Anna Karenina: Translated 1901 by Constance Garnett

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Take the opening sentence of Part 2, chapter 20, which is set outside St Petersburg, where the Russian army is garrisoned during the summer months. In one recent translation we read: Although literally correct, it is the figurative meaning of the Russian verb "to stand" which is clearly intended: The English-speaking world owes Constance Garnett a great debt for producing a translation of Anna Karenina which has stood the test of time and set a high benchmark for future versions.

But her remark that "Tolstoy's simple style goes straight into English without any trouble" is problematic when one remembers the thorny challenge posed by the many sentences in the book which are over words long. Then there are the clotted sentences brimming with participles, gerunds and subordinate clauses, and others with clusters of adjectives strung together like beads, not to mention Tolstoy's deliberate and unorthodox use of repetition. Tolstoy's limpid simplicity is deceptive, and his artistry of a high order, despite his apparent artlessness and eschewal of traditional rhetorical devices.

The Soviet writer Yury Olesha once noted perceptively that "Tolstoy's style is an expression of his rebellion against all norms and conventions". Take Part 6, chapter 10, where Tolstoy deliberately uses variants of the same verb chmokat to describe the sucking sound made by Levin's heel as he extracts it from the bog, and the "scape" call made by the common snipe when flushed, typically described in contemporary Russian ornithology as chvek or zhvyak. Garnett describes the sound of Levin's heel "squelching" but then talks about the "whir" of a snipe, while Louise and Aylmer Maude describe the "smacking sound" of Levin's heel and the "cry" of a snipe.

Pevear and Volokhonsky talk about the "sucking" of Levin's boot, and a snipe which "creeched", and Zinovieff and Hughes follow the "squelching" of Levin's heel with the "croak" of a snipe. Fiction in translation Fiction features. His opinion was shared by Vladimir Nabokov, who especially admired "the flawless magic of Tolstoy's style", and by William Faulkner, who described the novel as "the best ever written". The novel is currently enjoying enormous popularity, as demonstrated by a recent poll of contemporary authors by J.

A bachelor, Vronsky is willing to marry her if she would agree to leave her husband Karenin, a government official, but she is vulnerable to the pressures of Russian social norms, her own insecurities and Karenin's indecision. Although Vronsky eventually takes Anna to Europe where they can be together, they have trouble making friends. The story starts when she arrives in the midst of a family broken up by her brother's unbridled womanizing—something that prefigures her own later situation, though she would experience less tolerance by others.

A bachelor, Vronsky is eager to marry Anna if she will agree to leave her husband Count Karenin, a senior government official, but she is vulnerable to the pressures of Russian social norms, the moral laws of the Russian Orthodox Church, her own insecurities, and Karenin's indecision. Although Vronsky and Anna go to Italy, where they can be together, they have trouble making friends.

Back in Russia, she is shunned, becoming further isolated and anxious, while Vronsky pursues his social life. Despite Vronsky's reassurances, she grows increasingly possessive and paranoid about his imagined infidelity, fearing loss of control.


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Konstantin has to propose twice before Kitty accepts. The novel details Konstantin's difficulties managing his estate, his eventual marriage, and his struggle to accept the Christian faith, until the birth of his first child.

The novel explores a diverse range of topics throughout its approximately one thousand pages. Some of these topics include an evaluation of the feudal system that existed in Russia at the time—politics, not only in the Russian government but also at the level of the individual characters and families, religion, morality, gender and social class. The novel is divided into eight parts. Its epigraph is Vengeance is mine; I will repay , from Romans The novel opens with a scene that introduces Prince Stepan Arkadyevich Oblonsky "Stiva" , a Moscow aristocrat and civil servant who has been unfaithful to his wife, Princess Darya Alexandrovna "Dolly".

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Dolly has discovered his affair with the family's governess, and the household and family are in turmoil. Stiva informs the household that his married sister, Countess Anna Arkadyevna Karenina, is coming to visit from Saint Petersburg in a bid to calm the situation. Levin is a passionate, restless, but shy aristocratic landowner who, unlike his Moscow friends, chooses to live in the country on his large estate.

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Whilst at the railway station to meet Anna, Stiva bumps into Vronsky who is there to meet his mother, the Countess Vronskaya. Anna and Vronskaya have traveled and talked together in the same carriage. As the family members are reunited, and Vronsky sees Anna for the first time, a railway worker accidentally falls in front of a train and is killed. Anna interprets this as an "evil omen.

Anna is uneasy about leaving her young son, Sergei "Seryozha" , alone for the first time. At the Oblonsky home, Anna talks openly and emotionally to Dolly about Stiva's affair and convinces her that Stiva still loves her despite the infidelity. Dolly is moved by Anna's speeches and decides to forgive Stiva. Kitty, who comes to visit Dolly and Anna, is just eighteen.

In her first season as a debutante , she is expected to make an excellent match with a man of her social standing. Vronsky has been paying her considerable attention, and she expects to dance with him at a ball that evening. Kitty is very struck by Anna's beauty and personality and becomes infatuated with her just as Vronsky is.

