Anna Karenina seems to have everything - beauty, wealth, popularity and an adored son. But she feels that her life is empty until the moment she encounters the impetuous officer Count Vronsky.
Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.
©1994 BBC Audiobooks Ltd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
The narrator has a wonderful set of voices. A very good production all together. And a great number of intertwined stories with complex characters.
I was new last Fall to this Tolstoy masterpiece when I read it and listened in part. I came to it skeptical, under the mistaken impression that it was simply about Anna Karenina, her terminal love affair and her despicable selfishness toward her son and everyone else in the end. I thought "Anna K" was simply a story of this lady showing the tragic consequences of self-centeredness and the lack of any moral compass.
I was mistaken; the foregoing is only part of the story and should only be viewed in the context of the novel's three (or four) other relationships to appreciate the beauty of this Tolstoy masterwork.
Both the Russian Giants (Leo and Dostoevsky) play consistently the themes of man/woman's relationship to and with God and with spouse, the internal struggles of faith versus doubt and monogamy and morality versus free will, as well as the ongoing, infinite war between good and evil with all the skirmishes on the fringe.
These themes are arguably no where more dramatically displayed for study, contemplation and interpretation for all time by scholars, thinkers and, most importantly, lovers of literature in a quite timeless story of tragedy and relationships among and between:
Anna K in her tragic affair with the younger Count Vronsky
Her relationship with the controlling, but cuckolded husband Karenin and his capacity (or not) to move on and be a father to their son;
the steady, thinking farmer Levin and his courtship of and marriage to young, gorgeous and shallow Kitty who was once infatuated with Vronsky; and,
the unsteady, unfaithful social-hound Stiva Oblonsky (Anna's brother) and his loyal wife Dolly (Kitty's sister), the exemplary and unappreciated mother of his children, who catches herself daydreaming and fantasizing of what it may be like to have a torrid, short-term affair of body and soul.
Over this rocky terrain, Tolstoy fashioned an extraordinary and unforgettable mindtrip through the passions of humanity. YOUR destination should be some measure of SELF-revelation. Probably, it's varies from mine, maybe even antithetical. That is Tolstoy's point: a narrative to make you think and feel.
I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Ah, these were the days of meandering, philosophical ruminations, when not every paragraph had to advance the plot. . . . Tolstoy's novel is sheer brilliance, with complex, neurotic protagonists who drive themselves and each other crazy. The sanest characters are the peasants and the women, except for Anna, of course.
Tolstoy does a beautiful job of portraying life in Russia at that time--the politics, religion, society, families . . . what doesn't he talk about?!
The British narrator is wonderfully talented except for one odd kick in his gallop. When he reads the dialogue for peasants, he gives them a Cockney accent, and the kindly Russian Orthodox priest sounds Irish. I'm not kidding.
A seeker of wisdom, a theorist of husbandry, a traveler of distant lands - a bit eclectic...
1) A penetrating analysis of human nature
2) A heartfelt search for the true meaning of life
3) A beautifully written story that evokes the full spectrum of one's emotions
4) An incredible performance by David Horovitch
5) One of the rare audiobooks I plan to listen to again, and perhaps again
Reason and observation, says the wise Qoheleth of old, compels one to admit that there is no enduring satisfaction under the sun. The whole of natural life per se, he proceeds to elaborate, offers only an enticing, and often very believable, mirage, viz., that some cause or some ambition or some ideal state, will somehow attain some lasting value, will somehow provide complete and enduring fulfillment. Upon recognition, one often finds this a rather repulsive and untimely sense of reality, and thus one finds it more convenient to suspend belief in the said recognition in order that life may find have some significance; others may even try to come to grips with the implications. For the latter there is a shocking, seemingly contradictory, discovery: a desire for the ideal state in spite of it having no ultimate point.
Rarely have I found a more penetrating, painful, but liberating exposition of this idea of the ‘vanity of life’ than in Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”. Mr. Tolstoy’s genius is displayed as he eloquently guides his readers through the exhilarating emotional heights experienced in the passionate pursuit of the ideal state, and, then, to the slow, terrible recognition of it all - futility. So intense is the description that one is made to almost believe that it is one’s own inner self being so vividly exposed to the delusion of a heretofore satisfactory and delightful sense of purpose. There is no escape: one must mentally relive the joy and the horror of it to the bitter end. Yet, through it all there is Konstantin Levin, whose views shall likely never be in vogue with society, but nevertheless finally begins to see a way out of the madness of vanity.
David Horovitch's narration is built of the rare stuff that carries one directly into the very time and place - a captivating and exciting world of 'real life' characters. Simply put, its some of the best reading I've heard...
After two really poor books I reverted to the classics – and it was good. Tolstoy is a great writer – even in translation his mastery of language, imagery and characterisation is unquestionable. The book really does not seem long – there is a pace and drive about the narrative. Quite simply, it is a picture of late 19th century Russian nobility and the social pressures brought to bear on individuals when they dare to act in favour of their hearts instead of convention. We witness the progressive mental decline of Anna as opium, guilt and societal pressure corrode her consciousness. There are also fascinating sub-plots which reveal the growing sense of discomfort that some landowner felt about the exploitation of the peasants. There are also some tedious passages about the rural land management mechanisms but generally it is clearly an outstanding piece of literature. The narrator, David Horovitch, is the best narrator I have ever heard on audio. He brings out the subtleties of the text and bring the characters to life - a superb actor.
