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Barbee'

I enjoyed reading your information about Tolstoy. I am not so well read as you. I enjoy getting my information in bits and pieces, I guess.

Iris

It was nice to read more about Tolstoy, I always like to be able to relate the works to the author in person, although it can ruin it sometimes as well.

I'm slightly behind, compared to you, I'm around page 120, but I can't say you spoiled anything for me. I'm curious to find out more about Anna Karenina's husband.

I'm glad to hear you're still enjoying it!

Danielle

Barbee--I think I get my information in bits and pieces as well, and I'm not at all sure I would consider myself well read, but I do enjoy reading all sorts of books. I thought I should at least know a little bit about Tolstoy now that I'm reading Anna K.
Iris--I know what you mean--I don't always want to know about an author--it depends. Sometimes it can make the reading experience richer though it seems I've also heard a book should stand on its own. I'm trying not to give anything away, though I think Tolstoy is taking his time getting into the bigger issues of the story. So far I am really enjoying things--will be curious to see how I feel when I finish though. Are you enjoying it as well?

Frisbee

Danielle, I'm roughly at the same place in AK and am loving it. Thanks so much for reading it. My husband keeps saying, "Are you reading it again?" It's a perfect book.

I found a charming book, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, which has a fascinating chapter on the author Elif Batuman's trip to a Tolstoy conference on his estate. I'll try to write about that some time this week!

Castallia

I've also heard that Tolstoy was a moralist, though so far in the book the only places I've noticed this is that certain characters are very contemptuous of "old fashioned" values and I had the strong impression that Tolstoy didn't agree with their opinions.

It's interesting that you mention Chopin and Hardy; I've also been trying to compare the work to other 19th century novels in order to put it in some context. With Hardy, it seemed like fate or some other form of determinism was really working against Tess; so far it looks to me as though Anna and Vronsky had more choice.

So much of the book seems to be devoted to other characters, particularly Levin, that I'm also starting to wonder if Anna is really even the protagonist? Or is it Levin?

Danielle

Frisbee--I expect this is a book that you might even appreciate more with more than one reading, though I expect I am reading somewhat superficially right now. I'm trying to see below the surface, but not dig too hard and just enjoy the story. And I would love to hear more about that book--I've seen pictures of Tolstoy's home. I'll watch for your post!
Castallia--Tolstoy was really interesting--he gave up the copyrights on his books later in life and basically lived as a peasant. I think he was writing Anna K whilst he was going through this crisis of faith (not exactly sure what to call it), so I'm not entirely sure how to read the text (I tend to read things into books or try to find things that may or may not necessarily be there). You've gone deeper--I think you are right about Hardy--I was just thinking of examples of characters that might be similar--and so far it is choice, I don't think fate is moving the characters along either. I wonder if he is using the other characters to juxtapose against Anna and her actions and decisions. Maybe Levin is the real hero of the novel? (At least I've seen him listed as such). His works certainly seem to be on the epic scale--character-wise.

litlove

Ooh I didn't like that husband, and if memory serves me right, I fear he only gets worse! Tolstoy sounds like a fascinating character and I know nothing about him, apart from his terribly fraught marriage. I will have to do some reading up!

Jodie

Danielle I kicked on and am at the start of Part 3 now so I'll try not to spoil you, but hmmm insteresting developments are taking place...dundundun. Did you get to the part with the horse? Ominous.

The back of my copy says Levin is a self portrait of Tolstoy so you're spot on. I haven't read anything about him so it was great to get a little background.

As for Alexi I don't like him one bit, but for rather different reasons than I thought I'd dislike him for. When you were talking about how you thought it might be quite obvious why he's a bad husband I though it would be as well, but it's all a little more subtle isn't it. He can never say anything genuine, his ears stick out, he's preoccupied with what society thinks and he can't admit to his true feelings. It all makes him sound a little sad, until you realise the person suffering the most is his wife!

And yes 'vengance is mine', that really has you looking out for people who will be judged from the begining. I feel like it's going to be Anna who takes vengence some how, but I'm not sure who it will be directed at.

Danielle

Litlove--I remember something vaguely about his marriage--I just read a few brief things about him--very interesting man.
Jodie--Once you start reading it is hard to put it down, don't you think? I'm hoping to get to part three by the weekend. And no horse as of yet...something to look forward to! As for Alexei--he isn't obviously bad, but he's not nice to Anna either. Tolstoy's characters are so complex, he gives you a lot to think about, and I'm wondering if this is going to be a really 'grey' story--nothing too black and white. I hadn't thought about Anna being the one to take vengeance--that totally throws things in a different light, and entirely possible really.

Thanks so much everyone for the comments--it's really nice getting a different perspective and having my ideas expanded on or even questioned as it makes me think of things in a different light!

Sylvia

Thanks for this. I've been thinking of re-reading Anna Karenina this year, in the new Pevear-Volokhonsky translation. I will be interested to hear what you think of the story as a whole. It's a bit like War and Peace in that the characters you think are the main characters in the beginning don't turn out to be the main characters at the end. I don't know if that was intentional or if the books are so long that Tolstoy's interest simply drifted towards the autobiographical while he was writing them.

Danielle

Sylvia--I am really enjoying AK--much more than War and Peace and there are no battle scenes either. I wonder how long it took for him to write this and how much he had planned out ahead of time. He shifts from character to character and country to city--I suppose he is giving a broad overview of the period and ideas and using the characters to contrast against each other. I had expected much more about Anna, but it's still early days yet.

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