Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Genre: Romance, literary realism

Originally Published: 1878

No. of Pages: 848

A couple of weeks ago I finally finished Anna Karenina! Wow, what a journey…

After some thinking, I believe I cannot confine my thoughts into a book review for such a dense, intricate and multifaceted work of literature. I also do not feel that I am worthy of judging one of the most acclaimed novels in history. Therefore, I will only give some mere reflections.

Given that Anna Karenina is a romance novel, which is my favourite genre to read, I was very excited to start it. I was indeed pleasantly surprised as it began to exceed my expectations of a classic romance. Tolstoy’s novel, I feel, was ahead of its time, displaying unconventional circumstances, challenging romantic barriers, and dissecting Russian society (and not to mention his exquisite writing style).

I honestly didn’t know too much about Tolstoy before. However, after reading this, it is clear that he was a well-educated man. Tolstoy’s intelligence pervades the novel as he addresses various topics including nineteenth century Russian agriculture, politics, philosophy, theology, morality, and societal standards and behaviours. Tolstoy does not simply touch upon these issues but addresses them with careful consideration, analysis and intriguing perspectives alluding from different characters. These topical digressions seamlessly integrate with the novel’s romantic focus between Anna and Count Vronsky, as well as providing additional sub plots that provide the novel with its intriguing depth. 

What I admired most about the novel, was Tolstoy’s presentation of human relations. Tolstoy skilfully articulates the raw and intense emotions the characters feel as they fall prey to their circumstances and other’s actions. This is tactfully done through the omniscient narrator who dives into characters intimate thoughts and provides inner monologues through which the reader is able to empathise with. Anna Karenina holds an admirable truth on humans whereby loveable characters are far from perfect and depict moments of unpleasantness. Similarly, less likable characters display glimpses of agreeable qualities and exhibit hope for a chance of redemption. It is through this artistic quality that makes the characters seem so alive, tangible and relatable.

With that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed Anna Karenina and it will certainly stay with me for a long time. Tolstoy is a genius and I am SO excited to read more of his works in future.

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