Group Read: Anna Karenina

Converses75 Books Challenge for 2009

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Group Read: Anna Karenina

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feb. 28, 2009, 8:22pm

A bunch of people expressed an interest in reading Tolstoy's Anna Karenina this year, so I am copying the War and Peace gang and starting a thread for us! I thought we could take it slow and read about 100 pages a month; when I looked through my copy, I realized that it is split into eight sections, each of around 100 pages - how perfect! So, I thought we could officially start on March 15, and take a month to read each section. By my calculations, we will finish on November 15, so then that leaves us a month and a half to make sure that we all finish it before the year ends :)

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!

març 1, 2009, 12:33am

Cait, I wish you guys luck! I am not joining this group right now, but maybe somewhere down the line when I do not have quite so much on my plate (including both War and Peace and Don Quixote).

març 1, 2009, 9:27am

I'm in -- thanks for getting the ball rolling. The schedule sounds quite reasonable too.

març 2, 2009, 3:11am

I would also like to try to read along with you. This is one of my all-time favorite books. Thanks for starting the group!

març 2, 2009, 8:13am

If I can track down a copy in time... I'm in!

març 2, 2009, 7:15pm

Hi all! Count me in :) Not sure what translation I have yet, still have to dig the book out of whatever pile I've left in, but I'm looking forward to getting started!

març 3, 2009, 11:33am

WooHoo! I am thrilled to have some Tolstoy buddies!

març 3, 2009, 12:24pm

Cool, count me in! One of my goals for this year was to finally read Anna Karenina, so this is just perfect!

març 3, 2009, 5:47pm

OOH! I'd love to join, but...I don't know if I can handle this along with War and Peace and Don Quixote.

I'll have to think about it!

So, SO many thick classics that I haven't read yet, sigh...

març 3, 2009, 11:38pm

I reread Anna Karenina just last summer, so I won't be giving it another go quite yet. I am envious of all who will read it for the first or even the second time.

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."

març 4, 2009, 6:47am

I also read Anna Karenina last year, hence won't be able to join in. I do have however, Don Quixote, War and Peace, Bleak House and Mac's Halloween group reads to look forward to.

Editat: juny 9, 2009, 5:39pm

(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.

març 7, 2009, 6:40am

Hopefully, I'll be able to be find a copy in the library before March 15th. If so, I'll join in too!

març 7, 2009, 6:44pm

Hey Cait! I was just wondering about this... must have seen it on your 'list of books to read in March' and thought you might start something.

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.

març 10, 2009, 12:11am

I've been wanting to read Anna Karenina for awhile. I'm glad I finally have an excuse!

març 10, 2009, 12:42am

I'm going to sit this one out - I'm way behind in the W&P timetable (Stasia don't read this!) and caxn't manage both at once. Have fun!

març 10, 2009, 11:50am

#16: I did not see a thing . . .

març 15, 2009, 8:05am

Happy March 15th Everyone!

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 :)

març 17, 2009, 9:42am

And we're off! First impressions, anyone?

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.

Editat: març 20, 2009, 8:51am

Yay, just got my copy! I'll probably get started after this coming weekend... there's just too much going on to start right away. I'm excited... I don't think this is something I would read on my own, so I'm looking forward to the discussions and so forth on this thread.

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.

Editat: març 20, 2009, 4:44am

OMG, I just saw this thread... I've never read Tolstoy. I gotta see if my Chapters has a decently priced copy so I can get in on this fun.

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...

març 20, 2009, 10:14pm

I'm a bit late, but I'm going to join in too. I just need to stop by my local Borders and pick up a copy first. haha

març 20, 2009, 10:28pm

Glad to have more joiners! And don't worry about starting late, I haven't read this month's section yet either - we have until April 15th. :)

març 22, 2009, 7:10pm

OK I'm in. I have the Penguin Edition. I'm not sure if I can keep up but I'll try, if I don't join this, I think the book will sit, looking large on my shelf for years. I started already, giving myself a head start, and am on page 60ish. So far, I like! It is much easier to read than I thought. I was expecting Middlemarch type reading - and no I haven't finished that yet either.

