By Leo Tolstoy
"Anna Karenina" tells of the doomed love affair among the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the speeding officer, count number Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and needs to undergo the hypocrisies of society. Set opposed to an unlimited and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel's seven significant characters create a dynamic imbalance, enjoying out the contrasts of urban and nation existence and all of the adaptations on love and kin happiness. whereas prior models have softened the powerful, and infrequently surprising, caliber of Tolstoy's writing, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have produced a translation precise to his strong voice. This award-winning team's authoritative version additionally contains an illuminating creation and explanatory notes. appealing, lively, and eminently readable, this "Anna Karenina" would be the definitive textual content for generations to return. "Pevear and Volokhonsky are right now scrupulous translators and shiny stylists of English, and their significant rendering permits us, as might be by no means prior to, to understand the palpability of Tolstoy's 'characters, acts, situations.'" (James wooden, "The New Yorker")
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To define this unusual ‘poem’ he invented the notion of a hybrid genre, midway between epic and novel, to which he gave the name ‘minor epic’. He found the novel too static a form, confined to a conventional reality, involving a set of characters who all had to be introduced at the start and all had to have some relation to the hero’s fate, and whose possible interactions were too limited for his inventive gifts. It was the form for portraying ordinary domestic life, and Gogol had no interest in ordinary domestic life.
There are arguments with the aristocracy as well as with the nihilists on the ‘woman question’ with the conservative Slavophiles as well as with the radical populists on the question of ‘going to the people’ and the exact geographical location of the Russian soul; with both landowners and peasants on questions of farm management; with advocates of old and new forms of political representation – local councils, provincial elections among the nobility – and of such judicial institutions as open courts and rural justices of the peace; with new ideas about the education of children and of peasants; with the new movements in art and music; with such recent fashions among the aristocracy as spiritualism, table-turning, pietism and non-Church mysticism, but also with the ‘official’ Church, its teachings and practices; with corrupt and ineffective bureaucrats, lawyers, capitalists foreign and domestic; with proponents of the ‘Eastern question’ and supporters of the volunteers who went to aid the Serbs and Montenegrins in their war with the Turks (Tolstoy’s handling of this last issue was so hot that his publisher refused to print the final part of the novel, and Tolstoy had to bring it out in a separate edition at his own expense).
But then she remembers she won’t be seeing Vronsky any more. It is a poignant moment. Quite unexpectedly Tolstoy makes us feel that if anything could have saved Anna it would have been her own sense of the comedy and absurdity of life, and the simple wish to share a joke with her lover. Tolstoy understood the comedy as well as he understood the sadness of things, and his great novels are full of both. John Bayley Introduction We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.