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)2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
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.
Near the top. I would rank it within my top 5.
The story takes you on a voyage of multiple emotions. The character development is grand.
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.
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...
I have never come across David Horovitch as a narrator before but he is a master. I have always felt the Ian McKellen's Odysseus set the gold standard in audiobook renderings but with the range and wide variety of characters required for Anna Karenina I would have to rate David Horovitch higher.
More by Mr Horovitch please - anything, everything but especially War and Peace!
Tolstoy's genius with character development is not to be missed. These characters are real and recognizable.
This book isn't narrated, it's heavily performed. Crying, whispering, huge swings in mood, tempo and emotion. That would all be great if I had any reason to want David Horovitch's personal interpretation of Tolstoy, but I don't. It's one thing to whisper a line that's followed by text in the book, that says "...Anna whispered". But, to continuously heavily interpret the text with no clear reason except the preference of the narrator is a disservice to Tolstoy. It should be relabeled as a performance, not a narration.
Also of note is that when David whispers, it's so quiet that even at max volume it's inaudible in the car on the freeway (at least inside my Prius).
All considered, if you're looking for entertainment and don't particularly care about the meaning of the book, this is a great edition. If you want to hear Tolstoy, and form your own thoughts and opinions about his meaning, steer clear.
It is certain that Leo Tolstoy will be an author I look into in the near future after I get a bit further into my pile of books I already have set aside to listen to or to read. The narrator has an amazingly eloquent voice and I loved his ability to make distinct voices for the male characters but I felt as thought he fell short on the female characters. However this wouldn't stop me from putting him in my next pick.
The struggle that Levan has encountered throughout this book is very real and brought to the surface a struggle that I was able to make a connection. I liked Levan very much from the beginning and loved him even more so at the end of this grand story.
Eloquent, vivid and charming.
This book I don't feel is so much an inspirational book but a book for reflecting. Reflecting on ones choices in life and how best to move forward.
The title is a bit miss leading, if you know nothing of Anna Karenina and if reading this review you may be asking yourself why I haven't mentioned our dear Anna. She indeed is one of our main characters and we spend a great bit of time with her but not who the book is truly about. However her struggle in this book takes you on quite the ride and in the end I wasn't quite sure how to feel about her but I know that I felt dumb-founded and aggrevated with her decisions and her choice of how to deal with them.
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.
"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...
"A wonderful audio version of Anna Karanina."
Having read Anna Karenina a few times before I thought I would treat myself to a listen and I was well rewarded.
David Horovitch's narration brings to life the immense tapestry of characters in this dense novel - their lives, their loves, their hates, their ups and downs. The momentum of the audio version also helps with those long Russian monologues. For 'big reads' I love alternating between audio and text but much then depends on the narrator who in this case was excellent.
I also liked the way the recording was broken up into smaller chunks which made it so much easier to go back if one got lost!
"Narrator enhances story!"
The death of Anna
So many -can't decide
The narrator really makes the story come alive - I had read this book twice and must confess I skipped quite a little bit - In this version every character is excellently conveyed and the story really flows............
This is a brilliant edition of the book, easy to listen to, compulsive. I find it preferable Because I would not have time to read the book.
The husband because he is pathetic and faithful but quite inadequate.
I found it quite easy to distinguish who was speaking. He was able to render French and German tolerably well.
It made me draw breath sharply and hold my breath in anticipation
An amazing unabridged version at an amazing price! This is well read although all the characters do sound the same which can make it a little confusing at times. This is well worth the money if you have time to listen properly to all 35 hours!! A great job with a difficult and complex novel.
"Tedious, dull, long-winded"
I must be missing something. I just cannot understand why this is considered a literary classic - it was pure tedium from beginning to end. I have listened to over 50 audiobooks now (including many 'classics' and other pretty lengthy tomes), and this is the first one I have rated at less than 4 stars. First and foremost, the characters were all thoroughly unlikeable and uninteresting - I really struggled to feel any empathy at all for their largely self-inflicted tribulations. And while the plot was OK, whole story was far too long and drawn out, and frankly felt very self-indulgent on Tolstoy's part. It was so dull it actually put me off listening to audiobooks for a good few weeks afterwards!
"A Classic Epic everyone should read"
This story is just as relevant and meaningful to today and I'm sure many a modern tale has been based on it. I particularly enjoyed learning a bit about Russian peasants and farming albeit from a rather romantic and simplistic view, as well as the Russian aristocrasy. Overall a brilliant cautionary tale for anyone.
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