After one long month, I have finally finished Anna Karenina. While it is the most cited candidate for Best Novel Ever, I find it very difficult for me to assess it. Parts of it were absolutely enthralling, such as the scene where Levin scythes grass with with the serfs; while other parts I couldn’t help but skim through. My problem was that I had two read two Parts a week and keep up with a 35 page a day minimum quota lest I fall behind. Combined with two or three other books for different classes, it made reading Anna Karenina a chore. Being a novel grand in scope and covering all the hot topics of 1870s Russia, I feel that I would have needed to read it at my own leisure to get the most out of it. Taking two lit classes has really shown me that reading literature for a course is a two edged sword. You are able to discuss the material thoroughly with your peers and a paid expert; but you need to juggle it with so much else and cannot give the books the attention the need and possibly deserve.
Because of these reasons I cannot give it a rating, though I can see why it is one of Oprah’s Favorite Books, lol. I was rather hestitant about having to read it because of its length and because of the long Slavic names that all sound the same. Actually, once you understand how Russian names work (and with the internet there’s no reason you can’t learn) it’s really not that bad and the usage of given, patronymic, and family names can actually help keep track of how everyone is related. Trust me. However, there are so many characters that it can be difficult to keep track of them all, which is usually the case with any work with loads of characters. Many readers of Tolstoy and Dostoevski keep notebooks cataloguing the full names of all the characters, fortunately the translation my class read had that provided in the index. This particular translation is highly praised. It was done by Richard Pevear and and Larissa Volokhonsky, who are a husband-and-wife team with the advantage of one being an Anglophone while the other’s first language was Russian. There work is highly praised, so if you decide to read Anna Karenina I recommend reading their version.
Hopefully someday I will be able to reread Anna Karenina when I have time to do so at my own pace. Now I really want to read War and Peace, and NOT just to say that I did.
All easy classes are alike; each challenging class is challenging in its own way.