Anna Karenina is a magnificent contribution to world literature from the Russian Republic thus making the author Leo Tolstoy a writer par excellence. It came out as a serial in a periodical called The Russian Messenger from 1873 to 1877. Then due to difference of opinion with the publisher the story was not completed in the periodical but the complete story was first published in a book a few years later. This novel is considered as realistic fiction and is rated as one of the best novels of Leo Tolstoy. Famous writers over the world have showered eloquent praises on the book. It still remains a popular book with students of literature who appreciate the depth of the plot and its enchanting language.
Anna Karenina is still a popular novel and has been made into film and few years before. Time magazine had stated it as one of the “greatest novels ever written”. The plot being human relationships, its weaknesses and strengths till date is something the audience can relate to. Human mind and its emotions never change and that is what makes Anna Karenina still a sought after novel. Dolly Oblonskaya finds out that her husband Stiva was cheating on her by having an affair with the former governess. Anna Karenina the protagonist, the sister of Stiva comes to their household to sort out the issue.
The story opens to this situation and Anna the wife of Karenin, a government official, is all set to resolve the issue. Anna is beautiful, intelligent and charming, making her a very popular person amongst family and friends. Anna manages to bring together her brother and Dolly. Dolly’s sister Kitty is courted by two men and she has to choose between the two. She settles for the military man Alexei Vronsky over the landowner Konstantin Levin. But things don’t go as planned, for Vronsky falls in love with Anna much to the surprise of Anna and anger of Kitty. Anna ponders over this and dismisses it as infatuation and goes back to her husband in St. Petersburg.
The Turn of Events
Kitty falls ill on losing her love and Levin is also sad at being rejected by Kitty. So what started off as congenial situation turns depressive after these incidents. Vronsky, we realize does not consider his love for Anna as mere infatuation and follows her to St. Petersburg. There they meet and they are drawn into each other’s company making Karenin suspect their relationship. Initially Anna dismisses this statement from Karenin but soon realizes it is true.
Next time Karenin confronts her with the same allegation, which is during a horse race, Anna candidly admits her relationship and this leaves Karenin shocked. Kitty, meanwhile is recovering in a spa and by turn of events gets to meet Levin again and slowly their relationship blossom and they get married. Things at the Karenin household are not so good. Anna asks for divorce which Karenin does not give as his reputation in the society might be slurred. But seeing the intensity of their relationship he eventually relents but this is upset with Anna’s childbirth. She begs his forgiveness and Karenin grants and leaves the decision of the divorce to Anna.
The Tragic End of Anna
Anna being the headstrong woman that she is does not want to live on the generosity of her husband and goes away with Vronsky to Italy. The life with Vronsky is also not too exciting and both return to Russia but Anna is spurned by the society as she had indulged in adultery. Society, those days and even now has a different scale for men and women. While Vronsky continued with his socializing, Anna was shunned into loneliness and boredom. The relationship between Anna and Vrosnky slowly begins to sour and they continue to live together without a divorce from Karenin. The life of Kitty and Levin also sees many upheavals but eventually Levin realizes that his love for wife and children is strong and then on his family becomes important in his life.
But for Anna, things become worse and as days go by she picks up quarrels with Vronsky and slowly the love and romance in their life takes a backseat. This is something that Anna cannot bear and she ends up her life by jumping in front of a train though she was going to meet Vronsky to patch up. This is not surprising for people who read about Anna as she was always impulsive. Vronsky dedicates the rest of his life for the Salvic cause.
Characters with Flesh
The characters of this novel are all very strong but Anna stands out amongst them. She is woman who wants to live life the way she wants and she even chooses her death. All the characters, especially the women are well etched out and adultery is the underscore of the novel. The mood swings of Anna have been very well portrayed and slow deterioration of mental strength is subtly brought out by Leo Tolstoy. Vronsky is described as the most dashing young man capable of flooring any women. Till the very end he is true to Anna but Anna fails to realize it.
The story mainly moves around Anna and Vronsky and since Anna has a brother and a husband the spotlight moves on them and the people around them. It can be said that other than this couple it also dwells a lot on Kitty and Levin. The former relationship ends on a tragic note while the latter ends on a positive note. It has not been staged too often as it is solely dependent on the human emoting. The sets are as important as the actors. The film did well as it captures all the nuances very well and it is considered as one of the classics in the film world. However there is no better feeling than taking the book up and reading it from the beginning till end as fast as possible. The story is gripping, the style eloquent and there is nothing that stops one from reading it at one go except the fact it is a book of many pages.