Anna Karenina: a perfect portrait of Russia in the 1870s

…from Tolstoy’s point of view, of course!

I have tried reading this book several times. In an attempt before my current attempt to read this book, I got through almost a 1/3 of it but without absorbing any of what was happening. It was a classic I was in a hurry to read. As I face this book as my main summer reading, it is tempting to stop now and to try to read the rest at a later date.

Why am I doing this to myself?

Well I’ll tell you…I don’t know what it is, but Leo Tolstoy can write so well, that these characters, even written about and in the 1870s, are tangible people. He is a master of dialogue, and he is as witty as the next guy.  I have to believe what he is writing, and therefore I feel it must be a perfect portrait of Russia in the 1870s. The aristocracy, the intellectual, all take front seat in this book. The poor and impoverished are depicted just as every privileged member in society perceives their position. You end up with a smattering of knowledge of these people in society, as if you are one of them. Incredible book.

And in this accurate detailing, it is of course “dense”–it’s a cake, but there’s frosting, and then a layer of sponge cake, some whipped cream, maybe even some fruit. So it takes a while, but I’ll finish reading it.

Nothing pissed me off more than when someone gave away the ending to me…unintentionally, but still. Maybe that’s why I’m not pushing along so fast.

But I think it was Tolstoy that criticized another famous writer for not writing books that are timeless–able to be read by people from all walks of life. Anna Karenina succeeds in not just being timeless for the young and old, but also for bridging generations in history.


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