Anna Karenina

Front Cover
Penguin Books Limited, Dec 31, 2002 - Fiction - 837 pages
Now the subject of a major new film adaptation from director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice), Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is translated by award-winning duo Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky in Penguin Classics.

Starring Keira Knightley (A Dangerous Method) as Anna Karenina, Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes) as her husband Alexei, Aaron Johnson (Nowhere Boy) as Count Vronsky, and also starring Matthew McFadyen, Andrea Riseborough and Kelly Macdonald, this dazzling production of Anna Karenina is adapted for the screen by legendary playwright Tom Stoppard.

Anna Karenina seems to have everything - beauty, wealth, popularity and an adored son. But she feels that her life is empty until the moment she encounters the impetuous officer Count Vronsky. Their subsequent affair scandalizes society and family alike, and soon brings jealousy and bitterness in its wake. Contrasting with this tale of love and self-destruction is the vividly observed story of Konstantin Levin, a man striving to find contentment and meaning to his life - and also a self-portrait of Tolstoy himself.

Acclaimed as the definitive English version of Tolstoy's masterpiece, this edition contains an introduction by Richard Pevear and a preface by John Bayley.

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) spent his youth in wasteful idleness until 1851, when he travelled to the Caucasus and joined the army, fighting in the Crimean war. After marrying in 1862, Tolstoy settled down, managing his estates and writing two of his best-known novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1878). A Confession (1879-82) marked a spiritual crisis in his life, and in 1901 he was excommunicated by the Russian Holy Synod.

'William Faulkner, it's said, was once asked to name the three best novels ever. He replied: "Anna Karenina, Anna Karenina, Anna Karenina." If you don't recall why, rush to buy a fine new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky'
Boyd Tonkin, Independent

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Anna Karenina is a love story between the woman Anna Karenina and a young general. All though, the story is not as simple as it sounds for it has several more characters like a woman called Kitty and a man called Levin, mr Karenina. The young general's two brothers and friends. Anna Karenina's sister and her family, and so on. It is a very political book. I'm a fast reader, but it took me a month to finish, because I had to take many breaks and do something else. Not that it wasn't interesting, but it was complicated.
I thoroughly recommend it.

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Anna Karenina was one of many reads on my way to finally embracing the classics I've so long desired to know. I found Tolstoy's writing style interesting and comprehensible. Anna, the subject of the tale, is at first pitiable, buts she progressively descends into self-pity, all due to her own actions. I found the character Levin the most interesting and the most deserving of a successful end. Some believe Tolstoy sometimes rambling and overly descriptive. In part I agree. At times, Tolstoy does seem to ramble and over-complicate the telling of the story. However, there are points at which the apparent rambling is actually integral. Levin is a good man whose aim, though often fettered by his own mulishness, is a deeper understanding of himself and of his role in the world. In my opinion Tolstoy rightly expounds on Levin's reasoning, and the detail of Levin's reasoning lends a poignant and honest feel to the growth of the character. The ending may seem disjointed to some, but not within the context of the entire story. Levin finds the peace and contentment that the struggling characters in the story fail to discover. Tolstoy seems to tell us that each of us have the answer to our existence within ourselves, yet many of us must reach bottom and behold despair; only then can we embrace hope and the truth of our purpose here, only then, through faith, can we finally and clearly see the essence of God. I believe the book a valuable read. It is a rare look into 19th Century Russian life, faith and philosophy. Truth then is truth today. 

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About the author (2002)

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), the Russian prose writer, is chiefly remembered for his novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have translated Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita for Penguin and have produced acclaimed translations of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Gogol. Their translation of The Brothers Karamazov won the 1991 PEN Book of the Month Club Translation Prize.

John Bayley has published many books, including studies of Tolstoy and Pushkin.

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