Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

I have never read Tolstoy before, but I read in several different places on the internet that "Anna Karenina" is a must-read in world literature. So, I picked up the book at the local chain bookstore and began the arduous task of reading all 923 pages. I am used to reading much shorter books, usually only taking me a few days to a week to finish. But I'm sure it took me a lot longer to get through this one. However, it's not because it is awful to read; it was just the opposite, but very long. I instantly felt drawn in to Russia, even though I've never been there. Tolstoy wrote like he saw it; I felt that I was looking through a window while reading this book. I also felt that the two plots were very nicely linked and did not cause me any confusion, but I believe it is because in this age, we are used to complicated plots and can follow them easily.
Also, I have to mention that I loved Tolstoy's view of the lives of women during this time. He shows what it was really like for a woman; to virtually be a slave to men, and if you were not married to one, than your life was difficult just based on the fact that women had no way of earning a respectable living then. If a woman fell in love, but not with her husband, what was she to do? I believe that Tolstoy feels that it is better to love, even in a scandalous situation, then to stay with the one you do not love. Anna's frustration can be summed up in this quote: "I don't want to prove anything; I merely want to live, to do no one harm but myself. I have the right to do that, haven't I?" (698). Bravo, Tolstoy!

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