Reading Anna Karenina Part 1

I finished reading part 1 of Anna Karenina this week. I’m enjoying it a lot thus far and yet at times I feel a bit discouraged by the length of the book, I’m trying to ignore it though. The reading is absolutely wonderful and a lot different from what I expected. I somehow associated Russian literature with lots of confusion about characters and a use of language that is hard to follow, but Tolstoy does a good job in introducing characters in a manner that make them stand out and thus easy to tell apart.

That being said, I do have a hard time feeling sympathetic for most of the characters. There seems to be an egoistic streak in most of them. I think the character I feel most for right now would be Levin. Somehow the storyline of his pursuit of Kitty and Vronsky’s role in it made me think that is this were a Jane Austen novel we’d be sure to know who would get the girl in the end, and who would end up as the “Mr. Wickham” of the plot. I have a feeling that this might be where this is headed, but as I know next to nothing about the plot, I’m not sure.

I do know that Anna Karenina is supposed to have an affair with someone (who I guess will be Vronsky) and that she ends up commiting suicide by throwing herself before a train. Currently, I have a hard time understanding what attracts Anna Karenina in Vronsky, but maybe his character will turn out to be more worthy throughout the novel? I can’t say I find it likely at the moment though. I’m also highly suspect of his supposed helping of the widow of the man who got killed by a trainaccident: it came across as staged.

As for the scenes that involve the marital life of Stiva and Dolly Oblonsky, I have no particular feelings on that. I do wonder why everyone is so sympathetic towards Stiva, and feels the need to rescue him.

10 responses to “Reading Anna Karenina Part 1

  1. I liked Levin more than I did other characters in this book, though I wish he didn’t sit there and stare at the sky for 20 pages at a time sometimes. I could never sympathize with Anna or Vronsky or anyone else, though.

  2. I didn´t excactly sees this one as a page-turner either, but I´m glad to hear that you´re also enjoying it. I have to admit that the characters were the main problem for me whenever I tried reading Russian lit, somehow I have trouble keeping them apart :)

  3. Oh, and I hope you had a great koniginnen day :)

  4. I’ve yet to read Anna Karenina, but it makes me a little sad to have always known how it ends. I know there are plenty of other reasons to read it than just to find out what happens, but I always wonder what it’s like to read these books with fresh eyes. Same goes for Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, etc.

  5. It is hard to feel much sympathy for any of these characters but I still end up loving the book. Will look forward to your next installment! I really need to read more Russian Literature….maybe Crime & Punishment will be next.

  6. i ve yet to read this must admit ny russian reading is one area i need to improve ,stu

  7. Glad to see you are enjoying it so far. I have yet to get the courage to start it :) I can’t believe you gave away the facts that she has an affair and commits suicide though!!! ;)

  8. I’ve loved this book so much, and more every time I’ve read it, although I’ve had varying degrees of sympathy for Anna. Sometimes I can relate to her dissatisfaction, and sometimes I want to slap her. I’d never have left my son, though, under any circumstances. This book is a great illustration of “be careful for what you wish for, you just might get it,” or better yet “your life is a direct result of the choices you make.” Wow, I sound like a teacher! ;)

  9. Levin was definitley one of the most sympathetic characters in the novel.. I actually think he was supposed to be a mini stand-in for Tolstoy himself, along with some elements from other characters. There were a lot of things that Levin does or feels that I definitley related to.

    I had the same problem about Vronsky and Anna too. As I was reading the book, I had no idea what in the world attracted Anna to Vronsky. I’m not sure I ever came up with a satisfactory answer, although I did manage to come up with some theories. I’ll be interested to hear if you come up with better ones than mine….

    As for Stiva. You wrote that you don’t understand why everyone is so sympathetic towards him and I assume you’re talking about the people in the book. While I was reading, I kept saying things like “wow, Stiva, you are a jerk.” But, I never really felt any real hostility towards him and I wasn’t sure why. Eventually, I came to two conclusions. One, Stiva is one of those “charming” people. There are some people that are just so suave and personable that everyone likes them and it’s hard to find fault in them, regardless of how many flaws they have. They’re just fun to be around and know how to socialize. My second reason is not why I didn’t feel hostile toward him, but somewhat an excuse for his behavior. The society they live in has different rules for men and women… so Stiva doesn’t feel guilty because he doesn’t know he should. The behavior he exhibits in the novel is acceptable for men. Not that this means I forgive him or anything.

    As you’re reading, watch out for the parts when Stiva loses his charm or feels awkward… I feel like Tolstoy is trying to make a statement about the old and new Russia and where people fit in. Or maybe not… it could just be me.

    Sorry for the ramblings, I just apparently have a lot to say about this book.

    Hope you continue to enjoy the book.

  10. I’ve just finished the first part of the book too!
    I didn’t like Levin this much actually… I think he is very needy and lacking social skills. I really like Anna, though I think she is really selfish and self centered.

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