Reading Anna Karenina Part 4

Yes, yes, I know what you must be thinking. Is she still reading that? Well, I am, sort of. The thing is, I had to leave my Wordsworth edition at home, due to the heaviness of the book and am now reading the free version from Also, I’m planning to stick with reading it for the upcoming weeks. So expect a weekly update until I am done. And, oh, these post might still contain spoilers for those unfamiliar with the story.

Do you remember that I complained about the Wordsworth translation before? Having now picked up a different translation, by Constance Garnett, I admit I am severely confused. Why? Because so many of the names are suddenly changed! I don’t know which of these versions contains the original names, but it took me some time to figure out who some of the characters that were mentioned were supposed to be. Now that I am used to it though, I don’t have a complaint with the translation yet. (I was hoping Violet might know more about which translator uses the right names?)

What I liked best about part 4 was without a doubt the scene in which Levin and Kitty exchange notes and come to a new understanding. That touched me, deeply.

Apart from that, there were some other memorable scenes:

  • The discussion on the rights of women. It didn’t seem to go anywhere, for now, no clear expression of what Tolstoy thought about it himself, but maybe it is an issue that will be raised again?
  • As for Anna, Vronsky and Karenin. I still don’t know what to say. What I did find intriguing is how Karenin has a change of heart and forgives everything, only to find out that maybe forgiveness isn’t all it takes to make everyone happy.

All in all, I’m still not in love with the book as some are, but still whenever I pick it up, I want to continue reading..

7 responses to “Reading Anna Karenina Part 4

  1. I wish you’d throw away those horrible translations and try and find the old Penguin Classics edition of Rosemary Edmonds’ translation and start over. It really is lovely. She was so fastidious about translating from the Russian that she insisted on the book being called Anna Karenin, which is the correct Russian form of Anna’s name.

    Names in Russian literature can be a bit tricky, as all the characters have several variations. This may help to clarify the situation.

    I think you might enjoy AK a lot more if you read a decent translation. Then again, it’s not for everyone. :)

  2. Great idea! Just a little at a time and you’ll get to the end. I never thought I’d read the final pages of Middlemarch but I did. It was always so daunting. One chapter at a time, though, is just enough to keep you feeling confident.

    It’s amazing how many free books are on Gutenburg. Kindle free!

  3. I’m not sure which translation I read of this book a few years ago but it was definitely a tedious read. I recently purchased the new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. I’ve heard this is the best one and the comments on Amazon are quite glowing. Apparently this translation just flows and you’re hardly conscious that you’re reading a translation.

  4. I was disappointed by the Wordsworth translation too. It annoyed me when I discovered that some of the Russian names had been changed. I did enjoy the story, but I would like to try a different translation sometime in the future.

  5. Well, you know how I feel about that new translation of AK. :)

    I did try reading it, but meh! It has no poetry in its soul. ;)

  6. I continue with my hatred of Karenin. I just don’t believe he’s forgiving, he’s doing what is required to stop himself seeming ridiculous to himself (he considers jealousy ridiculous) and he wants to avoid a duel which he thinks would also be ridiculous. He’s trying to trap Anna in a relationship that is stifled by his inability to express real emotion for fear of feeling he is not acting in the correct way. Awful man.

    Aww but I agree about Levin and Kitty – they’re so happy. Can it last do you think? I just finished up section five so I fear I’m coming to the depressing bits soon.

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