Group Read: Anna Karenina
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So, for April 15, let's try to have Part 1 finished. I have the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation (but any translation works, obviously), so for me, Part 1 ends on page 115. What translation are you using?
Hope you can all join me in this challenge - I am looking forward to it!
I'll have to think about it!
So, SO many thick classics that I haven't read yet, sigh...
Truly one of the finest books ever written - along with Anna Quindlen, it would be high on my list of "10 Books to Save in a Fire - If I Could Only Save Ten."
(books listed on the 50 and 100 book challenges)
I've not read Anna Karenina for probably twenty years or so. I started it again last year but couldn't get into it at the time so I put it down. But count me in here. With a group read there is so much more motivation to read a "tome" like this and I loved it the first time I read it. Soooo March 15th, I'm there.
Thanx for starting the group read.
don't know how my ticker thingy showed up here; not supposed to; that is for my 999 challenge but I don't quite know what to do about it so will just leave it. sorry, guys.
I'm DEFINITELY in, although I have to get a copy first. I've had to bail out of War and Peace for now, but Anna Karenina was the one I really had it in mind to read this year.
Today is the official start date for Anna Karenina. Please read Part 1 between now and April 15th. If you would like to talk about the book - and I think we all would! - please remember to include SPOILER warnings in your posts.
Good Luck, and Happy Reading :)
I'm only 13 pages in (up to Chapter V) but so far, I'm not a fan of Prince Stephen and I'm not sure what to make of his wife yet. Also, I'm really glad that there's a list of characters at the beginning of my version or I'd have already lost track!
I'm reading the Wordsworth Classics edition, translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.
I have the Bantam Edition... I'll post the translator later, when I'm not feeling so lazy (it's in the other room, LOL).
ETA - Ah, here we are: translated by Joel Carmichael.
Cait: Maybe I'll luck out and Chapters will have copies in the 4 for $10, haha! Oh wait.... no.... I'll end up getting three more junky books...
Well, I am only on page 77 but I am really wanting things to pick up a little here. We need some serious a** kicking going on.
P.S. Catcha a few pages down I hope.
By the way, "spacepuds"? I love it :) I should probably explain that my name refers to asteroids - because they look like potatoes and they're in space. I studied them in grad school.
(books listed on the 50 and 100 book challenges)
#29-spacepotatoes; that's funny I so didn't get that!~! I did go on to further schooling but must confess that I am one of those persons who must mark "some college" upon filling out paperwork. Ah, well, such is life.
On to "Anna". I concluded the first portion yesterday afternoon much to my consternation as I did not want to stop there. I wanted to continue but then of what use the "group read"? Right?
At any rate, I am quite enjoying the read this time around and do not remember the characters being such dweebs when I read this back in the seventies or eighties. But then I must remember that not only is this taking place in Russia, but in an era when appearances were the "rule" to live by. And that life choices were made by appearances rather than true desires of the heart or mind.
I find Tolstoy to be a brilliant writer and it is hard to put him down. When I read him earlier in my life I I guess I was just young and stupid and didn't appreciate the finer nuances of the written word and the author and read for the "thrill of it all".
Isn't it nice to be all grown up?
Well, happy reading to all of you. I hope you are enjoying "Anna" as much as I am.
P.S. And don't you just want to bang Levin and Vronsky's heads together????
edited due to being "finger happy" this A.M.
I'm finding my translation to be distracting. It seems like the authors have taken the Russian out of Tolstoy and created a British novel. Some of the names, for instance, have been anglicized, like Steve, Constantine, Nicholas, and Mary instead of Stiva, Konstanin, Nicholai, and Marya. That's not such a big deal, really, but they do it to the dialogue too. The conversations are full of "splendid, old chap!" and other English expressions that I'm pretty sure the Russians weren't saying in Tolstoy's day. I feel like I'm not getting the story the way it was intended and that bugs me.
On a positive note, I'm starting to get into the story and characters more than I was when I last posted. I'm particularly intrigued about Anna and Vronsky, and where that is going to go.
I hope you start feeling better. Sinus infections are nothing to mess around with--too close to the brain>>>>hey, maybe that's what happened to brainflakes!~! hehe
I forgot to mention in my other post that the whole Kitty/Levin/Vronsky triangle (+ Anna later) reminded me a bit of Jane Austen's novels - the girl who needs to be married off, the man with good character but little means who is right for her but the girl isn't interested, and the man who's well off but is all about ego and is naturally the one that the girl totally wants. Maybe a Sense and Sensibility and Emma mashup?
I also like how Tolstoy just follows around whomever he wants to follow around... it's like a reality show where the cameras are on everyone, and any person can be the subject of focus at any time, for any duration of time (though with the added bonus of getting in their heads as well). Very interesting.
I do think that Tolstoy sort of paints Anna in a sympathetic light.
