters, Anna and Levin. The latter represents Tolstoy, a landowner and pastoral man, who is unlucky in love, so moves to the country, immerses himself in his relationship with the land, writes a book and attempts to work with peasants in oder to make their lives better. The beauty of the seasons and the pragmatic work of harvesting absorb Levin as they did Tolstoy.

In contrast is Anna’s enigmatic and destructive passions. Though married she undertakes an affair with wealthy army officer Count Vonskry and is traumatised about how to conduct her activities due to the impact on herself and others. She is a rift in the tranquil world which allows physical passion and irrationality to prevail.

Anna Karenina is considered an important work because of its exploration of the human psyche and emotions common to all generations. Tolstoy was considered a master at dissecting psychology, observing the smallest changes in consciousness and recording them in extraordinary detail.

Man survives earthquakes, epidemics, the horrors of disease, and all the agonies of the soul, but for all time his most tormenting tragedy has been, is, and will be the tragedy of the bedroom. – Leo Tolstoy

At 800 odd pages it was a big and sometimes arduous read for all the freerangers. But through all the hard to digest Russian social commentary and historical context are two very personal stories which are easy to connect with: a passionate love affair that becomes overwhelmed by jealousy and societal expectations, and the story of a man’s connection to the land and compassion for those who work it.

Everyone was pleased to have indulged in it but also pleased to have turned that last page.


Published 1877
The Russian Messenger
874 pages

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