març 23, 2009, 9:15am

Prince Stiva is a dolt and Dolly is a woose. But well, they patched things up (sort of with the help of Anna). Vronsky and Levin; right now I just want to shake them. And the silly mother of Kitty, my goodness, glad she wasn't my mom. Does she not have a brain in her head. Oh yeah, belva: remember the era, remember the era.
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.

març 23, 2009, 3:17pm

Interesting that he's called "Stiva" in your edition, NB. I was wondering whether or not other translations referred to him as "Steve", like mine does, because it sounds so non-Russian to me and I'm find it distracting.

març 23, 2009, 4:09pm

spacespuds, I can certainly see how that would be distracting. (the whole Stephen, Stephan, Steve, Stiva thing) I wish I was like some on LT and could read in the language whatever I am reading was written. How are you finding the read though? From where I am currently it is starting to get pretty good. Anna is beginning to do her thing which is what it is all about.
Happy reading.
P.S. Catcha a few pages down I hope.

març 23, 2009, 9:21pm

Thanks sydamy for posting the link to this group so I could find it. I was planning to read Anna Karenina for 999 this year and it kind of got put on the back burner. This is motivating me to get it started. I have the Constance Garnett translation in hard bound which I'll start reading over the weekend (have too much on my plate to start it much earlier) and hope I can find a paper back copy of the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation next time I get to a book store. It will be easier to haul around!

Editat: març 23, 2009, 11:02pm

NB, I'm still at pg. 25, so not a whole lot of action yet, but I have also found it easier than I expected it to be. I'm pacing myself with the reading (I've got another novel on the go, plus school work) but when I do sit down to read, it's pretty quick. Keeping track of the characters is the only thing that trips me up but my book has a list at the beginning so I refer to that when I need to.

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.

Editat: març 28, 2009, 4:40am

(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.

març 31, 2009, 1:14am

Just popping in to say that I got the Penguin Pevear/Volokhonsky translation and am motoring at page 25. Like others, I am surprised how easy it is to read. I have already popped a couple choice quotes in my book journal that I loved.

març 31, 2009, 7:29pm

I finished the first 100 pages on a flight yesterday. I too am finding it easier to read than I expected. I have the Carmichael translation, which keeps the names (like Stiva) truer to form. I must say, I'm surprised that Anna figured not so prominently in these first pages. It seems the book should have been named Kitty Shcherbatsky instead, but I guess that doesn't have the same ring to it.

abr. 6, 2009, 6:10pm

I have also finished the first part. I 'm so glad I've joined this group, I think I would have been intimidated to start this on my own, and now I can see, for no real reason. The book is not difficult to read. Although it is long, nothing so far seems unnecessary. I can't wait to keep reading. I also find it fascinating when authors do not introduce the main character till quite far into the book.

abr. 6, 2009, 6:16pm

I hope to be picking this up at my library next month, so I can finally start too. Pretty sure I'll still manage to finish it before November 15, because I have a lot of free time this year. :) So, once I have this book I'll be back posting here. :)

abr. 6, 2009, 6:45pm

I got my PB copy in the translation I wanted (but I hate the cover!) and plan to start it before the end of this month. I have a bit of "deck clearing" to do first!

abr. 6, 2009, 7:12pm

>33 sydamy: I hear what you're saying, sydamy... I would have hesitated to start it on my own, and now that's I've finished the first part in 3 days because it is so easy to read I'm raring to keep going!

abr. 7, 2009, 11:18pm

I'm still here, really! Just started reading my copy today, and I'm about 30 pages in... unfortunately I also have the flu, so by then I needed to put the book down and have a nap, but... I was also surprised by its readability, and am looking forward to pressing on!

abr. 8, 2009, 10:02am

I'm about halfway through part 1, hope to be finished by the 15th. I have also found it easier than I expected but so far, I really don't care about the any of the characters. We'll see how it develops...

Editat: abr. 11, 2009, 11:34am

Ok, finished part 1! I've been battling a sinus infection all week so while I've been laid up with that, I managed to get caught up on my reading (in between naps, lol).