But, it did seem that this was just the way their marriage worked, though it was maybe the first time Anna really saw it in a clear light, because of her change in attitude. I'm not sure, really... hard to say. But I don't doubt that this dynamic had been part of their relationship for awhile, good or bad.
Happy reading. Enjoy
"Yes, as you see, your tender husband, tender as in the second year of marriage, is burning with desire to see you," he said in his slow, high voice and in the tone he almost always used with her, a tone in mockery of someone who might actually mean what he said.
"Is Seryozha well?" she asked.
"Is that all the reward I get for my ardour?" he said. "He's well, he's well..."
End of Chapter. I don't get the feeling that he's cruel to her, merely mocking what over-passionate people would say at a reunion moment. I thought aristocrats aren't supposed to be abundant in emotion while in public? And as for him later going back to work while she goes home, I thought this showed that he did care for her... him being a sticker for routine (this being more pronounced in Part II) but he interrupted it to meet her at the train station.
Anyways, I was disliked Anna during these moments because she nitpicked her husband before he said anything to her, and she gets home to her son and right off the bat says that he feels like a disappointment to her. Ouch.
"Yes, as you see. Here is a devoted husband; devoted as in the first year of married life, - consumed by desire to see you," said he in his slow, high-pitched voice and the tone in which he always addressed her, a tone which ridiculed those who could use such words in earnest.
It's actually kind of a relief to see that my translation isn't totally off compared to what the rest of you are reading because I've been wondering about that. It makes me wish I knew Russian!
I didn't think Karenin was cruel to Anna either, he just seems to be someone who doesn't see it as necessary to express emotion regularly or publicly. And I got the impression that Anna was ok with the way things were until she met Vronsky, after which everything with her husband felt lacking.
#60 This is a great way to read a great book! You will catch up in no time.
Soo.... anyone else hating Vronsky? I thought it was pretty cold how he knew Kitty was in love with him, thought it was cool and harmless, encouraged it and then left Moscow without a by-your-leave. He seems quite the rake.
I think he is pretty self-centered and thoughtless. He liked having Kitty in love with him, but I don't think he ever intended to marry her.
Someone upthread said they wanted to smack Levin's and Vronsky's heads together...I agree!
>59 dk_phoenix: I couldn't imagine trying to teach myself, so way to go! I'd love to learn a few more languages but it's one of those things that I want but never seem to make the time for.
I'm currently reading the sixth section/part of the book. It's just that it has to be returned at the end of this month so I really have to finish it. I won't post any spoilers, so don't worry. ;) I'll just jump in now and then when everyone else has finished another section of the book.
Hope everyone is still enjoying it! :)
I am sitting here wishing my life away until the 15th!
(and yeah, I wanted to smack their heads together)
That's a toughie.
But you're young, read Friday night go to the concert Saturday and catch up on Sunday. Enjoy while you can.
I don't know if the translation got better or if I just got used to the language but the English didn't bother me so much after Part I. There were a few "splendid, old chap"s and other expressions scattered here and there but they were easy to overlook. There were even some passages that I thought were quite well done.
The plot and the characters are getting much more interesting too, I honestly was not expecting the pregnancy twist. I gained some more respect for Vronsky for the way he reacted - actually wanting to be involved rather than running scared. I'm really into this storyline and can't wait to see how it develops.
The storyline involving Kitty...I can take it or leave it. The SparkNotes analysis says that Tolstoy is setting up a contrast between Anna, who gives into her feelings, and Kitty, who denies them. I'm not so sure I buy that, at least not yet. I think they have both done plenty of concealing and denying of emotion.
I'll be a little behind getting to Part III as I have some other library books to finish before they are due but I am looking forward to getting back into it!
Oh, one last thought - anybody else picture Ciaran Hinds as Karenin everytime he appears in the book? http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2580387328/tt0970468
Welcome to the group, Banoo! Hope you enjoy the book :)
#85... someone told me this morning over at goodreads that he found that around pages 400 -500 or thereabouts he got bored after that it quickly picked up. is that around this part 3 area? interesting to see this twice today.
Can photos be inserted into these messages? Hopefully so... I'll post some photos of the two cities when I get back in a couple of weeks. Should be fun reading this book in the actual cities...
#88 Angela, at the rate I'm going with reading at the moment I might be up for a group read of AK with you next year. I'm sure there'll be plenty of people who'll be keen whenever you get to it. I'm supposedly doing the W&P one but the new translation that I really want to read is now 3 months late...
Brian---how cool was that?
And tomorrow to actually be in the house of the "master writer" himself! Enjoy, take it all in, take lotz of pics, and be ready to share with us upon your return. What a wonderful opportunity!~!
Travel safely my friend and keep reading.
Likewise the relationship between the brothers; pretty realistic.
