Written by Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina is one of the greatest books in universal literature. Even now, 132 years after the Russian author wrote it, many critics consider it the best fiction novel of all times.
But what makes Anna Karenina so special? The fact that it transcends the time barrier and it is relevant even for modern times. The plot, the characters and the themes are all bounded together in a book so realistic and complex that you will surely fall in love with reading it.
The story is supposed to be inspired by an episode when Leo Tolstoy arrived at a railway station after a woman, the mistress of a neighboring landowner, killed herself. The motto of this book is one of its most famous quotes: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”.
The action takes place in late nineteenth century, in Russia. The main character is Anna Karenina, a young woman stuck in an unhappy marriage with Karenin, but founds true and passionate love in the arms of his lover, Count Vronsky. In her adulterous relationship with Vronsky, Anna discovers that she cannot control her passions, so she defies the rules of the society and ends up paying the ultimate price.
After her husband finds out about the love affair, he does not accept the divorce and prohibits Anna to see their son. Torn apart by her passions, Anna finally commits suicide.
There are several interrelated plot lines that create a complex labyrinth. For example, another story of the book regards the conjugal love match between Kitty and Levin, emphasizing in fact Anna`s tragic affair. With all its interconnections, the plot tragically unfolds itself to reach its ultimate purpose.
Themes and style
Tolstoy focuses especially on nineteenth century social issues mainly regarding marriage, class and relationships. A large variety of themes are explored in the novel: fidelity, family, jealousy, hypocrisy, society, marriage, carnal desire and passion.
The value of this book also comes from Tolstoy`s incredible ability to build complex and nuanced characters philosophically portrayed in opposition to other characters of the book.
Because of the attention to details and plot complexity, Anna Karenina is the pinnacle of fiction, a work of art that constitutes a perpetual source of inspiration.