"" Writer's Wanderings: Books For The Road - Anna Karenina

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Books For The Road - Anna Karenina

This is definitely a book for a very, very long trip. The printed version runs between 850-900 pages depending upon the publisher and translation. The e-book I bought was over 2900 pages when I enlarged it to medium print. What was I thinking??

I wanted to read something by Leo Tolstoy and this seemed to pique my interest more than others. I found several reviewers who felt it was one of his best novels--maybe the best. It was an adventure and as a reader who normally devours a book in a week or less, this one took me the better part of a month.

The story's title character, Anna, is a woman who ends up in an adulterous situation and becomes the mistress of her lover, Count Vronsky. Her husband stalwartly refuses to give her a divorce. (This is taking place in Russia in the late 19th century). In contrast to Anna and Vronsky's life, is the life of Levin and Kitty (I would give you last names but they get confusing) who find in each other a love that is purer and deeper even though it is frought with doubts. Along the way you will meet quite a few other colorful characters which at times can get confusing with their similar names. But each is uniquely created by Tolstoy and contributes to the intrigue of the lives of the main characters.

If you love to read the old classics that deal with political views, philosophical debate, a look at life in the time period, societies, and religion and still have a good storyline, this is it. Anna Karenina has it--love, drama, conflict and all of the above. I won't say it's an easy read. Tolstoy's sentences go on forever sometimes and you wander through the characters' minds a bit more than you may want to but he always brings you back to the storyline and you can't help but continue on.

I found one other interesting tidbit as I looked at what others had to say about this classic. Apparently Tolstoy's inspiration came from an incident that occurred at a train station. He saw a young woman who had fallen under a train. I'm sure as a writer he began with the question, "why?" and then started to imagine the reasons. What resulted was quite a tale and a look at Russian life in, what was to him, modern times. It is a fascinating look at the society of the times.

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