Reading Anna Karenina Part 2

I haven’t updated on my reading of Anna Karenina in a long time. Not because I’m too lazy to write about it, but because it took a long time to finish part 2 of the book. Mind you, I didn’t read slow because I don’t enjoy reading it. It seems that these last weeks in which I was ill and had a lot of course work to finish didn’t leave me with enough time to really sit down and read the book. Most of the time I read one chapter before turning off the light and trying to sleep. And I’ve found out that going through Anna Karenina one chapter at a time doesn’t work for me. I need to be more immersed in the story. So these last few days, despite still being incredibly busy, I reserved at least an hour to read Anna Karenina and it’s working very well. I made lots of progress and I’m enjoying the story more because I don’t need to try to remember what happened three chapters ago during my reading.

I really enjoy reading Anna Karenina thus far. There are certain parts that seem a bit long, especially the ones that discuss farming, but they always end before I can think ‘please move on to a different subject’. I wonder how I’ll deal with the paragraphs on this subject in other parts, but for now I don’t mind them. They’re not my favourite however. There are also paragraphs about religion, which might seem a bit long to others, but I find them very interesting. I have decided that I’m reading the book for the story just now, but I’d love to reread it some time and look at the passages on religion specifically. I’m not sure if there’s more on the subject in other parts of the story, however.

In other news I’ve found out that I am possibly reading the worst translation of Anna Karenina. There are lots of simple spelling or grammar mistakes and some of the sentences are constructed in a very weird manner or simply seem to end halfway. I hope I get to reread it in a different translation sometime, but I guess I had better finish this one first.

As for the characters, **this may contain spoilers for those who have never heard/read (about) Anna Karenina** I am still to fall in love with either Anna or Vronsky. I feel Anna is very selfish, although I admit that she probably finds herself in a marriage that doesn’t allow her much space or feel much love for anyone. Vronsky is the character I find the hardest to understand. I simply cannot see what Anna sees in him. Maybe that will change as I get a closer look at his character throughout the book. It does seem that there’s more attention to showing his side of things in part two. As in part one, I feel most partial to the storylines of Kitty and Levin. Kitty is definitely growing on me. I didn’t much like her in part one, but seeing her go through heartbreak and her trying to find herself in pietism made me grow more fond of her. As for Oblonsky, I’m still not sure what to feel towards him, he seems very stubborn. At this moment I’m mostly curious to find out what will happen with Kitty and Levin and how Karenin will react to Anna’s confession. Like Oblonsky, I’m not sure what to make of Karenin either. On the one hand I feel sympathy towards him, he does seem to care about his wife cheating on him. But then I’m not sure if that’s because he cares for her or for his reputation. If the latter is true, I think I could very well grow to dislike him more than I like him. He seems so eager about his work and reputation and that is getting on my nerves.

9 responses to “Reading Anna Karenina Part 2

  1. I skipped the spoiler section, in case I ever get around to reading this. Too bad that you have such a bad translation! That can’t help the project :(

  2. I also enjoyed reading the Kitty and Levin storyline more than the Anna and Vronsky one. I did try to like Anna but found it difficult to have much sympathy for her.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re enjoying the book so far. I’ll have to reread it myself sometime, but like you, I would prefer to try a different translation as I wasn’t happy with the Wordsworth edition either.

  3. I agree that this is a book you need to read and really lose yourself in – a chapter here and there just won’t do! The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation is outstanding! If that’s not the one you’re reading, I definitely recommend making a switch now.

  4. I don’t know which translation is best, but if you can find a good one instead of your cruddy one, I’d second JoAnn’s suggestion that you switch. A bad translation can kill a book for me.

  5. I love this book so much. I remember writing a paper on it in college many years ago, but I’ve read it several times since high school and on. Probably when I was in high school there wasn’t a good translation to be found, but I muddled through fascinated in Anna’s character. It is always a lesson to me about how much woe being discontent can bring to one’s life.

  6. I agree. Something that immense is difficult to read chapter by chapter. It helps to have the time to invest in such a chunkster. I have yet to read this one, so I’ve skipped the spoiler section, just in case.
    Happy Reading!

  7. I simply loved the emotional drama between Anna, Karenin and Vronsky even if they weren’t nice people, it was utterly absorbing, the choices they made. Especially Karenin, oddly. I found Kitty and Levin a bit (or a lot) dull in comparison! It’s the memory of all the farming and hunting that puts me off wanting to reread it in a hurry. I wasn’t working the summer when I read this, so was able to speed through it in six days, but certainly haven’t managed anything like that since! It makes me think I can somehow read long books in one day by magic and will power and I’m sadly finding that’s just not possible! I’m sure I read it so quickly because Anna’s part of the story was so engaging to me.

    As far as the translation goes, I’d really urge you to switch if you’re not liking it. While I was reading Proust — which took two years not six days! — I switched from a good translation to a great one, which I think was enriching, to see how different people retold the story. The story matters more than the translation, don’t mess up a potentially great reading experience with a version you don’t enjoy! There’s no law that says you can’t switch. I didn’t start reading Anna Karenina until I found a translation that really drew me in, Constance Garnett’s, which is old fashioned and won’t be everyone’s thing but I liked it.

  8. Boo hiss I hate Karenin (but I’m on Part 4 so that’s more time to hate him). I think Tolstoy wants to show all his characters as being nuanced – not good, or bad and I can appreciate that, but when I let myself look at the book with my modern eye I hate Karenin (and I’m less than crazy about Levin). I begin to see Anna and Vronsky’s charms, but they’re the kind of people who you’d try to keep apart initially because they’re so bad for each other!

  9. Oh, I have attempted this book three times. Someday, maybe. I think I ruined it by watching too many versions of the movie. (I didn’t think your spoiler paragraph gave too much away.)

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