One of the most important novels by Leo Tolstoy and one of the most well-known masterpieces of world literature, Anna Karenina is a story comprising a fast succession of events and full of wonderful, vivid characters. Written and set in 19th century Russia, one could easily think that the novel depicts only the realities and attitudes of Tolstoy's world, but this can be far from the truth: the novel's principle topic, that of passion, love, marriage and adultery are timeless and Anna Karenina has a lot to say to the reader today, too.
Dostoyevsky described the novel as flawless, Faulkner said it is the best ever written and these superlatives are only two in the line of many similar remarks used for the novel. The story is about Anna Karenina, a beautiful and married aristocrat woman who falls in love with a charming Count. Anna commits adultery and becomes pregnant by the Count. She gives life to a little girl, but almost dies in childbirth. While lying ill in bed she tries to reconcile her husband and her lover and she is forgiven by her husband, but later finds it impossible to live with Karenin and leaves him to pursue her love. However, the relationship between Anna and the Count goes sour and Anna kills herself.
This is the story line in short, but the novel is so much more complex than this. The third-person omniscient narrator shifts his attention among the major characters and major events in the novel, the parallel story lines intermingle and reinforce each other on several points in the novel and they give a realistic account not only what is going on in the soul of the characters, but also the transformations in 19th century Russia. Besides the emotional themes such as jealousy, fidelity, faith and passion, the reader gets a glimpse at the social changes at work in Russian society at the time, so Anna Karenina has something to offer to all readers, of any age.
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