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Anna Karenina (1877) - Leo Tolstoy

Related: Leo Tolstoy - 1875 - 1876 - 1877 - novel - 1800s literature - realism in literature - Russian literature - world literature

The first sentence of Anna Karenina is one of the best-known openings of any novel: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." --Anna Karenina.

Description

Anna Karenina is a novel by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy first published in periodical installments from 1875 to 1877 . The novel first appeared as a serial in the periodical Ruskii Vestnik ("Russian Messenger") -- but Tolstoy clashed with its editor Mikhail Katkov over issues that arose in the final installment. Therefore, the novel's first complete appearance was in book form.

Widely regarded as a pinnacle in realist fiction, Tolstoy considered this book his first true novel. The character of Anna was likely inspired, in part, by Maria Hartung (18321919), the elder daughter of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Soon after meeting her at dinner, Tolstoy started reading Pushkin's prose and once had a fleeting daydream of "a bare exquisite aristocratic elbow", which proved to be the first intimation of Anna's character.

Although most Russian critics panned the novel on its publication as a "trifling romance of high life", Fyodor Dostoevsky declared it to be "flawless as a work of art". His opinion is seconded by Vladimir Nabokov, who especially admired "the flawless magic of Tolstoy's style" and the motif of the moving train, which is subtly introduced in the first chapters (the children playing with a toy train) and inexorably developed in subsequent chapters (Anna's nightmare), thus heralding the novel's majestic finale. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna Karenina [Aug 2006]

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