This novel is driven by the dominant themes of love, passion, loyalty, happiness, and marriage, and is considered by some to be the greatest love story ever written.
First published in serial form from 1873 to 1877, Anna Karenina created quite a stir in Russian society. The overall reaction was positive and passionate, and with the novel being published right after Tolstoy's magnus opus, War and Peace, it officially confirmed his reputation as one of Russia's most important writers.
Two plots run side by side in Anna Karenina. The first is that of Levin, a landowner and country man who comes to the city to propose to the pretty young lady, Kitty. Kitty however, has her sights set on Count Vronsky. The story of Levin stands as an expression of Tolstoy's pastoral nature, as well as a reaffirmation of the novelist's vision of the simple life. Kitty's rejection of his proposal drives Levin to turn to the land, where the beauty of the seasons and the pragmatic work of harvesting absorbs him. At the same time, Tolstoy draws a contrast between Levin's relationship to the land, and the story of Anna and her enigmatic and destructive passions. Anna Karenina has everything anyone could ever wish for - beauty, wealth, social position, a husband, and an adored son - yet her existence still seems empty. When she meets the dashing officer Count Vronsky, everything changes for her, as she falls head over heals in love. Anna rejects her marriage to pursue her affair with the Count, but her sudden pregnancy leads to a series of devastating events.
Throughout the book, Anna and Levin's plotlines connect from time to time, but only near the end of the book does Tolstoy actually allow a brief encounter between the two. For a fleeting moment, Levin is swept into Anna's world, illustrating to the reader how dangerous a character like Anna can be. Various themes are covered within these pages: hypocrisy, jealousy, faith, fidelity, family, marriage, society and passion....
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