But, in point of fact, I cannot wait until the 15th to get on with it!~!
Re: the agricultural stuff in part 3, it was definitely dry for me although I did enjoy how Levin was inspired to improve the way he ran his farm and tried to implement the new methods with the peasants. I'm still using SparkNotes to help me through some of this book and they suggest that Levin's struggles with the peasants and the farm are a metaphor for Anna and Vronsky's relationship:
http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/anna/section5.rhtml (scroll down to the "Analysis" section)
It sounded like a bit of a stretch at first but as I've thought about it some more since finishing part 3, it kind of makes sense.
I found the development of Vronsky's character interesting in this part, with the suggestion that he is giving up his military ambitions for Anna. I smell resentment brewing in his future!
On to part 4 :)
I've posted some pictures from my trip here. It's separated by the two cities, Moscow and St Petersburg. Hope you enjoy them. I've made some references to Russian literature in some of the shots.
Nice photos and footnotes. :)
I enjoyed reading your review of War and Peace too. How do yo compare Pierre and Levin?
How did Kitty's father see through Vronsky so easily?
Banoo, your pictures are beautiful! It looks like a lovely trip.
It may be "father's instinct". A similar scenario occurred in War And Peace where old Prince Bolkonsky acutely judged the character of his daughter's suitor and turned down the marriage proposal. The fellow, Anatole, later attempted to seduce and elope with another young lady.
Tolstoy described Vronsky in almost exactly the same way as he did Anatole. Their views on life, the character of their friends, etc, were very similar. It's obvious that Tolstoy didn't approve of Vronsky and his affair with Anna. Vronsky's horse race, in which his horse suffered a broken back and was later killed, seemed to be the symbol of their affair.
After Kitty rejected his proposal and he returned to his country house, Levin received one piece of good news, that his cow had given birth. Then Levin started imagining that the cow would have dozens of calves, and that he himself would have a happy family with Kitty, a devoted wife and mother of his children.
(That was in Part I, Chapters 26 & 27. Later in Part III, Chapter 9. A conversation between Dolly and Levin)
"You know, Kitty's coming here, and is going to spend the summer with me."
"Really," he said, flushing, and at once, to change the conversation, he said: "Then I'll send you two cows, shall I?"
Karenin gained my sympathy after he revealed his feelings to Dolly, Vronsky and Oblonsky. The way he treated Anna at the horse race also showed that he cared for her more than she appreciated. Forced into a very difficult, if not impossible position, he suffered and struggled to do the right thing. Hypocritical he might be, but very much human.
I also felt some sympathy for Karenin, and also for Anna - but mostly I want to whack them both round the face with a soggy mackeral! What *are* they thinking of? And what about their poor son?!
Then again this is not my usual choice of subject matter. At least the storyline with Levin adds some additional interest. I wonder, however, where that is leading.
Interesting stuff about a co-operative though, especially as last year was a 150 year anniversary of Robert Owen's death, so there has been a lot of information recently about the formation of co-operatives.
As I continue reading, I'm beginning to notice something subtle and yet significant in Tolstoy's writing, i.e. his perfect timing (for lack of a better word).
For instance, Anna and Vronsky's meeting at the train station was the crucial point of the affair. Anna sensed the danger and was trying to escape, but Vronsky caught her "at the right place at the right time". It they hadn't met, Anna would have gone back to her family and continued life as usual. But they met and the dye was cast.
After Anna had left her husband and son, just when the readers were starting to question how things could have gone so bad, and what sort of person Karenin was that Anna loathed him so much, Tolstoy started to reveal the character of Karenin and more of Anna. In short, if there is ever a case for divorce based on incompatibility, the Karenins would be it.
Tolstoy answered your question too. It was "akin to what a drowning man might feel who has shaken off another man clinging to him. That man did drown. It was an evil action, of course, but it was the sole means of escape."
Thanks for the reminder. Not to worry. I won't put any spoiler here.
A good case can be made that this book should be titled Konstantin Levin, not Anna Karenina. Tolstoy described Levin in great detail, his personality, his emotions, his life, and the Russian life in general (political. religious and economical) as experienced and perceived by him. If it's true that Tolstoy based Levin on himself, then I must say that I enjoyed the book as his autobiography, as I've become an ardent fan after reading his War and Peace and What is Art.
As a novel, however, this book is not as captivating as War and Peace (there is a reason why W&P has been considered by many as the greatest novel of all time). Firstly, the characters are not as engaging. They are interesting and lively characters (as Tolstoy's characters always are), but they don't grow or evolve as the story unfolds, a few have even devolved in the last quarter of the book. Secondly, with the lack of character development, plot becomes essential, but there is no plot in the book. No twists, no surprises.
