Thursday, 13 October 2011

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (4/5)

The back says: Anna Karenina is one of the most loved and memorable heroines of literature. Her overwhelming charm dominates a novel of unparalleled richness and density.

I say: First things first; I abhor Anna Karenina - the character, not the novel. She is the most grating female character I have ever encountered

- and do note that I have read both Twilight and Tess of the D'urbervilles.

When we were first introduced to her I didn't really have that much of an opinion of her, but that quickly turned into slight annoyance, which then descended into absolute loathing. I don't think I have ever wished for a character to "just die already" as much as I did Anna.

There was just no sense in anything she did.

So much shilly shallying, game-playing, moroseness, and just stupid decision-making it made me violent. If she had been a sixteen year-old girl she would have been Bella Swan wouldn't have irritated me as much, but she was a grown married woman, with a child.

But enough about her because, thankfully, the novel isn't only about her.

One of the things I really like about Tolstoy is the way he describes the surroundings; not just the physical, but the emotional, political, and social ones as well. What I really found fascinating about this novel was the juxtaposition between life in the city and that in the country; the different issues the characters bothered themselves with depending on where they were. Tolstoy really brought both of these settings to life and, although I generally don't really like third person-narratives, I was glad for it due to the way her showed the different characters' views on them.

There's a lot of critique in there - of course (and a lot of romanticisation, if I may, as well) - but I'm not going to bother myself or anyone else with that.

What I am going to bother with is one of the things I don't like about Tolstoy, which is his ability to go off-topic and just ramble on and on about something I couldn't possibly care less about - and that is totally irrelevant to the plot. As nice as it is to learn more about how Levin manages his land, to read more than five consecutive pages on farming is not why I picked this up. The same applies to the whole voting scene that took place, and some other random things that I feel are just Tolstoy's own desire to show his own proficiency (or just moan).

Too lenient, Mr editor.

Far too lenient (as always).

All in all it was a really good read; some parts I loved and some I hated. I fell in some sort of love with Levin and later on Kitty, and was towards the end only wanting to read more about them (when I wasn't hoping for fate to have its cruel way with Anna - spoiler: she did not get her just deserts, in my not so humble opinion). As soon as I get over my complete vexation with Anna (history tells me it'll be a while) I'll be able to better look back at the beauty and oftentimes humorous parts of this novel.


  1. I haven't read this one - not sure I've read much Tolstoy at all actually. It's on my reading "bucket list"! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Yet another classic that I have not read. I really need to get around to reading this one!

  3. Oh, I definately recommend this! Even though I hated Anna (seriously, she is the worst) there are a lot of people who love her. It's basically just her and Tolstoy's ramblings that I didn't like - when it's good it's brilliant, but when it's bad it's just really... ugh!