Reviews: Anna Karenina

An perceptively accurate mess

Ultimately Anna Karenina is about the lack of control we have over our lives and our reason. We rationalise our views and positions and actions but they're never as logical as we think and almost always tend to suit what we want or expect from our immediate lives and environment. People get great ideas and are certain that they've found the answer to what they were doing wrong and everythings going to be different from now on and then a few pages later they're back where they were realising it was a terrible idea. People can only show concern and feeling to those immediately around them and even those affections are constantly in flux and discord, the people who intellectually try to care about others are being dishonest with themselves and it always ends up as a self-serving facade. The philosophers who speak for the 'people' yet never meet those people, the religious who turn away from the good in their lives because they've learned you have to be cruel to be kind.

And finally Tolstoy notes that whenever someone thinks about their life it can be hard to find purpose and justification for their actions, but when they're not thinking and actively live that life it never seems to be a problem. He concludes that our emotional desire has given to us (and been given to us by God) an innate understanding of what we need to do that is beyond comprehension.

But Anna Karenina doesn't even convey that in a cogent way. There are 750 pages of examples (including one chapter that quickly introduces a climax for out title character, and then is barely mentioned after) and in the last 50 he introduces a whole new problem for the author-insert and states his conclusion, not much less bluntly than I did.

There's no story here. Because the themes are about falseness and lack of control, the characters aren't in control and their emotional states mean nothing. They go places and feel things and then they don't feel things and then they feel them again and then it ends. He states 'they were happy for 3 months' and then describes them being unhappy. I managed to complete miss where Vronsky got his money from.

But I don't think Tolstoy minds, the only character to be portrayed as good and happy spouts suspiciously similar views to Tolstoy and says true artists exactly represent life. With his lack of cohesion, story or rationale, he succeeded.