Anna Karenina is a novel by the prominent Russian author Leo Tolstoy. It was published in serial installments between 1873 and 1877. Tolstoy himself claimed that Anna Karenina was his first novel. Despite criticism that the novel was indeed two separate novels, there was much acclaim. Fellow Russian author Dostoevsky hailed it as “a flawless work of art” (En8848.com.cn).
Despite the criticism that Anna Karenina is actually two novels, Tolstoy insisted that it is one novel. Although certain characters hardly ever interact, they are still aware of each other and one’s actions have even the smallest influence on the other.
The Oblonsky family of Moscow is under a large amount of stress due to adultery. Dolly Oblonskaya has found out her husband, Stiva, is having an affair with their children’s former governess, and seriously considers divorcing him. Stiva is slightly regretful, but is none the less trying to maintain his composure. Stiva’s sister Anna Karenina arrives at the Oblonsky estate to act as a mediator.
While all this is going on, Dolly’s younger sister, Kitty, is in the process of being courted by two potential suitors: Levin, an awkward landowner, and Alexei Vronsky, a dashing military officer. Kitty ends up opting for the good life and turns down Levin in favor of Vronsky. Shortly afterwards Vronsky meets Anna and becomes infatuated with Anna instead of Kitty. This devastates Kitty, who promptly falls ill. Levin, who becomes depressed after Kitty denies his advances, retires to his country estate. Anna too finds herself to possibly love Vronsky, but after some deep thought, she disregards this as nothing more than a crush.
Unbeknownst to Anna, Vronsky has followed her, and their mutual feelings intensify. Anna starts to spend time with Vronsky’s cousin Betsy Tverskaya. At a party, Anna implores Vronsky to ask Kitty’s forgiveness for turning towards Anna. Instead, Vronsky tells Anna that he loves her. Karenin, Anna’s husband, end up leaving by himself, all the while thinking something is amiss. He confronts Anna when she returns to their house later that night about her and Vronsky. Anna denies that there is any sort of un-professional relationship between herself and Vronsky. Karenin is content with her story, but still remains slightly suspicious.
Later on in the novel, Vronsky participates in a horse race with other military figures. In the process of making a jump, Vronsky accidentally breaks his horses back, causing it to have to be put down. Karenin is observant of his wife’s heavy interest in Vronsky and his progress throughout the race. Karenin confronts Anna afterward, and she breaks down and admits to her husband that she and Vronsky are having an affair. Suffice to say, Karenin is slightly taken aback by the news.
Kitty, as she is still very ill, attempts to recuperate at a German spa she visits. She meets a fellow Russian woman and her protégée, Varenka. Kitty also makes the acquaintance of Levin’s ailing brother...