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.

abr. 11, 2009, 11:21am

spacespuds; your translation does indeed sound like it would be distracting at the very least. Now that you're getting into the story perhaps it will not continue to be so. Are you anxious for the 15th? I certainly cannot wait!~! I am excited to get back into "Anna".
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

Editat: abr. 12, 2009, 9:44am

I definitely want to keep going now that I'm starting to get into the plot. I guess with these longer novels, it's more of a slow build than it is with the "regular" length ones so I just have to learn to sit back and go with the flow!

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?

abr. 12, 2009, 11:59pm

I am finally starting Part 1 tonight. I know that I am late, but I love the book and I think that I can catch up. :) There are so many wonderful group reads going on around here these days!

abr. 13, 2009, 1:11pm

I can finally get my book from the library tomorrow. So I guess I'm going to have to catch up the next 2 weeks. ;)

abr. 13, 2009, 7:38pm

I have to admit that I've already started on Part II... I got too curious and wanted to see what happened next.

abr. 14, 2009, 7:38am

Starting in part I today, just got my book. :)

abr. 14, 2009, 6:09pm

I just finished Part 1. What a great story! I am enjoying it alot.

abr. 14, 2009, 7:32pm

Just finished part one, in one day! Really love it. :)

abr. 15, 2009, 12:42pm

Hey Everyone! Part 2 reading officially starts today :)

abr. 15, 2009, 2:30pm

Whoo-hoo! Finished part 1 last night... and I'm really intrigued. I have no idea what's going to happen with the Anna/Vronsky business, and I really just wanted to slap her husband when he met her at the train station.

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.

abr. 17, 2009, 10:13am

I just finished part 2 already! I really love the story and just can't stop reading.

I'm going to read in The Stand again now, because I'm behind on that one and so I won't end up reading most of Anna Karenina in one week.

abr. 18, 2009, 1:29am

#49: Discussion time! Can you explain why you thought Anna's husband was so bad at the train station? I actually felt somewhat sympathetic to him in Part I. I thought he was a bit doddering and obviously what matters most to him is his routine and he has troubles expressing emotions... but I didn't think he was horrible. It seemed to me that they have been married for awhile, and he treated Anna the same as he always did and, of course, didn't expect his wife to come back changed and view him so contemptuously...

abr. 18, 2009, 2:03am

I don't know. (Just jumping in here.) I thought he was kind of cold and condescending to her. And remember how he sent her off alone and then was too busy to spend any time with her on her first day back?

I do think that Tolstoy sort of paints Anna in a sympathetic light.

abr. 18, 2009, 8:37am

I thought he was pretty condescending as well... a bit snarky, you know? I imagine him saying his lines, things like "how wonderful to see you" (or whatever) with a big smirk on his face and overexaggerated gestures. I my husband talked to me like that, I'd probably slap him or yell at him. It's also particularly rude when you think that it was Anna's first time away from her son, and he doesn't make any effort to console or reassure her once she's home, instead telling her rather sharply that the kid was fine, get over it.

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.

abr. 19, 2009, 7:53am

I was such a good girl---waited until midnight on the 14th (E.T.; we are P.T. hee hee) to begin the second part. Finished it midway through the next day and really, REALLY didn't want to stop. It is getting so good. The characters are all fleshing out and shaping up, things are beginning to come together, it's starting to make sense, people are beginning to see...hmmmmmm...until May 15.
Happy reading. Enjoy

abr. 23, 2009, 4:17am

#52 & 53: I'm starting to think this is a translation thing? I'm looking at mine and I'm still not seeing the cruelty in mine, even though the basic actions are the same. I have at the end of Chapter 30:
"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.

abr. 23, 2009, 4:29am

Yes, my translation is different. It just mentions a bantering tone (the part about meaning what he has said in not included), but there is a reference to squeezing her hand. His comments to Vronsky were termed cold. And his manner was one of cold self-confidence. So, I guess the translation varies here.

abr. 26, 2009, 9:36am

>55 Cauterize: My translation says essentially the same thing:

"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.

abr. 27, 2009, 12:49am

I pretty much agree with that, too. I need to read some more and see what the next part holds. You know, I had always that it would be great to learn Russian, but I never did study it.

