Karen's pick--Anna Karenina--will be the topic of today's League of Extraordinary Reader's meeting. Below is the questionnaire that she's created for the book discussion. Each meeting, the person that submitted the coice for discussion will provide disussion points.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Constance Garnett
I chose Anna Karenina as the first to discuss in our reader’s club, not for any deep or spiritual reason, but because I finish it and wanted to discuss it. It’s as simple as that. With that said, I hadn’t realized how many translations are out there. I just decided one day that I wanted to read Tolstoy and grabbed the free version off Amazon. So, the translation I ended up with was actually translated in 1901. Apparently, there are more recent translations that could be easier to read. I didn’t find the reading difficult, just keeping up with the names was a bit of a task at first; however, it’s like reading subtitles to a movie, after a while you adapt and don’t realize that you are reading them. With the names changing you eventually grow accustomed to who is who without really noticing that you have picked up on it.
Ok, enough of my rambling. On to my questions:
Why do you think Tolstoy chose Anna Karenina as the title? I find it curious because the book doesn’t focus solely on her. It encompasses the lives of three very different couples. One could argue that it is actually more about Levin than any of the others.
The book is known for the relationship between Anna and Vronsky. People who haven’t read the book are familiar with their story and the tragic end. Why do you suppose that is? Is it because of the drama, the controversy, the forbidden love? I, personally, found the story of Levin and Kitty much more enjoyable and relatable. Honestly, I found Anna to be quite irritating at times.
This book appears to pass the test of time, and has been marked as one of the best novels of all time. What is it about Tolstoy’s writing that makes this a favorite among generations of readers?
Tolstoy’s book was published in 1877. At that time, Tsar Alexander II is in power and busy making many liberal changes, such as the emancipation of serfs in 1861, reorganizing the judicial system, abolishing corporal punishment and promoting local governments. Tolstoy brings up the political temperature of the times and includes what appears to be his opinions of that climate. Did anyone find these parts of the book intriguing?
Tolstoy used his book in a unique way to express his political views. Do you think the method of using the characters to voice his opinions was effective? Do you think this possibly had an impact on Russian views at the time?
If you were living in Russia at that the time he wrote the book, do you think it would have affected your political views?
Now to specifics of the book...I struggled with whether or not Vronsky actually cheated on Anna. I didn’t question it until the very end, Anna has just got off the train on the way to Vronsky’s mother’s when she asks for Vronsky’s whereabouts. She is told, “Count Vronsky? They sent up here from the Vronskys just this minute, to meet Princess Sorkina and her daughter.” It would appear from this reply and Vronskys hastily written note that follows, telling Anna he will be home at ten, that he is actually having an affair. There is no proof though. His mother had been trying to pair Vronsky with Princess Sorkina’s daughter for some time and she could have still been pushing by arranging for him to be picked up by them. Did Tolstoy intentionally leave this open?
There are eight parts to this book, so it is very difficult for me to pick a favorite scene or incident. Does anyone want to share a particular scene they enjoyed?
Add and share, please. Popular quotes:
First sentence: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is
“I think... if it is true that
there are as many minds as there
are heads, then there are as many
kinds of love as there are hearts.”
“Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.”
“Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have
lain there unnoticed. ”
“I've always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole
person, just as he or she is, and not as you would like them to be.”