Sunday, February 05, 2006

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

This is a book that I hated at first, then surprisingly to me I started liking it near the end. It takes place in Russia in the 19th Century. It is over 800 pages long and I got stuck in the middle for a while.

At first I thought it was a very BROKEN BOOK. It started out as a romance novel with a few affairs. At first one of the main characters Anna, was made out to be a good person and despite having an affair she was in the right.


She eventually is exposed and tormented in her soul for what she did. She has choices to make that are hard because of the choice she made to sin. There are repercussions or cause and effect to everything in life. Her choice affected so many other people’s lives. She doesn't really realize this because I think she was selfish but the author tells the stories of all the other people too that were related to her or that somehow were touched by the domino effect.

The book becomes WHOLE and HEALING somewhere past the middle. Anna kind of goes crazy in her head because she is unhappy living in sin. She suspects her guy doesn't love her anymore, she starts taking Opium. She doesn't care for her baby, can’t see her son. She is all alone in her tormented soul and has no faith in God left.

While all this is going on the other main character is Levin. He is a rich land owner and farmer. He is interested in the peasants and the philosophies of man. He finds God in the end. He thinks about suicide but finds a higher purpose in life to live for. I liked to compare him and Anna to the main character Jean Valjean in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. They both find out for themselves how to survive and how to understand religion in their own minds and hearts. It is hard and takes a life time for some. The over all theme is that human nature makes us imperfect and selfish but it also has passion and promise if we endure to the end.

The book was extremely interesting to me because I don't know that I have ever read anything by a Russian author or about Russia. It was full of different philosophies and Christian themes, bureaucracy, government, love, death... It had stuff about the social part of Russia that I never heard about. This was before it was a communist nation I believe. The poor were really poor and the rich were ridiculously rich. I don't think it has changed much even today. I don't know. I learned for myself how naive I am about other nations and cultures. I don't know anything about Russia except they have good gymnasts and ice skaters in the Olympics.

This book is a HEALING book because it inspires me to not have an affair. (HA HA) What a mess it would be. NO really... it also makes me think about God and the purpose of life. When we are unselfish and do things because we serve God we are filled with a joy and peace. If we just do things because we have too or with a bad attitude or just to get gain for ourselves we will feel empty. We all need to find religion and comprehend it in our hearts a different way, and different time. It is for all of us but it can't be forced. Anna gave up. Levin kept going, kept searching, till he found it himself.

I would recommend this book to anyone that has a lot of time on their hands to read a long book...after you get past the first 400 pages it starts coming together and the characters all intertwine. It was the best in the last 10 or so pages for me. So read it to the end!

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