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Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina is a novel by Leo Tolstoy, published in 1877 through 1878, set against the background of contemporary Russian society. Its theme is the institution of marriage and its relation to society and morality.

The novel initially appeared serially in the periodical Ruskii Vestnik ("Russian Messenger"), but Tolstoy clashed with its editor Mikhail Katkov over issues that arose in the final installment. Consequently, the novel's first complete appearance was in book form.

Table of contents
1 Synopsis
2 External Links
3 See also


Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers.

The novel is in eight parts. Part 1 introduces Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch Oblonsky ("Stiva"), a civil servant who has been unfaithful to his wife Darya Alexandrovna ("Dolly"). Anna Karenina, Stepan's sister, persuades Dolly not to leave him. Meanwhile, Stepan's childhood friend Konstantin Dmitrievitch Levin ("Kostya"), a farmer, arrives in Moscow to offer marriage to Dolly's sister Katerina Shtcherbatsky. "Kitty" turns him down, as she is expecting an offer from army officer Count Alexey Kirillovitch Vronsky. Vronsky has no intention of marrying, however, and falls in love with Anna after meeting her at the Petersburg railway station. There a man commits suicide by jumping in front of a train. Levin returns to his farm, abandoning any hope of marriage; and Anna returns to her husband Alexey Alexandrovitch Karenin, a politician, and their son Seryozha in Petersburg.

In part 2, Karenin scolds Anna for talking too much with Vronsky, but she returns Vronsky's affections nonetheless, and becomes pregnant with his child. Anna's anguish when Vronsky falls from a racehorse makes her feelings obvious, prompting her to confess to her husband. Meanwhile the heartbroken Kitty and her mother travel to a German spring, where Kitty becomes friends with Mademoiselle Varenka.

Part 3 examines the life and labor of Konstantin Levin's farm, beginning with a visit from his half-brother, Sergey Ivanovich Koznishev, and ending with a visit from Konstantin's consumptive elder brother Nikolay Dmitrievitch Levin. Dolly also meets Konstantin, and attempts to revive his feelings for Kitty. Dolly seems to be unsuccessful, but a chance sighting of Kitty makes Levin realize he still loves her. Back in Petersburg, Alexey Andreyovich exasperates Anna by maintaining the status quo and threatening Anna with the loss of Seryozha if she leaves or misbehaves.

By part 4, however, Karenin is also finding the situation intolerable and begins seeking divorce. Stepan argues against it, and persuades Karenin to speak with Dolly first. Again, Dolly seems to be unsuccessful, but Karenin shelves his plans after hearing from Anna that she is dying in childbirth. At her bedside, Karenin forgives Vronsky; a remorseful Vronsky attempts suicide. However, Anna recovers, and Stepan finds himself pleading on her behalf for Karenin to divorce. Vronsky plans to flee to Tashkent, but changes his mind after meeting Anna, and they leave for Europe without obtaining a divorce after all. Much more straightforward is Oblonsky's matchmaking with Levin: a meeting Stepan arranges between Levin and Kitty results in their reconciliation and betrothal.

In part 5, Levin and Kitty marry. A few months later, Nikolay's mistress Marya Nikolaevna writes to tell Levin that Nikolay is dying. The couple go to Nikolay, and Kitty nurses him until he dies, while also discovering she is pregnant. In Europe, Vronsky and Anna struggle to find friends who will accept them and activities that will amuse them, and eventually they return to Russia. Karenin is comforted and supported by Countess Lidia Ivanovna, who counsels him to keep Anna away from Seryozha. However, Anna manages to visit Seryozha unannounced on his birthday. After Anna is humiliated amongst Petersburg society, she and Vronsky leave for the country.

Part 6 opens with Dolly, Varenka, Sergey Ivanovich, and Kitty's mother all staying with Kitty and Konstantin. Sergey almost offers marriage to Varenka, changing his mind at the last minute. Dolly leaves to visit Anna, and at Vronsky's request, she asks Anna to resume seeking a divorce from Karenin. Yet again, Dolly seems unsuccessful; but when Vronsky leaves for several days of provincial elections, a combination of boredom and suspicion convinces Anna she must marry Vronsky. So she writes to Karenin, and leaves with Vronsky for Moscow.

In part 7, the Levins are in Moscow for Kitty's benefit as she gives birth to a son, Mitya. Stepan, while seeking Karenin's commendation for a new job, again asks him to grant Anna a divorce; but Karenin's decisions are now governed by self-proclaimed clairvoyant Jules Landau ("Count Bezzubov"), who apparently declines. Anna and Vronsky are increasingly bitter towards each other. They plan to return to the country, but in a jealous rage Anna leaves early, and -- in a parallel to part 1 -- commits suicide by throwing herself in the path of a train. (Tolstoy reportedly was inspired to write Anna Karenina by reading a newspaper report of such a death.)

Somewhat incongruously, part 8 continues the story after Anna's death. Sergey Ivanovich publishes a book, which is ignored. Stepan gets the job he wanted. Karenin takes custody of Annie. Some Russian volunteers, including Vronsky, leave to help Servia defend itself from the Turks (see also History of Serbia, 1877). And in the joys and fears of fatherhood, Konstantin Levin at last develops faith in the Christian God.

External Links

See also