Friday, October 14, 2011

Anna Karenina: Week One

My Thoughts on the first 70 pages:
  1. I'm loving my edition of the book.  Translations occur at the bottom of the page, and the notes on social references are very interesting (they are in the back, but easy to flip to and well worth the effort!)
  2. The references to Pushkin's works are making me want to read more of his works.  The Tales of Belkin was one of my favorite novellas in August, so seeing him quoted by Tolstoy thrills me somewhat.
  3. The first (and only other) time I read Anna Karenina, I was around 16.  Which, unfortunately, means that it has been more than 16 years since.   This also means that I'm finding it much easier to comprehend and enjoy, as I suppose is only natural.  The reading is pretty quick, and I'm loving how philosophy is intertwined with humor.  Just what I've come to love about Tolstoy.  Because of my experience with him so far, this book isn't intimidating at all.  It doesn't even seem long (which earns me very strange looks from friends and family.)
  4. I wasn't planning on posting every week about this read-a-long, but I'm beginning to rethink's nice to have a place to record my thoughts and quotes--especially for a lengthy classic.

Quotes from the first 70 pages:
  • p. 3  He could not now be repentant that he, a thirty-four-year-old, handsome, amorous man, did not feel amorous with his wife, the mother of five living and two dead children, who was only a year younger than he. [...] He had never thought the question over clearly, but vaguely imagined that his wife had long suspected him of being unfaithful to her and was looking the other way.  It even seemed to him that she, a worn-out, aged, no longer beautiful woman, not remarkable for anything, simple, merely a kind mother of a family, ought in all fairness to be indulgent.

  • p. 9  It turned out that he had forgotten nothing, except what he had wanted to forget--his wife. [...] And his inner voice told him he should not go, that there could be nothing here but falseness,that to rectify, to repair, their relations was impossible, because it was impossible to make her attractive and arousing of love again or to make him an old man incapable of love.  Nothing could come of it now but falseness and deceit, and flaseness and deceit were contrary to his nature.

  • p. 10  She still kept saying she would leave him, yet she felt it was impossible, because she could not get out of the habit of considering him her husband and of loving him.

  • p. 41  Christ would never have said those words, if he'd known how they would be misused.  Those are the only words people remember from all the gospels.  [Referring to "lovely fallen creatures" (a phrase from Pushkin) and Luke 7:47--"Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much"]


  1. It's too late for me to join the readalong, but I read a couple of chapters everyday or so. I completely understand what you mean about Tolstoy's sense of humor, which surprised me. I always thought books like War and Peace and Anna Karenina would be beyond boring, but I was wrong. Looking forward to your thoughts.

  2. I own this same version, and I'm with you, the translation is fantastic! I remember reading it several years ago, but can't remember for the life of me if I finished it.

    Tolstoy definitely seems to look at the sunnier side of Russian culture as opposed to Dostoevsky.

    What I've discovered about Russian literature, is that, especially with Tolstoy, it reminds me of Dickens and Austen, and is just as fascinating. But I've grown to love Russian literature, and it's become one of my favorite types to read!

    I hope the story continues to be as fascinating!

  3. I loved this translation of Anna Karenina! It stands out for me because it was the first time I ever sat in a bookstore and compared two translations side by side before choosing which one to read. I'm not participating in this read-along, but will look for your posts.

  4. Darlyn, that's what I encountered when I read War and Peace a couple of years back. I thought it would be dreadfully boring and serious, but those little bits of humor make such a difference. I'm glad to know that you are reading too!

    Jeremy (right?) I'm liking Russian literature more and more as time goes by. Tolstoy especially seems to have a balanced look at humanity. Even when it's depressing, there is humor to be found.

    JoAnn, I'm glad to know that you compared the translations--I know I'm enjoying this one, but I was wondering how they compared. It feels very full of life...almost quirky in spots.

  5. I shall enjoy reading your weekly posts and favourite quotes on a much loved, yet only once read, book.

  6. I especially like the first two quotes that you posted. It saddens me that Stiva views his wife in such a way. However, I guess I must respect his "honesty." I wonder if he ever loved her or if it was a marriage of convenience much like the one Kitty's mother is so desperately trying to arrange between Kitty and Vronsky?


I'd love to hear what you have to say, leave a comment!