Monday, October 25, 2010

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - Book Review #102

Monday, October 25, 2010
Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy

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.

It was a long journey for me towards Anna Karenina. My mother recommended it to me when I was thirteen. The way she talked about it made me pick up the book with great enthusiasm. I read it the whole day long, unable to draw my eyes out of it. When it was time to go to bed, I closed the book and next day… I never opened it again. When I was seventeen, after reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, which made an unforgettable impression on me, I decided to give Anna Karenina another try. Unfortunately, the story repeated itself and I didn’t open the book next day. After that for years my thoughts were coming back to Anna Karenina. I was completely clueless what made me read this book for a day, like there was no tomorrow and next day had no desire to open it again. I was obviously interested in it while I was reading, but somehow, over the night, my interest was just magically evaporated. So I was thinking about Anna Karenina, was trying to analyze my experience with it, however, I never made an attempt to read it again, until about a month ago when I felt this unexplainable need to read one of the greatest books that were ever written.

It took me a month (precisely a month, I started it on September 22 and finished it October 22) to read it. Anna Karenina is a book that takes a lot of time to read and not only because of its length (over eighth hundred pages), but mostly because of its content. I loved some pieces of the book beyond imaginable, other pieces was boring and dragged for me. However, the whole book is full of wisdom and I couldn’t just breath through it, I had to stop and think, make some decisions for myself, before I could continue reading it again. So the most time for me took my thought process and not reading.

Anna Karenina is a book about life and not only that; it is a piece of life itself. It seems like Tolstoy covered pretty much every topic of life that might have touched Russian society of 1870th. However, the most amazing thing for me was how Tolstoy could see people, how he knew their thoughts and reasonings, their fears and desires and mostly how extremely well and honest he was able to write about it. It seemed to me that every single emotion I've ever felt and every thought I've ever had, had already been felt and thought and written by Tolstoy generations before I was even born. Reading Anna Karenina was like going through my own thoughts, but on some other, much deeper lever – level where I’ve never been before.

I’m not going to recommend Anna Karenina to anyone, not because I didn’t like it – I loved it, but because to read or not to read Anna Karenina or when to read it in your path of life is a very personal decision and a very big commitment. This is a book that either can ruin you or reborn you from the ashes, depending if you read it during the right moment of your life or not.


Merry said...


Anonymous said...

Tolstoy's mind is mankind's mind

Post a Comment