Davina Porter's performance of Tolstoy's dauntingly long and involved world classic makes one feel grateful not to have to make this difficult literary journey alone. Porter's voice is pleasant, expressive and versatile; her Russian pronunciations impressive; and her understanding of the work excellent. In an unhurried and confident fashion, Porter reveals the twisting social and personal tensions that ensnare a very mortal married woman who falls into illicit love. Porter's interpretation gives a warmth and consistency to this demanding novel which silent readers would be hard-pressed to approach, let alone duplicate. This is an outstanding example of performance literature.
This is the story of the unhappy family of Anna Karenina. The novel contains much concerning Tolstoy's spiritual crisis and his search for the meaning of life. But it is also chiefly about marriage, and the growth and death of love.
The touching picture of Anna Aarkadyevna Karenina's slow disintegration has fascinated readers for well over a century. Beautiful and charming, Anna lives in a splendid world of her own making. She smokes, rides horseback, plays tennis, takes opium, practices birth control, and (although she is already married) falls in love with a handsome army officer.
Anna's life is played out against a backdrop of dazzling balls and the vastness of Russia's landscape. It is a magnificent story that shimmers with the intensity of intelligence and passion, especially through this superb narration by Davina Porter.
(P)1990 by Recorded Books, LLC; First published in 1878.
"Porter reads magnificently." (Los Angeles Times)
This was my first audiobook from Audible. I chose it because I wanted to reread Anna Karenina -- it is a favorite of mine. Hearing it aloud reminded me that until the last century these great novels were meant to be told and read aloud. The capable narration and dramatic interpretation of Davina Porter made it much easier to keep track of the unfamiliar names and story lines and brought each main character to life. As for the story itself, it was one of my favorites and is now even more so with hearing of it and the new insights I got this time around.
This is an excellent translation read with wonderful, evocative expression by Davina Porter. After some searching I found the text version from Random House/Modern Library Paperback translated by Constance Garnett AND Leonard Kent AND Nina Berberova. There is an original translation by Constance Garnett alone but that is different. I like to be able to refer to a hardcopy text of my audiobook, and it's nice if the translations actually match up. The reader really brings alive this outstanding novel.
This book is a classic and read very well by the narrator. Having no idea what the story was about when I decided to get this book, I was in for a huge surprise. This book is an excellent narrative on a variety of male-female relationships that all demonstrate some type of domestic abuse. The heroines are looking for a truly love filled life and find themselves in varying degrees of despair due to their beloved men becoming controlling, cheating, manipulative, or even vindictive husbands. This story is not for the faint hearted or for those who like to read about romance.
I used the audible version to help me read through the actual text version, and found it very helpful. It's such a big book, it can be intimidating. I'm planning on doing the same with Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'. The problem with Russian literature (very generally speaking, and for me at least) is that the names are a little tricky, and it can be hard to keep track of them (let alone pronounce them!). So having it read to you is vastly helpful. The characters still resonate through my mind. Anna is such a tragic heroine (if you choose to categorize her as 'heroine'). She reminds me of Emma Bovary (of 'Madame Bovary').
Sometimes I simply listened, sometimes I read along. Although sound quality is not the greatest, I found it enjoyable listening and would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Russian literature.
I am a book junkie. Read to me.
This novel is a remarkable achievement. It is like looking at an intricately pieced quilt, one in which every thread has been braided by hand and dipped in liquid gold. Rarely have I read a novel in which even minor characters have rich, fully realized pasts and deep interior lives. The story is long, but Tolstoy is not wasteful with words. Every sentence tells. The narrator is lively, with a pleasant, soothing voice. I worried whether I would be able to stick with five 7-plus-hour takes, but I was sorry to see it end.
Poet, Writer, Novice Planetary Scientist, Musician, Hooligan, Former Audience Guy, Protector of Stupid Princesses.
Of all the Russian literature I have listened to in audio form, this was by far the best experience. I don't really know what the narrator did differently here, but the rhetorical digressions flowed with the story well enough that I rarely noticed them. It may just be Tolstoy's skill, but bravo to Divina Porter for many hours of entertainment. I enjoyed the story, the ideas, and the characters very much. If you have to choose between this novel and War and Peace, although they are both excellent, choose this one.
Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan.
Although I always yearn to listen to Russian novels due to fond memories of reading them many years ago, I have been discouraged from trying an audio version because the length means I will be reading the same book for a whole month now that I have so little free time to read compared to when I was a student.
I bought this Davina Porter audio YEARS ago and could never face so much time with one book. For some reason I recently decided I was 'in the mood'. I listened to a sample, dreading the thought of buying yet ANOTHER version (I mistakenly bought two different versions in 2004) to get good sound. What a nice surprise! The recording is as good as anything being recorded today, and despite being a really picky listener I have no complaints at all.
On the contrary, 'Anna Karenina' contains long disquisitions on political and agrarian economy which are very demanding of a wonderful narrator and are well served by Davina Porter. Her expression is always lively, her emotion appropriate and her pronunciation is perfect. She uses different intonations for different characters for variety, but not different voices - her rhythm is wonderful, and her accents in French for example, are very comprehensible. There are so many Russian and French and German names that this book could be a disaster for an unskilled reader, but everything she says is comprehensible and beautifully pronounced - even when it isn't actually the way a native would speak. You never lose the meaning of the text which is incredibly important in such a long book with so many foreign words.