Editat: abr. 27, 2009, 9:04am

>58 billiejean:: One time I wanted to learn Russian so badly that I took a book out of the library and started working through it... one of those 'Teach Yourself whatever' books, and it was great until I took the book back and never bothered to buy my own copy. Very stupid of me... for awhile I knew the alphabet, but now the only thing I can remember how to say is 'thank you' and 'what cat?' LOL

abr. 27, 2009, 9:08am

I added Anna Karenina to my books to read list recently, so this thread is well timed (ish...I see I have to read an extra section to keep up!) But yes, I am in for this.

abr. 27, 2009, 12:53pm

#59 I always wondered how it would be to tackle the different alphabet. How did you learn pronunciation? I really need to work on my Spanish for now, but how fun would it be to learn Russian? The only Russian that I ever knew came from Cold War spy novels. Haha! My dad got to make a short visit to Russia a couple of years ago. I hope that I can too some day.

#60 This is a great way to read a great book! You will catch up in no time.

abr. 27, 2009, 1:41pm

Russian is on my list of languages I hope to someday learn. I can already say a few things because one of my good friends is of Russian descent. The other languages are French (I have high school French), Mandarin, Hindi, and also be able to read and write Greek, Latin and Sanskrit (I love classical history). I know this will be an impossible mountain to climb!

abr. 27, 2009, 3:11pm

My daughter is the same way! She wants to learn all languages. She has been learning Urdu from a friend at school. She studies both Spanish and German at school. And then she has learn on your own books for Greek, Latin, Welsh, and French. I guess that is why she wants to be a translator! She was planning to learn Russian, too. I think she went German instead. I think that learning another language is pretty useful. Good luck, Cauterize! You can do it!

abr. 28, 2009, 5:11am

#63: Thanks billiejean! I usually start out with languages pretty well, but it's the usage that always fails me. I forgot to mention that I did four courses in Mandarin in University and even did a 5 week travel study... but now 7 years later, I've forgotten most of it because I don't use it. Argh.

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.

abr. 28, 2009, 8:36am

Spoiler Alert! (Since this is last month's reading, I was not sure if I needed this, but added it just in case.)

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.

Editat: abr. 28, 2009, 11:36am

I agree on Vronsky, but I also don't think Levin is much better. He seems just as arrogant to me, but in a different way - more of a self-righteous type. He believes himself to be a better man than Vronsky, and in some ways I think he is. But then he ruins it by getting a big head about it.

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.

abr. 30, 2009, 6:25pm

With Levin, I get the impression that Tolstoy is trying to make him seem not too bad by giving him the two brothers on opposite extremes, thereby making Levin seem 'normal'ish. :)

maig 4, 2009, 6:15am

#67: Exactly what I was thinking earlier! Still not quite sure what to think of him though.

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! :)

maig 5, 2009, 9:07am

Can't wait 'til the 15th to get on with it. Was really getting into it when the 2nd portion ended and I had to stop. Arggggggggggggggggggggg!~!
I am sitting here wishing my life away until the 15th!
(and yeah, I wanted to smack their heads together)

maig 13, 2009, 6:42pm

#69 -- exactly! I just finished part two last night. I'm glad Friday's only a coupla days away. Starting to get pretty interesting...

maig 13, 2009, 6:59pm

Wahoo, I'm with you guys... can't wait until Friday! I was considering going to a concert Saturday night, but if I don't, it means I can stay home and read part 3... what to do, what to do...!?!

maig 13, 2009, 11:55pm

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.

maig 14, 2009, 7:14pm

Hi Everyone! I just finished reading Anna Karenina on my own and wanted to say that I loved it! It continues being readable and the characters develop more and more as it goes on. Well worth the effort you put into it. Happy reading!

maig 15, 2009, 6:50pm

Hey everyone - enjoy part three of Anna Karenina this month! Today is the day we officially start it :)

maig 16, 2009, 2:50am

Just checking in to let everyone know that I will be running a little behind with the book this month due to my daughter's graduation. I am just too distracted to read anything right now. But I am loving reading it again. :) I will catch up soon.

maig 16, 2009, 8:37am

I hope everyone is still enjoying it! :) I've already finished it earlier this month because it had to be returned to the library.

maig 17, 2009, 1:20am

I have it and never finished it. This seems like a good time.