When Levin proposes to Kitty at her home, she clumsily turns him down, believing she is in love with Vronsky and that he will propose to her, and encouraged to do so by her mother who believes Vronsky would be a better match in contrast to Kitty's father, who favors Levin. At the big ball Kitty expects to hear something definitive from Vronsky, but he dances with Anna instead, choosing her as a partner over a shocked and heartbroken Kitty.

Kitty realizes that Vronsky has fallen in love with Anna and has no intention of marrying her, despite his overt flirtations. Vronsky has regarded his interactions with Kitty merely as a source of amusement and assumes that Kitty has acted for the same reasons. Anna, shaken by her emotional and physical response to Vronsky, returns at once to St. Vronsky travels on the same train. During the overnight journey, the two meet and Vronsky confesses his love.

Anna refuses him, although she is deeply affected by his attentions to her. Levin, crushed by Kitty's refusal, returns to his estate, abandoning any hope of marriage.


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  • Anna returns to her husband, Count Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, a senior government official, and her son, Seryozha, in St. On seeing her husband for the first time since her encounter with Vronsky, Anna realizes that she finds him unattractive, though she tells herself he is a good man. The Shcherbatskys consult doctors over Kitty's health, which has been failing since Vronsky's rejection. A specialist advises that Kitty should go abroad to a health spa to recover. Dolly speaks to Kitty and understands she is suffering because of Vronsky and Levin, whom she cares for and had hurt in vain.

    Anna Karenina - Wikipedia

    Kitty, humiliated by Vronsky and tormented by her rejection of Levin, upsets her sister by referring to Stiva's infidelity, saying she could never love a man who betrayed her. Meanwhile, Stiva visits Levin on his country estate while selling a nearby plot of land. Petersburg, Anna begins to spend more time in the inner circle of Princess Elizaveta "Betsy" , a fashionable socialite and Vronsky's cousin.

    Vronsky continues to pursue Anna. Although she initially tries to reject him, she eventually succumbs to his attentions. Karenin reminds his wife of the impropriety of paying too much attention to Vronsky in public, which is becoming the subject of gossip. He is concerned about the couple's public image, although he believes that Anna is above suspicion.

    Vronsky, a keen horseman , takes part in a steeplechase event, during which he rides his mare Frou-Frou too hard—his irresponsibility causing him to fall and break his back. Anna is unable to hide her distress during the accident.

    Constance Garnett

    Before this, Anna had told Vronsky that she is pregnant with his child. Karenin is also present at the races and remarks to Anna that her behaviour is improper. Anna, in a state of extreme distress and emotion, confesses her affair to her husband. Karenin asks her to break it off to avoid further gossip, believing that their marriage will be preserved. Kitty and her mother travel to a German spa to recover from her ill health.

    There, they meet the wheelchair-bound Pietist Madame Stahl and the saintly Varenka, her adopted daughter.

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    Influenced by Varenka, Kitty becomes extremely pious, but becomes disillusioned by her father's criticism when she learns Madame Stahl is faking her illness. She then returns to Moscow. Levin continues working on his estate, a setting closely tied to his spiritual thoughts and struggles. He wrestles with the idea of falseness, wondering how he should go about ridding himself of it, and criticising what he feels is falseness in others. He develops ideas relating to agriculture , and the unique relationship between the agricultural labourer and his native land and culture.

    He comes to believe that the agricultural reforms of Europe will not work in Russia because of the unique culture and personality of the Russian peasant. When Levin visits Dolly, she attempts to understand what happened between him and Kitty and to explain Kitty's behaviour.

    New translation of Anna Karenina more in the spirit of Tolstoy

    Levin is very agitated by Dolly's talk about Kitty, and he begins to feel distant from Dolly as he perceives her loving behaviour towards her children as false. Levin resolves to forget Kitty and contemplates the possibility of marriage to a peasant woman. However, a chance sighting of Kitty in her carriage makes Levin realise he still loves her. Petersburg, Karenin refuses to separate from Anna, insisting that their relationship will continue.

    He threatens to take away Seryozha if she persists in her affair with Vronsky.

    Anna Karenina Audiobook Part 1 Chapter 1 Narrated by Wadzanai Mufunde

    When Anna and Vronsky continue seeing each other, Karenin consults with a lawyer about obtaining a divorce. During the time period, a divorce in Russia could only be requested by the innocent party in an affair and required either that the guilty party confessed—which would ruin Anna's position in society and bar her from remarrying in the Orthodox Church—or that the guilty party be discovered in the act of adultery.

    Karenin forces Anna to hand over some of Vronsky's love letters, which the lawyer deems insufficient as proof of the affair. Stiva and Dolly argue against Karenin's drive for a divorce. Karenin changes his plans after hearing that Anna is dying after the difficult birth of her daughter, Annie. At her bedside, Karenin forgives Vronsky.