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A former member
Post #: 54
This book is really long - just read page 526 tonight - just over half way.

The Modern Library edition I am reading has a Reading Group Guide with the following questions I thought would be useful to those of us either enthralled or tortured by the excruciating detail of the novel as we feverishly read and prepare to reach the deadline of our meetup to discuss with our comrades:

When Anna Karenina,was published, critics accused Tolstoy of
writing a novel with too many characters, too complex a story
line, and too many details. Henry James called Tolstoy's works
"baggy monsters", in response Tolstoy wrote of Anna Karenina
"I'm very proud of its architecture-its vaults are joined so that
one cannot even notice where the keystone is." What do you
make of Tolstoy's use of detail? Does it make for a more "realistic"
novel?

The first line of Anna Karenina,"Happy families are all alike; every
unhappy family is unhappy in its own way", can be interpreted a
number of different ways. What do you think Tolstoy means by this?

In your opinion, how well does Tolstoy, as a male writer capture
the perspectives of his female characters? Do you think Anna
Karenina is the most appropriate title for the book? Is Tolstoy
more critical of Anna for her adultery than he is of Oblonsky or
of Vronsky?

What role does religion play in the novel? Compare Levin's spiritual
state of mind at the beginning and the end of the novel.
What parallels can you draw between Levin's search for happiness and
Anna's descent into despair?

Why is it significant that Karenin lives in St. Petersburg, Oblonsky
in Moscow and Levin in the country? How are Moscow and
St. Petersburg described by Tolstoy? What conclusions can you
draw about the value assigned to place in the novel?

What are the different kinds of love that Anna, Vronsky, Levin,
Kitty, Stiva, and Dolly seek? How do their desires change
throughout the novel?

How do the ideals of love and marriage come into conflict in
Anna Karenina? Using examples from the novel, what qualities do
you think seem to make for a successful marriage? According to
Tolstoy, is it more important to find love at all costs or to uphold
the sanctity of marriage, even if it is a loveless one?

ultimately, do you think Anna Karenina is
a tragic novel or a hopeful one?
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