Anna Karenina Update #2


Partly thanks to our recent trip, and kids who napped in the car, I am making good progress on Anna Karenina. I both listened and read some chapters over the last week, and I am on Chapter 21 of Part 6. According to my Kindle, I am 74% of the way through (thank goodness for the percentage indicator…I don’t think fat books would be nearly as satisfying to read on the Kindle without it).

Here’s a summary of where I am in the plot: Anna has left her husband for good, but not requested a divorce from him. She, Count Vronsky, and their baby daughter traveled all over Europe, made a stop in Petersburg where Anna secretively visited her son and publicly flaunted being a “fallen woman” at the opera, then settled at Vronsky’s family place in the country. Anna’s husband, Karenin, went from being a vindictive, bitter cuckold to a forgiving, self-sacrificing one who is trying to do the best he can by his son and keep up appearances in society. Levin successfully proposed to Kitty a second time and they have married and are now expecting a baby while living on Levin’s estate. Kitty’s sister Dolly (and Anna’s sister-in-law, as she’s married to Anna’s brother) has just traveled from the Levins to visit Anna and Vronsky.

Here are my current impressions/thoughts/questions:

  • Anna continues to amaze me with her behavior–I’m sure that’s part of the intent, and one the one hand, I can understand her frequent lack of rationality, because I am not always very rational myself. BUT, she continues to act without any regard for others, and this keeps surprising me. She was introduced as a caring and thoughtful character, but has completely departed from that. Her complete disgust for her husband, particularly after his forgiveness and treatment of her during a grave illness that followed her daughter’s birth is somewhat confusing to me. Most of all, her feelings and actions toward her two children is mystifying. She seems to love her son passionately, but abandons him to live with her lover. Meanwhile, her daughter, who she’s able to keep with her, she only seems to have a passing interest in. I would *love* to talk this character over with a literature teacher if any are forthcoming right now!
  • A fairly early chapter establishes that Vronsky has some money troubles and does not have an unlimited income. But now, he and Anna are living in luxury (plus all the traveling they did), and he’s building a hospital for the community. Where’s all the money coming from?
  • Karenin’s turn-about was touching, but I’m not sure it will last. Also, while he obviously feels responsible for his son, he doesn’t feel any affection for him (but does for the baby girl). Poor Seryozha!
  • I’m happy that Levin and Kitty seem to have a happy life, but wonder if Levin’s temperament will allow him to enjoy his position and family.

That’s all for now. I hope to finish the book before the end of June.


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