Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
Anna Karénina
Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910)
Anna Karénina, a famous novel of contemporary life, by Count Leo Tolstoy (1873–76), was first published as a serial in the Russian Contemporary, an English translation appearing in 1886. The remarkable character of the book places it in the category of world-novels. Its theme—the simple one of the wife, the husband, and the lover—is treated with a marvelous perception of the laws of morality and of passion. The author depicts the effect upon a high-bred sensitive woman of the violation of the moral code, through her abandonment to passion. The character of Anna Karénina is the subject of a subtle psychological study. A Russian noblewoman, young, beautiful, and impressionable, she is married to a man much older than herself. While visiting in Moscow, in the household of her brother Prince Stepan Oblonsky, she meets Count Vronsky, a brilliant young officer. He loves her, and exercises a fascination over her which she cannot resist. The construction of the novel is intricate, involving the fortunes of many other characters; fortunes which present other aspects of the problems of love and marriage. The interest is centered, however, in Anna Karénina. No criticism can convey the powerful impression of her personality, a personality colored by the mental states through which she passes,—dawning love, blind passion, maternal tenderness, doubt, apprehension, defiance, sorrow, and finally despair. The whole of a woman’s heart is laid bare. The realism of Anna Karénina is supreme and merciless. Its fidelity to the life it depicts, its strong delineation of character, above all its masterly treatment of a theme of worldwide interest, place it among the first novels of the nineteenth century.  1

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