Editat: maig 19, 2009, 12:51am

I know that you started reading it earlier, but I'd really like to join you. I'm only on p. 29.

maig 19, 2009, 2:15am

Hey, just saw you over at War and Peace. I am catching up, too. This is one of my all time favs.

maig 19, 2009, 8:17am

Welcome - the more the merrier!!

maig 19, 2009, 9:01am

I'm a little behind since I've been away for a couple of weeks but here are my thoughts on Part II.

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?

Editat: maig 20, 2009, 12:11am

I'm restarting tonight!:)

I read a whopping 6 pages.

maig 26, 2009, 8:39pm

I'll be starting AK in a few days and look forward to catching up with the group. Thanks nannybebette for bringing this to my attention and finally letting the book stick in my hand after months of fondling.

maig 26, 2009, 9:15pm

You are so more than welcome and I am sure Anna Karinina would not complain about the fondling. I hope you enjoy the group and welcome aboard!~!

Editat: maig 27, 2009, 9:33pm

Is anyone else finding part 3 to be a little....boring, compared to the first two parts? I'm about 20 or so pages in and my eyes just keep glazing over.

Welcome to the group, Banoo! Hope you enjoy the book :)

juny 1, 2009, 12:47am

#84... thanks n/b. she's likes the fondling much so far.

#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.

juny 1, 2009, 9:23am

In my version, Part 3 is between pg. 234 and 348. I finished it the other day and it's not all boring but it did feel like it dragged on more so than the previous two parts. I think it's all the farm talk that Tolstoy gets into. It does give us insight into who Levin is as a person and insight into Russia in the late 1800s but wow, is it ever dry, at least for me.

juny 1, 2009, 9:38pm

Is there anyone here who would be interested in reading this book with me next year (2010)? I couldn't join in this read because of my other group reads this year, but I know I'm going to need group support to motivate me. If anyone's interested, please send me a PM. Thanks!!


juny 3, 2009, 12:01am

I'm nearing the end of part one... slowly catching up. The ball has just finished and Anna is rushing out with the intention of leaving for St Petersburg tomorrow. I'll be leaving for Moscow in a few hours where I'll stay for a few days before taking a train to St Petersburg. Hopefully I'll run into her. And i will be careful at the station.

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...

juny 3, 2009, 1:29am

Banoo it's great that youi'll be reading AK in Russia!

#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...

juny 3, 2009, 12:29pm

That would be great, CMT! I went out and got the book to join in this read, and then realized it would be too stressful for me if I felt pressured by all my group reading deadlines. Reading should be fun, not stressful. Hopefully next year. Meanwhile this big fat tome is taunting me from my shelf!

juny 3, 2009, 6:33pm

Banoo, have a great trip! I always love seeing places that were mentioned in books I've read but I've never been able to read a book in its actual setting, very cool!! Looking forward to seeing your photos :)

juny 6, 2009, 6:31am

Tomorrow will be visiting Tolstoy's house. Today was more like War & Peace. Saw the Tsar cannon and walked down the Arbat.

juny 9, 2009, 5:59pm

Berly is joining us on this read folks. There is no sign up post for "Anna" is there? She can just jump in, right?

juny 9, 2009, 6:12pm

# 93
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.

juny 9, 2009, 6:18pm

Regarding part three of the book; I quite liked it. I liked how he would have all these wonderful agricultural ideas and then let someone shoot him down and talk him out of them or discourage him from following through with his plans. It felt quite real to me.
Likewise the relationship between the brothers; pretty realistic.
But, in point of fact, I cannot wait until the 15th to get on with it!~!

juny 9, 2009, 6:19pm

#94 - Of course, just join in on the convo :) No sign up anywhere.

juny 9, 2009, 10:59pm

still in the first part myslef. I'll fill in more tomorrow.

juny 9, 2009, 11:23pm

Read Anna in college (loved it!), but reading madly to catch up so I can be fresh and pithy in my comments! Thanks for the intro Belva (#94) ;)

juny 13, 2009, 2:41am

Read Part 3 now... sorta mixed feelings about it! In some ways the agricultural stuff was a bit dry to get through (me being a hardcore city girl) but I keep wavering back and forth whether Levin likes the peasants or whether he despises them. It's all very interesting when you know from history that the Revolution is coming up.

juny 15, 2009, 2:37pm

Today is June 15 - let Part 4 officially begin!!

juny 15, 2009, 2:49pm

Welcome, Berly! Hope you're enjoying it so far :)

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: (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 :)

juny 15, 2009, 4:26pm

Whoo Hoo!~!

juny 30, 2009, 5:12pm

Aquest missatge ha estat suprimit pel seu autor.