I (very thankfully) bought this after giving up on Lorna Raver's impossibly bad reading. Horovitch is masterful in every way, and even has enough linguistic ability to pull off the French passages quite well. (He is less successful in German but thankfully very little of that in the book so nothing lost there.)
Most impressive is his ability to invent, and maintain, distinct voices and accents for an incredibly wide variety of characters.
I cannot imagine finding a better reading than this one, and I will never be looking for one. Unequivocally recommended.
The combination of Tolstoy's high definition rendering of his character's complex hearts and minds with the virtuosity of this narrator's gifts results in a rare audiobook experience here. Hold on to your hat and prepare yourself for a real donkey kick of an ending. This is a classic for a reason. It is a masterpiece.
The plot was engaging and there were many complex characters. I appreciated the fact that it was written through the eyes of many individuals, rather than through the eyes of Anna Karenina alone.
Tolstoy had an honest, very realistic way of painting the romances in the books. The scenes were both relatable and exciting. Interestingly enough, there were no true villains. With each character, I found myself switching between pity, aversion and admiration.
Unfortunately, I disliked the narrator. Unlike Tolstoy he pushed re-enactments to such an extreme that they often sounded childish and always sounded overdone. The way in which he tried to narrate the thoughts of the characters was consistently awkward. His voice would get so low it was almost inaudible, I would attempt to turn up the volume to interpret his whispers and then be blasted with loud volume when he returned to normal speech. It was frustrating. I would not want to listen to another book that he has narrated.
I was disappointed by the ending. I believe the quality of the story line dwindled towards the end. It may have been drawn out longer than it needed to be.
The individual reading has a tendency to whisper. This makes it very hard to hear when there is an internal monologue. The volume fluctuation is terribly distracting and creates a difficult listening environment.
David Horovitch's reading of Anna Karenina is excellent and one of the best audiobooks to which I have ever listened.
Horovitch captures the principal character's personalities with precision and brings depth to their respective positions and roles in the story.
I was apprehensive about listening to anyone read a lengthy Russian novel, but Horovitch did a brilliant job. His narration was never grating, and he did a brilliant job with both the dialogue and the descriptive portions of the novel.
Hope and Tragedy
"Tragic, beautiful, politically interesting..."
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" - memorable start to Anna Karenina.
Listening to Anna Karenina was a serious commitment - evidence that audiobooks have captured me! I can now read (listen to) the books I've previously glossed over because making THAT time commitment competes with too many other reading tasks. Listening can be done in so many other places and at so many other times...
Anna Karenina is far more serious a contribution than the enjoyable, beautifully staged and highly stylised film.
The book is beautifully written, insightful and analytic of class, gender, and political economy. A tragic long drawn out story with numerous side issues and debates concerning love, desire, faith, bureaucracy, agrarian reform, philosophy, redolent of the time. Terrific narration.
Wonderful experience requiring a degree of persistence and stamina (nearly 40 hours!) but well worth it!
"Anna Karenina yet again"
I've read this book several times over the years, but listening to the Audible version over the last few weeks has really brought it to life again. The tragedy and inevitability of the story still has the power to haunt, I haven't seen the new film version yet, but that will be on the to-do list having refreshed the story for myself with the audio version.
As a huge Tolstoy fan, I've found it hard listening to the audio books as there's never something quite rite to me about how they're narrated. However David Horovitch is simply brilliant! ...the emotion and tones in his voice fits perfectly every time and is never dry. I never thought I would say I don't just have a favourite author but a favourite Narrator to!
"The grass is not always greener!"
Took me a long time to listen to this, I could have done without the lectures, but I have read from a reviewer elsewhere that he appreciated these more later in life. Story was good, although I can't believe that such an intelligent woman could let herself end up in such a predicament, the grass is not always greener. I suppose boring lives do not make for great fiction. A classic read, especially since a new movie version is being made. The narrator did a stellar job, it would also be interesting to hear this read by a female narrator a good listen...
"An astonishing book"
It's a long listen but well worth the effort. The narrator is the best I've come across and he characterises all people uniquely.
A very interesting and informative account of the lives of people who are on the edge of reform both socially and politically.
I read the book years ago and doubt I read every word yet I listened to it all. I was surprised by the author's insight into the emotions of both the male and female characters and the way he handled the social and philosophical political and religious questions of that society. Its relevance to today also struck me. The narrator was superb.
Mainly read in English, but some French parts too. I found this annoying seeing as I don't understand French.
I really enjoyed listening to this book. I had never got beyond the first few pages of the written book but knew it was a story I would enjoy I find it is impossible to compare audiobooks as my choice is fairly eclectic.
There were many memorable scenes in the book and I found all of them essential to the whole.
I thought the narrator was very good and differentiated well between the different characters.
No it is much too long and also there is so much happening. I really looked forward to listening to it every day
Audible has really helped me to expand my choice of books because I can listen at times when it is not possible to read a book even on Kindle (although I still read every day).
"An honest portrayal of emotions, deliciously read."
Absolutely. I remeber trying to read Anna Karenina on a plane and buckling under the pressure of such an impressively large volume. I particularly reccommend this for students that have been put off reading due to the sheer amount of words they stare at every day during study or revision.
I wouldn't say I have a favourite but I couldn't help rooting for Levin.
No but you can tell he enjoys reading this. He gets really into it and brings much humanity to his reading.
It made me feel all the feels. Happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety, pity, nervousness(?) (if that's even an emotion) etc.
Perfect to listen to whilst going for a walk, on commute, having a bath or doing dull lab work.
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