Being summer, albeit near-Indian summer this time, I’ve made a practice of pulling out a major volume to read within the afternoon’s refrigerated inside air. This year I’m digging into a new edition of Leo Tolstoy’s second major work, Anna Karenina, by my fave translators, Volokhonsky and Pevear.
The book was serialized over some three years in Russian publications during the 1870s, and it caused as much of a stir as some of Dickens’ serialized work. Had Tolstoy written it within today’s genres and with today’s sensibilities, it would be publicized as a daring Russian literary novel of history, family, and personal failure – something similar to Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Not surprisingly, it was considered a grandiose romance work by wags of Tolstoy’s time. (Remember, writers, once you have a bit of success, someone will come along to throw rocks at you – often in the form of some demeaning categorization or other.)
But where Madame Bovary (publ. 1856) focused almost exclusively on that woman's assets and emotional nature, Anna Karenina (publ. 1877) is much more.
Since it’ll take a while to read Anna Karenina, I plan to blog on it, much as it probably appeared in the Russian publications of that day. That means: there are eight sections to the novel, and I’ll report back on the story, my general impressions of Tolstoy and his work here some eight times.
So stretch out, kick back and enjoy it with me.