Editat: ag. 20, 2009, 4:49am

Well... I'm back from Russia. Have been back for a while but have been very busy. I'm nearing the end of Part 5 and must say that I connect with Levin in ways that are scary. The 'Death' chapter was brilliant. For me, Levin and Kitty (Katia) are the two characters that are driving this novel. Maybe the title should have been called 'Levin'.

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.

jul. 7, 2009, 2:59am


Nice photos and footnotes. :)

I enjoyed reading your review of War and Peace too. How do yo compare Pierre and Levin?

jul. 7, 2009, 4:59am

Great photos! I want to go now.

jul. 7, 2009, 1:21pm

Anyone sure about what part we are currently on?

jul. 8, 2009, 8:14am

I believe we're supposed to be at around page 400 by the 15th?

jul. 8, 2009, 9:57am

Yes, we are to be finishing up Part 4.

jul. 8, 2009, 10:04am

Oh, thank you. I am on task then. For the life of me I could not remember if it was part 4 or 5.

jul. 14, 2009, 8:22pm

Is anybody listening to an audiobook?

jul. 15, 2009, 12:37pm

#105 Loved the photos!! By the way, the copy of AK that I am reading is the third one that I have bought, and it has Levin on the cover. All other copies of the book that I have seen have Anna on the cover. I tend to agree that it is more about him and Kitty at least in the parts that I have read lately. Still loving the story.

jul. 15, 2009, 2:31pm

Well, I am glad everyone is enjoying Anna so far. To be honest, I am very far behind, but I hope to catch up this month! Since today is the 15th, we are on to our next section, Part 5. Enjoy, discuss, and all that good stuff!

jul. 16, 2009, 11:13pm

Started listening to the audiobook version of AK, narrated by Nadia May. I'm at Part I, chapter 24.

How did Kitty's father see through Vronsky so easily?

jul. 17, 2009, 11:22am

>115 booksontrial: I figure it's a guy thing. Kitty's father was a young man once, he knows the tricks.

Banoo, your pictures are beautiful! It looks like a lovely trip.

jul. 17, 2009, 6:03pm

Finished Part II.

#116: spacepotatoes,

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.

Editat: jul. 17, 2009, 10:00pm

On a lighter note, I find some passages about Levin hilarious.

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?"

jul. 18, 2009, 10:35pm

I read Part 5 of "Anna"last night after finishing Part 1 of "Pillars" for that group read and anyone else who does the same might want to read something in between. I found it very boring getting back into "Anna" right after "Pillars". It took quite a while to get back into the flow of the novel again. So I learned something. Next time I will pick up something else in between "parts" for group reads.

jul. 19, 2009, 12:50pm

Finished Part IV.

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.

jul. 19, 2009, 1:48pm

#120 great summary

jul. 19, 2009, 4:20pm

Agreed, booksontrial. I also felt some sympathy for him when he was ready to start over with the very sick Anna, but she was having none of it.

jul. 20, 2009, 4:29am

Well I finally caught up with my reading - and worked my way to the end of pat 5, so I am now a few days ahead.

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.

jul. 20, 2009, 3:47pm

Finished Part V, and on to Part VI.

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.

#123: sirfurboy,

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."

jul. 20, 2009, 10:01pm

#124: Booksontrial, you are really flying through this book! Just to let you know, we are only reading part V this month, so as you finish the book and comment on it, please remember to put spoiler warnings before it, since I am very far behind, and don't want to read something I shouldn't. Thanks! Enjoy the rest of the book!

Editat: jul. 22, 2009, 3:23am

Finished the book.

#125: Cait86,

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 :).

jul. 24, 2009, 12:23am

#126... i finished too and i second what you've said, booksontrial... it's all about levin and for that i'm happy. if it were all about anna i think i would have drifted off.

