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.
How can one man understand so much about human nature and portray it so vividly and so beautifully? Tolstoy seems to have lived a thousand lives. Whether he is telling the thoughts of a mother as she gives birth, the reasoning's of a man who is trying to find meaning in the conflicting worlds of science and religion, the anxious feelings of young lovers or, amusingly, the thoughts of a dog as it runs through the woods chasing birds in a hunt, the descriptions flow so effortlessly and incisively that I found myself laughing and crying and with goosebumps over and over as I listened.
There is never a sense of hurry in the story--that the best way to read it was to enjoy the prose and let the plot unfold in its slow, meandering way without expecting it or anticipating it. It's a book that should be enjoyed with leisure and pondered over time.
Regarding the audio adaptation--the narration is among the best I've ever heard.
This is the version to listen to - the narrator is one of the best I've ever heard, and I think the english in this translation is the perfect balance of 19th century formality with modern vocabulary and syntax. I read Anna Karenina years ago and loved it then. But listening to this is like discovering the novel all over again.
This work unites three classics: (1) the novel by Leo Tolstoy that depicts the inner life of women with piercing realism; (2) the translation by Louise and Aylmer Maude of 1918 that still sounds fresh and contemporary; (3) the narration by David Horovitch that effects the range of characters with only the slightest modulation in his natural voice and the subtlest of vocal "gestures": an intake of breath here, a "tsk" there. It doesn't get better than this.
Simply wonderful narration by David Horovitch. His voice gives dramatic fluctuations to the individual characters, showing his great talent for acting. This and the fact that the story was so captivating, I found myself reading the book when I returned from work - wanting more. It is a very long book and very long audio book, but I found it was well worth the time. It is a story that will stay with me always. I guess that is why it is, and always will be, a Classic...
Starting 2/14 (for love of family and time-benefit of readers), I'll limit reviews to 100 words or less with exceptions for the exceptional
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.
You must be a fan of a 'period piece' to really understand and follow Tolstoy. His writing is some of the most remarkable I have ever 'read'. I am awed by it; brilliant. I probably would never survive the printed page tho - too slow and too cumbersome for me in that form. Being able to listen and have my attention absorbed by the EXCELLENT narration is captivating.
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.
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 narrator has a wonderful set of voices. A very good production all together. And a great number of intertwined stories with complex characters.
By all admissions, this is a long book and can be daunting. However, Horovitch's gravelly voice and his obvious emotional involvement with the text makes it extremely enjoyable. I walk around with it on my ipod and find myself smiling at certain scenes and at the subtle understanding of human nature which Tolstoy masters so well and with such wry humour. I am really loving it.
I tried to read this book many years ago and gave up (found names were daunting) so when I saw this in the sale thought I would give it another try. I am so glad I did. The narrator makes it come alive. The story is so gripping that I actually waited outside a customers premises after a long drive, just to find out what happened. Well worth the money and I have no hesitation in recommending this book.
Beautifully read. Like the other reviewers I can highly recommend this audiobook. I notice it is a 'cover to cover'edition.
This is a book I've always wanted to read but have found a bit daunting. I love the detail of Tolstoy's writing which is brilliantly brought to life by David Horovitch. I recommend this.
"Definitive reading of Anna Karenina"
A masterly reading with never a lapse in concentration. The joys and sorrows of this wonderful tale are superbly conveyed so that Tolstoy's ideas are effortlessly understood. I cannot recommend David Horovitch too highly and I would read anything that he had narrated.
I've been consistently impressed with the narrators I've heard on Audible, but David Horovitch's performance in Anna Karenina is a masterclass. His pacing and voicing is perfect, and each character is brought wonderfully to life. The novel itself is without doubt brilliant, and undoubtably a classic, but I've always found it quite intimidating to take on but I would thoroughly recommend this production of it.
The depiction of pre-revolutionary Russia
The description of the harvest
This is a long slow book and needs to be read at leisure. The narration is excellent, the different characters distinguishable. I read it on paper years ago and have been glad to re-visit it.
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!
"Brilliant story, beautifully read"
Not better, just different. Both excellent.
Hard to say, loved the descriptions of the different characters, and their ways of life.
Not previously heard David readings. I think he reads beautifully.
Much more cry than laugh!
A wonderful story, beautifully told.
"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!
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