Poor Anna. It is perilous to be neither good nor useful. It's not like AK is an unknown story, so just a few observations that surprised me: compared to the film versions, Vronsky is egotistical and empty-headed, but improves as the story goes on; Anna is a selfish pill a lot of the time, and is much like her sensual brother, without his easygoing nature. Tolstoy notices the hypocrisy of the toleration of male adultery versus the female kind, without completely disapproving of it. He contrasts Anna and Vronsky with another young couple, Levin and Kitty: charming, well-meaning, and a little wearisome. If you're pressed for time, you can skim the parts about their souls, or farming, without missing much. Tolstoy wants to be Levin, but he really is Anna. Anyone beginning AK should note that it is NOT primarily about anyone's romance, but about Russia's floundering transition into a modern, European nation, and why people like Tolstoy thought this was not a good idea.

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