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Переводы русской литературы
Translations of Russian literature


Anna Karenina (Анна Каренина) by Leo Tolstoy

Оригинал на русском языке. Anna Karenina in Russian.


Novel 'Anna Karenina' by Leo Tostoy. Translated in English by Constance Garnett.

Роман «Анна Каренина» на английском языке. Автор Л.Н. Толстой. Перевод Констанции Гарнетт.

The book was written in 1873 – 1877.

Novel 'Anna Karenina' is one of the most popular literary works in the world.

By the beginning of the 20th century, it was published in translations into the main European languages ​​and nowdays continues to be translated and filmed. Each film adaptation is always an expected event, facilitated by the participation of world movie stars. The novel has at least 24 English translations only. 

What is the book “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy about?

"Anna Karenina" is about the private life and relationships of the writer's contemporaries, people from his entourage in the second half of the 19th century. It was conceived in 1870 and started by the writer in February 1873. Lev Nikolaevich planned to finish it quickly enough, just in a few weeks. But the work captured him and resulted in several years of difficult work. The book was published in parts in the Russky Vestnik magazine. The first part was published only in 1875, in the third year of work on the book, and the last one was published in 1877. The novel as a wholework was first published in 1878. 

From the first release, the work became a great success: readers were captivated by the plot and scenes from secular life, and they were looking forward to continuing. New work by L.N. Tolstoy described the life of a whole stratum of aristocratic Russian society with which the writer was well acquainted and even acted as one of the characters — Konstantin Levin. At the same time, unlike the novel "War and Peace", which he called «a book about the past», he called "Anna Karenina" «a novel from modern life». In it, Tolstoy raised complex social and psychological issues that are close to each of his contemporaries, but not only to them: as it turned out later, these problems concern all people at all times, which made it a world bestseller and a book that is modern in any era.

When the publication got to the end, the scale of the new book became clear. As great Russian poet Afanasiy Fet wrote: «This novel is a strict, incorruptible judgment of our entire system of life». Great Russian writer Fyeodor Dostoevsky also highly appreciated it and said: «"Anna Karenina" is a perfection as a work of art... with which nothing similar from European literature in the present era can be compared». 

The book was quite bold, sharp and polemical, since it was not customary to talk about such relationships in the family publicly and frankly at that period. 

Prototypes of heroes and real events that formed the basis of the plot 

Anna Arkadyevna Karenina (Oblonskaya) is a character that combines several prototypes. She owes her appearance to Maria Alexandrovna Gartung, daughter of A.S. Pushkin — it is believed that the meeting with her in 1868 served as the initial impetus for the image of the heroine. Also, in terms of appearance and marital status, the prototype could be Alexandra Alekseevna Obolenskaya, who was married to S.M. Sukhotin. Tolstoy wanted to present «a type of woman, married, from high society, but who has lost herself. He said that his task was to make this woman only miserable and not guilty, and that as soon as this type presented itself to him, all the faces and male types that had been provided before found a place for themselves and grouped around this woman», wrote S.A. Thick. Also according to her notes, the real event on which the denouement of the novel is based was the act of Anna Pirogova, who in 1872 threw herself onto the rails under a freight train at the station near Yasnaya Polyana, where the writer lived, because of unhappy love. L.N. Tolstoy went to the railway barracks to see her. It is also known from the memoirs of Sofya Andreevna that Lev Nikolaevich began work on Karenina, having re-read A. Pushkin's "Belkin's Tales". He was also influenced by the French novels of that time, such as Stendhal's "Red and Black", the pamphlet "Man — Woman" by A. Dumas son, the works of Schopenhauer. And, of course, he put into the book through the image of Levin his experience in managing the economy and attitude to family life.

The Karenin-Anna-Vronsky triangle also has real prototypes. The first is from Lev Mechnikov's autobiographical story (signed - Leon Brandi) "A Bold Step". The second is the story of the marriage of A.K. Tolstoy on S. Bakhmeteva, to whom he dedicated the poem "Among the noisy ball ..." and who left her husband L. Miller for him. Another scandalous triangle was in the Tolstoy family: the wife of chamberlain S.M. Sukhotina M.A. Dyakova in 1868 achieved a divorce and married S.A. Ladyzhensky. His son married the daughter of L. Tolstoy, Tatyana Lvovna. In the environment of the writer and among his relatives there were other complex interweavings.

Konstantin Levin — author, Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy.

Nikolai Levin — the brother of the writer, Dmitry Nikolaevich Tolstoy.



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