For readers/listeners with the time to devote to a classic Russian tome, this is a wonderful recording.
I really enjoyed this book. While the unabridged version is long and a bit wordy at times, I can't imagine the abridged version could possibly do justice to the complexed stories and character development. If you enjoy light, airy stories that get to the point quickly, this is not the book for you. If you like to really get into the characters, enjoy a developing story and just love to sit back and listen, this is a perfect choice.
This is one of my favorite books, I love the characters and the story is so sad and wonderful at the same time. It is well-read and I recommend it for repeat readers of Anna Karenina or first-timers. It is well worth the time investment.
It's easy to condemn Anna, especially since she's always being compared to Levin. The whole structure off the book is Tolstoy's attempt to show how different these two people are. And while Levin is, as Anna's husband would turn the phrase "beyond reproach", what are we to make of Anna? Was she a bad person? Was she evil?
For me, Anna truly lived. Unlike Levin who suffered doubts about everything under the sun, she was led by her passions. Her eyes would half close when confronted with some harsh reality or other while Levin instantly become introspective and longed to do the right thing for the right reasons.
But who had more fun in life? Levin almost missed his opportunity to find live with Kitty (or any other woman for that matter) and even when they were married, as as he was, he was repulsed by the birth of his child; he had to grow to love that pink, wriggling thing. He never seemed to have any convictions about anything and those that he did have seemed to surprise him and never were what he expected them to be like. Nothing was what he expected it to be life be it the symphony, politics and political theory, city life - he was always uncomfortable.
Yet Anna just rushed into every experience and dealt with the fallout later. She knew who she was and even more who she wasn't. She was't tormented by the inner-demons of Levin, she only had to deal with the demons of society instead, and all of them were petty people anyway.
In the final scenes of the novel, Levin has taken up beekeeping and I couldn't help but thinking that Tolstoy was using this activity to show how bees can either sting you or make you honey. Levin got the honey, but he had to wait for it whereas Anna got stung, but that's because she had stolen some honey already. She was like the kids cooking berries over the candles and squirting milk into each others mouths; she lived for that pleasure now and didn't even care to question if the pleasures would continue. She would deal with the terrible sting later.
And she did, too.
But I don't think she was any better or worse than Levin. She merely sought her rewards in life immediately whereas Levin discovered he could have them after death.
Yet they both had one thing in common: they didn't put much stock in reason. For her she was impulsive and for him he put aside intellect to explain life and the universe. The both found meaning in the spiritual.
And I don't want to hang morality on either character because who is to say who really lived life better? True, Anna hurt everyone she ever met, but she lived for herself and if this life is the only life we have then I think she had the right idea. But if you believe there is a life after this one then Levin might have the right idea.
But who is to say is right? Or better?
It's a wonderful question to ask, and this novel presents this dilemma brilliantly.
I loved this book and everyone in it.
"The Greatest Novel Ever Written ?"
Tolstoy creates a world of complex characters whom one gets to know and understand and with whom one develops great empathy as the events unfold. The analysis of chatacters' motivation is supreme as Tolstoy demonstates enormous insights into the dilemmas they face as they seek happiness and meaning in their lives. Some fail, some achieve a measure of success, some deceive themselves, some aim low, some aim high.
This book is deeply moving because of its sympathy with humanity.
It is so well written that you cannot put it down but it demands time and concentration.
It is the greatest novel that I have ever read.
If you read only one novel in your life, read Anna Karenina!
Davina Porter judges her reading beautifully
"What a treat!"
I first read this many years ago, at the age of 19, and was probably too young for it. I was only interested in what I saw as the high romance of Anna's love affair, and am ashamed to say I skipped most of Levin's philosophising, which I dismissed as boring. The good thing about an audio book is that it's difficult to skip bits, so you listen to it all - and I loved all 36-plus hours of it! This time round, I realised that Anna was silly, thoughtless and selfish, and found myself much more interested in Levin's story: yes, all the details about agriculture and local politics that I'd found so tedious before. It was beautifully read, too.
Nice to think that at last I am old enough for Tolstoy!
"Who can resist?"
Who can resist Tolstoy? From his famous opening sentence, he sweeps us into a world, different from our own, but full of human beings that we recognise immediately. They grapple with the complexities of their own lives. they talk to themseves, kick themselves mentally, delude themselves and swing from optimism to pessimism in ways that engage our sympathies at once.
The energy of Tolstoy's writing is amazing. In the first day of the story, all the main characters (except Anna) appear.They are new to us, but they seem to have been living their lives long before we meet them. Oblonsky, his wife Dolly, her sister Kitty, friend Levin and stranger Vronsky, are all at turning points in their lives. Oblonsky grapples with his wife's knowledge of his infidelity,Dolly contemplates leaving her husband, Levin proposes, Kitty rejects him and Vronsky pursues Kitty. Anna arrives on the next day, to be a catalyst in all their stories and to be compelled towards her own destruction.
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