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.

jul. 27, 2009, 10:54am

I just finished Part V this morning and I have to confess that this book is beginning to feel like it's just dragging on and on and on. The story is interesting but the pace slow as molasses sometimes. And while I appreciate Tolstoy's attention to detail, sometimes I wish he'd just say what's happening and move on rather than taking pages and pages to describe something (Levin's wedding, for example). Maybe it's just me and the summer months are not the right ones for a big, sprawling work like this?

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.

jul. 27, 2009, 2:21pm

I think you are right about the indictment of society, because I was thinking that some of these same people facilitated Anna and Vronsky meeting each other before the Karenins separated, didn't they?

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!

jul. 27, 2009, 8:51pm

I agree that Kitty has matured a lot, and I do think their story is actually pretty cute. The wedding had good moments, I loved that both of them kind of fumbled their way through it. It just felt like Tolstoy was describing every last second of it when he didn't need to.

ag. 15, 2009, 5:40pm

Today is the 15th - welcome to Part 6!!

ag. 15, 2009, 8:02pm

I put it down a while ago and I thought y'all finished. yippee, I'll go back to reading it.

ag. 15, 2009, 8:21pm

This is one of my favorite books,but I just joined LibraryThing so missed the dicussion. Please let me know if you start over at any time ygp

ag. 24, 2009, 3:35pm

I couldn't wait to read Part 6. Let me just say that I love the character Laska (the dog).

ag. 25, 2009, 7:11pm

#134... BJ, I agree. Laska was one cool dog. Kind of made me wish I could go hunting with Levin and Laska, my 2 favorite characters. I really liked the way Tolstoy got into the head of the dog and brought him to life.

ag. 25, 2009, 11:16pm

Oh my, I haven't gotten to that part where he is in the dog's head. This is interesting.

ag. 26, 2009, 9:22am

Yes, I'm looking forward to that part too! I'm just on the second morning of the hunting trip so far. I have to say, though, that I'm surprised by part 6. This is the first part that really grabbed me from the beginning and I've actually been smiling and laughing through it. Tolstoy finally brought out his sense of humour! And I think we can really see how Kitty and Levin have grown as people and as a couple now and they are such cute newlyweds. I needed a boost to get back into this book and it looks like so far, part 6 is just right.

set. 15, 2009, 2:56pm

Where'd everybody go?!

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.

set. 15, 2009, 3:25pm

I am also planning to go ahead and read both 7 & 8 since 8 is short! I am about halfway through 7.

set. 15, 2009, 4:50pm

I'm still in! Can't wait to start Part 7 and I like the idea of wrapping up 8 as well.

set. 15, 2009, 9:37pm

Enjoy part 7 everyone!

set. 16, 2009, 7:53pm

I'm still in but I'm behind.

set. 18, 2009, 10:00pm

I am very late joining in, I just started last week. But I'm enjoying this so much that I'm not sure I could take 8 months to finish it (plus it's a library book).

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.

set. 19, 2009, 12:27pm

>143 lauranav: I think reading it all at once is probably the better way to go, lauranav. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it wasn't spread out over such a long time. Which is not to say I didn't like it, I did, but I will definitely have to reread it sometime when I can just do it straight through. I'm really curious to see how your opinions of Karenin and Vronsky change (or not) as you're very right about the complex characters, my opinions of them have changed a lot as I read through the different parts of the book.

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.

set. 22, 2009, 5:26pm

LOL, actually I got behind as well... I had to return the book to the library and then take it out again so I'm halfway through Part V. It's been slow going because I was bored in the beginning of this Part (the wedding). Trying to catch back up, though.

set. 22, 2009, 9:28pm

>144 spacepotatoes: spacepotatoes (or is that spacespuds :-)

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.


set. 29, 2009, 1:43pm


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.

nov. 7, 2009, 10:17pm

Finished! Phew! Am I the last one? Where did everybody go?

nov. 8, 2009, 7:34am

Don't know, but I'm around. Not finished though

nov. 8, 2009, 7:48am

I finished back in September but forgot to come back and post a review! It is here, if anyone is curious:

>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.

nov. 9, 2009, 3:38pm

I liked your review