Anna Karenina is the tragic story of Countess Anna Karenina, a married noblewoman and socialite, and her affair with the affluent Count Vronsky. 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.
It was written by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in book form in 1878. Many authors consider Anna Karenina the greatest work of literature ever written and Tolstoy himself called it his first true novel. It was initially released in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger.
A complex novel in eight parts, with more than a dozen major characters, it is spread over more than 800 pages (depending on the translation), typically contained in two volumes. It deals with themes of betrayal, faith, family, marriage, Imperial Russian society, desire, and rural vs. city life. The plot centers on an extramarital affair between Anna and dashing cavalry officer Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky that scandalizes the social circles of Saint Petersburg and forces the young lovers to flee for Italy in a futile search for happiness. Returning to Russia, their lives further unravel.
Trains are a recurring motif throughout the novel, which takes place against the backdrop of rapid transformations as a result of the liberal reforms initiated by Emperor Alexander II of Russia, with several major plot points taking place either on passenger trains or at stations in Saint Petersburg or elsewhere in Russia. The novel has been adapted into various media including opera, film, television, ballet, figure skating and radio drama. The first of many film adaptations was released in 1911 but has not survived.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Count Lev Nikolayevich usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time.
Born to an aristocratic Russian family in 1828, he is best known for the novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), often cited as pinnacles of realist fiction. He first achieved literary acclaim in his twenties with his semi-autobiographical trilogy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (1852–1856), and Sevastopol Sketches (1855), based upon his experiences in the Crimean War. Tolstoy’s fiction includes dozens of short stories and several novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886), Family Happiness (1859), and Hadji Murad (1912). He also wrote plays and numerous philosophical essays.