All things considered, I still regard it as a great book (though I may be biased, as I believe 75% of Tolstoy is better than 100% of most other authors :).
i'll pipe in when the discussions start but for now i'm opening a borges... yay borges!! and i'm leaving for seattle in a couple of days to carouse with a bunch of book lovers and writers.
Possible spoilers ahead if you haven't read up to part 5 yet...
I did find the exploration of faith interesting in this part, it seems like we got a glimpse into the spiritual lives (or lack thereof) of the major characters. I felt horrible for Serezha, he seems to be the last one any of the grown-ups think about. It's especially sad because Anna and Vronsky are clearly beginning to unravel and it sort of makes one wonder if it was all worth it in the end. And one last note, how horribly hypocritical and stuck-up are the people Anna and Vronsky associate with? They all know that cheating and divorces are occuring within many circles and yet people act so scandalized and so righteous about it in public. Tolstoy does a really good job of conveying the two-faced nature of Petersburg Society, I think.
I actually loved reading about the wedding! I love the story of Kitty and Levin. She has really grown up a lot since the beginning of the book. Anyway, I am still enjoying the book. I can't believe that it is almost over!
We're in the homestretch - Part 7 starts this week! I really ended up liking part 6 and it's been tough waiting a month to find out what Karenin's response is to Anna, though I have a pretty good guess. I'm looking forward to finishing this one up, part 8 looks short so I'll be reading it this month too.
I have read parts 1-4 so Kitty and Levin are engaged and Anna and Vronsky have run off to Italy. I'm looking forward to getting into part 5 tomorrow.
I think part of the surprise of the book (but perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise in a book that's 800+ pages) is that no one is a simple character, all good or all bad. They are flawed and grow and change. You expect the young Kitty to grow as she recovers from her first heart break and realize her mistake.
Levin is in a constant flux - he's so affected by his internal voice that it colors how he sees everything. But he's also trying to learn practical things, as opposed to the exploration of thought that both his brothers are more interested in.
Karenin, who has a comfortable and well organized life, has to deal with very uncomfortable things and finds new depths in himself - how he comes to love his son and even Anna's daughter and how he finds freedom in forgiveness. (Remember, I haven't read part 5 or beyond yet, so I will learn more about him.)
Vronsky even grows from the man having fun with no intention of being committed to someone (like Kitty) to a man willing to sacrifice everything to be with Anna. Not that he picked a healthy relationship or means of carrying on a relationship.
I thought Part 4 was interesting with Stepan begging Karenin not to divorce his sister at the beginning, and then being the one arranging the divorce by the end of that section. Contrasted, of course, with Stepan's bringing Levin and Kitty together at dinner.
Anyway - a much easier read and more interesting than I had been afraid of. I'm glad I picked it up this year.
Just started on part 8 last night...I won't say much since I know that's not officially until next month but I do have to say that considering the end of part 7, it was quite a jarring transition for me, a large shift in tone and mood. And not entirely satisfying...but we'll see how it ends.
I have finished it - a wonderful Saturday with nothing else to do.
I agree - there is a bit of a jar between the end of part 7 and part 8. I think it ties in since the search described in part 8 is really what everyone in the whole book was searching for, but not really aware of it. (I think that's general enough that I won't get dinged for a spoiler.)
Part 7 was an interesting ride. I have a friend who went through some serious depression this summer and I thought this was a very good description of a woman in the depths of depression and no one else sees it or knows what to do.
If I had to pick a theme I guess I'd go with necessary change and progress or progressive overthrow of all convention and tradition. I felt Levin was the voice calling for reasoned and constructive change and progress without abandoning everything that had gone before. But he showed the struggles to change slowly in the face of so much inertia. No wonder people just want to throw everything out and start over.
While Anna and Vronsky showed the side that felt the only way to change was to throw out tradition and convention, but then they struggled with how to define themselves and their purpose in such a topsy turvy world. That's why they could encourage or at least be titillated by Anna and Vronsky's flirting and affair, but then not be able to handle it when she left Karenin and created a scandal.
Then you had Sergei and the other intellectuals who talked about change but didn't actually accomplish any real change.
Just when I was going to throw in the towel, you have to say something to get me interested again. Well, I have to put something else down.
>146 lauranav: I agree, Tolstoy's portrayal of Anna was excellent in Part 7, it pretty gutwrenching. You could see her coming undone for a while and then she finally snapped. I really wish that he hadn't just left that part of the story hanging in Part 8. It felt like a cop-out. Maybe he wanted to end on a more hopeful note and so stuck with Levin?
As for themes, I think that the need for change and progression is a good one. I also think that there was a running theme of exploring one's emotions and inner needs and staying true to them, vs. following what society dictates is proper. Tolstoy did a good job examining the consequences on both sides.
It was an interesting read but very long. I do want to reread it at some point, straight through without so many breaks in between, since I think I might get more out of it that way. But it'll be a while before I'm ready to tackle it again.