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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy Pdf & Summary | 862 Pages

Anna Karenina is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in book form in 1878. Widely considered to be one of the greatest works of literature ever written, Tolstoy himself called it his first true novel.

Anna Karenina Summary

Anna Karenina is Leo Tolstoy’s portrait of Russian society in flux, combining family drama with broader political currents. Anna tries to pursue freedom and emotional fulfillment, but is held back because of her gender and Russian social and legal codes.

Levin tries to pursue the same, in an agricultural landscape where he must confront the challenges of Russia’s economy and changing social system. The novel is a portrait of happy and unhappy domesticity, gender politics, and the consequences of defying social norms.

Though Tolstoy was a defender of traditional marriage and Christianity, Anna’s dynamism as a character—and the flaws of the men in her life—result in a complex portrait of a world both familiar and alien to modern readers.

Anna Karenina opens with Part One in Moscow with the Oblonsky family in disarray as Stepan Arkadyich, the family patriarch, has recently been discovered as an adulterer having an affair with one of the family governesses.

His wife, Darya Alexandrovna (Dolly), already a mother of five children, is beside herself and contemplating separation. Stepan, or Stiva, has summoned his sister from St. Petersburg in a desperate attempt to earn Dolly’s forgiveness. Anna Arkadyevna Karenina is unhappily married to a senior official, Alexei Karenin, and has a young son, Sergei or “Serezha.”

She is beautiful and empathetic, and soon wins over Dolly’s youngest sister, Kitty. Kitty is hoping to marry the dashing officer Aleksei Vronsky, who her mother prefers above her other suitor, Stiva’s childhood friend Konstantin Levin, who traveled to Moscow from his country estate to propose to her.

Kitty rejects his proposal. Levin is socially awkward, ill at ease in the city, and feels deeply unworthy of Kitty. He discovers his younger brother Nikolai is gravely ill, having fallen out with the family over his radical political beliefs. Anna Karenina!

Vronsky is wealthy, dashing, and has few cares in the world. He does not realize Kitty’s parents would consider his conduct with Kitty improper if they knew he had no desire to marry her.

Vronsky is besotted with Anna, and the mores of his social class encourage such affairs. At a ball, Vronsky falls in love with Anna and soon forgets Kitty, much to her despair as she realizes she made a mistake in rejecting Levin. Vronsky follows Anna to St. Petersburg, hoping to pursue her.

In Part Two, Kitty Scherbatsky has become physically ill over Vronsky’s rejection, and her family quarrel over allowing the romance with Vronsky to continue. Kitty deeply regrets rejecting Levin, and cannot let go of her despair. Her family decides to send her to Europe for a rest cure. Anna Karenina!

In St. Petersburg, Vronsky is enjoying his notoriety for his pursuit of Anna, who is increasingly attached to him. Anna is anxious, knowing their affair may jeopardize her access to her son. Karenin becomes aware of the scandal and urges Anna to worry more about her social status. Anna gives in to Vronsky’s seductions, despairing of her future.

Levin returns to his country estate, contemplating the purpose of his life and the possibilities of agricultural reform and productive farming. He tries to give up his dreams of marriage. Levin is shocked to learn Kitty did not marry Vronsky, and admits to Oblonsky that he is humiliated by his failure.

Vronsky is increasingly aware that the depth of his passion for Anna is considered unseemly, especially by his mother. He prepares for a public horse race, and Anna tells him she is pregnant. His horse dies on the course, and Anna is so publicly emotional that she eventually admits to Karenin she is Vronsky’s mistress and expecting his child.

At a spa in Germany, Kitty briefly pursues a more spiritual life, inspired by the pious Madame Stahl. The woman’s ward, Varenka, urges Kitty to accept her heartbreak and move past her shame. She briefly meets Levin’s brother but does not recognize him. She soon realizes charitable acts are not effective, however, and her father tells her the older woman insincerely performs virtue. Kitty returns home, ready to pursue sincere faith. Anna Karenina!

anna karenina
anna karenina

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About the Author

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time.

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