Monday, April 4, 2011

Book Review - Anna Karenina

So sorry, cousin Jacqui, but it's time once again for your favorite feature of my blog, the book review.  The only book I can review right now is Anna Karenina because it has taken me 3.5 months to read it.  Some friends of mine put out a facebook invite for a 'nonpretentious' bookclub and that the first book would be Anna Karenina.  They planned to have an amazing Russian-themed dinner party back home in Minnesota... (I thought that choosing what some think is the single best novel ever written a teensy bit pretentious, HA).  Anyway, I'm traveling and couldn't make it.  I was so jealous and sad and felt left out so I decided to participate anyways.  Then I started posting photos of myself reading the book on the beach, knowing how much snow my friends back home were getting.

I started by getting an 'email a day' from, but found myself wanting more each evening.  Then, I just happened to see a copy at Cafe Cafe, my little coffee break place and decided to buy it.  Way too much money.  $18!  Not to mention the sheer size and weight of this thing.  Bad idea for the backpack.  GOSH.  Anyways, I decided it was worth it at the time as long as I finished it before leaving Costa Rica (which I didn't) and proceeded to bring that book to the beach with me and then not read it because I was too busy beach-ing.

This book is so...zzzzzzzz...interesting...*hic*
So, my review.  I don't really feel like reviewing the book.  I'm just going to give you some tips and some favorite parts and quotes.  Sue me.


This book is long.  It's a commitment to read it.  Do it in the winter when there's nothing else going on and you have to snuggle up in front of the fireplace anyways.  I had the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.  They did a great job translating in my opinion.  I had heard others in the book group complain that their translation was crappy so it's important to get a good one.  Don't be afraid to skim entire chapters about boring old Russian politics, if you're like me and extremely uninterested.  Tolstoy was a brilliant man, and not.  The jist of it is obvious, the details, very tedious.


My favorite part is the names of some of the main characters include my name.  Que narcissistic!  AKA Stephan Ar'kady'ich. And Anna Ar'kady'evna.  I smiled every time I came across it, which was often.  And that just proves how I have no business belonging to a bookclub that would choose Anna Karenina for it's first pick. 


On gossip:
"The conversation had begun nicely, but precisely because it was much too nice, it stopped again.  They had to resort to that sure, never failing remedy - malicious gossip."

On me, in an argument:
"Sergei Ivanovich [the other person] always defeated his brother, [me] precisely because Sergei Ivanovich [the other person] had definite notions about [insert whatever subject here];...whereas Konstantin Levin [me] had no definite and unchanging notions, so that in these arguments Konstantin [me] was always caught contradicting himself."
"it most often happens that you argue hotly only because you can't understand what precisely your opponent wants to prove."

On having a crush:
"At first Anna sincerely believed that she was displeased with him for allowing himself to pursue her; but...having gone to a soiree where she thought she would meet him, and finding that he was not there, she clearly understood from the sadness which came over her that she was deceiving herself, that his pursuit not only was not unpleasant for her but constituted the entire interest of her life."

"She studied his face to make up for the time in which she had not seen him.  As at every meeting, she was bringing together her imaginary idea of him (an imcomparably better one, impossible in reality) with him as he was."

On marriage:
"'You see, it's true,' said Sergei Ivanovich.  'And from now on it's good-bye to bear hunting - your wife won't allow it!'  Levin smiled.  The idea of his wife not allowing him pleased him so much that he was ready to renounce forever the pleasure of seeing bears."

On respect:
"'Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.'"

On love:
"'...I've always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, as they are, and not as you'd like them to be.'"

Yes.  Good.  Sad.  Depressing.  Smart.  Heavy.  Literally.  Takes up too much space in backpack.  Glad to be finished.


Kelly said...

Clearly a fairy tale. A man who would be pleased his wife would tell him what he is not allowed to do. Why can't I find that man?

A Lady Reveals Nothing said...

I think because he died in 1861.

Chai Town said...

Im glad I stumbled upon your blog (Thanks to "So...what else?") & consequently this post. I never planned on reading that book & now I don't have to feel guilty about not doing so. (not that I would have anyway) If I ever find myself surrounded by the members of a non-pretentious book club as they talk about their favorite parts ... I'll simply rattle off some of your favorite quotes & consider myself as non-pretentious as they aren't!

A Lady Reveals Nothing said...

Thanks Chai Town, and the World's Stupidest Blog.

Kim said...

Not only can I not find that man, my husband has never allowed himself to be told what he cannot do, while pretending to all and sundry that I never allow him to do anything. I have the bad reputation of running my husband's life without any of the benefits of having run it!

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