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Anna Karenina: a new translation

Contents

Lesson 1: Introducing Anna Karenina: Part One ............................................................................. 4 Meet the author: Leo Tolstoy's life and art ................................................................................. 4 The life of a gentleman ............................................................................................................ 4 Mother and child imagery ....................................................................................................... 4 Education and books ............................................................................................................... 4 Work and career ...................................................................................................................... 4 Marriage and family life .......................................................................................................... 5 Meet the characters: Stiva and Dolly .......................................................................................... 5 Stiva, jovial adulterer ............................................................................................................... 6 Dolly, wronged wife, dedicated mother.................................................................................. 6 Meet the characters: Levin and Kitty .......................................................................................... 7 Levin, rigid moralist blinded by love........................................................................................ 7 Kitty, naïve child playing at love .............................................................................................. 8 Meet the characters: Vronsky, Anna and Karenin ...................................................................... 8 Vronsky, suave ladies' man trapped by desire ........................................................................ 8 Anna, wife and mother in search of her identity .................................................................... 9 Karenin, "Ah, yes, the husband"............................................................................................ 10 Moving forward ..................................................................................................................... 10 Lesson 1, Assignment 1: Understanding the characters of Anna Karenina .................................. 11 Lesson 1, Assignment 2: Preparing for Lesson 2 ........................................................................... 12 Lesson 2: The race, work and a near death: Parts Two, Three and Four ...................................... 13 Kitty's illness and recovery, a choice ......................................................................................... 13 The limits of self-sacrificing love ............................................................................................... 13 Focus chapters: Part Two, I­III, XXX­XXXV ............................................................................ 13 Anna's fall: Crossing the line ..................................................................................................... 13 Like a moth to flame .............................................................................................................. 14 The steeplechase ....................................................................................................................... 14 Before the race ...................................................................................................................... 15

The race ................................................................................................................................. 15 Work and the classes ................................................................................................................. 16 Koznyshev and Levin: intellectual versus physical work ....................................................... 17 Dolly, virtuous mother at work ............................................................................................. 18 Karenin, the workaholic......................................................................................................... 18 Croquet and boredom ........................................................................................................... 19 Stiva's dinner party .................................................................................................................... 19 Dinner discussions ................................................................................................................. 19 Kitty and Levin in harmony .................................................................................................... 20 Anna's near death ..................................................................................................................... 20 Karenin wishes her dead ....................................................................................................... 20 Vronsky wishes his own death .............................................................................................. 21 Anna's perfect exit gone awry ............................................................................................... 21 The moment passes............................................................................................................... 22 Moving forward ..................................................................................................................... 22 Lesson 2, Assignment 1: Losing illusions ....................................................................................... 23 Lesson 2, Assignment 2: Preparing for Lesson 3 ........................................................................... 24 Lesson 3: Honeymoons, the beginning and end: Parts Five and Six ............................................. 25 Kitty and Levin get married ....................................................................................................... 25 The wedding .......................................................................................................................... 25 Honeymooning on the continent .............................................................................................. 26 Anna and Vronsky.................................................................................................................. 26 Three portraits of Anna ......................................................................................................... 27 Sugar and spice versus snails and puppy dog tails .................................................................... 27 Kitty and Levin ....................................................................................................................... 27 Karenin "courted" ...................................................................................................................... 28 The arch-hypocrite, Countess Lydia Ivanovna, takes aim ..................................................... 28 Disunion in the eyes of society .................................................................................................. 29 Anna and Vronsky return ...................................................................................................... 29 The estates ................................................................................................................................ 30 Levin's estate ......................................................................................................................... 30 Vronsky's estate .................................................................................................................... 32

Moving forward ..................................................................................................................... 33 Lesson 3, Assignment 1: Changing the scene ........................................................................... 35 Lesson 3, Assignment 2: Preparing for Lesson 4 ....................................................................... 36 Lesson 4: Birth and death: Parts Seven and Eight ......................................................................... 37 The search for spiritual clarity ................................................................................................... 37 Levin under the influence of city ways .................................................................................. 37 Stiva: moment of spiritual clarity .......................................................................................... 38 Anna contradicts herself........................................................................................................ 39 Anna's death: "It is not for us to judge" .................................................................................... 40 To die, one needs no letters of introduction......................................................................... 41 Levin depressed and obsessed: A spiritual death ..................................................................... 41 Levin's struggle with spirituality ............................................................................................ 41 The achievement of Anna Karenina: An answer to Anna's death............................................. 42 Anna Karenina today ............................................................................................................. 43 Moving forward ..................................................................................................................... 43 Lesson 4, Assignment 1: Searching for clarity ........................................................................... 45

Lesson 1: Introducing Anna Karenina: Part One

Meet the author: Leo Tolstoy's life and art

Welcome to the class. Anna Karenina is one of the greatest novels ever written, and perhaps the greatest Russian novel. It may be a portrait of Russian life during Tolstoy's time, but it encompasses such universal themes as love, marriage, birth and death. The novel poses as many questions as it answers, and it will definitely challenge you to think. It's impossible not to see the effects of Tolstoy's life on this novel once you know a bit more about the man. This brief introduction will add depth to your reading and give you a greater appreciation of the historical context of Anna Karenina. The life of a gentleman Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 into a noble family. His life of leisure included a large family home, great land holdings, serf labor, household servants, nannies and tutors. Tolstoy engaged in the pastimes of a gentleman of means: riding horses, hunting, gambling and living off the labor of his serfs. This was a fine life, as long as you weren't one of the serfs--who by accident of birth were obliged to work for the family from cradle to grave. Mother and child imagery Perhaps the single most important event of Tolstoy's childhood was the untimely death of his mother when he was only two years old. His father's death followed hers a few years later. Affectionate relatives raised Tolstoy, but he was preoccupied in later life by nostalgia for an imagined close-knit family centered on a warm-hearted and doting mother figure. Dedicated mothers such as Anna Karenina's Kitty and Dolly figure prominently in Tolstoy's fiction. He depicted childhood as an enviable time of innocence and children as representative of goodness in the adult world around them. Education and books Tolstoy was mostly self-taught. He dropped out of the University of Kazan after brief attempts to study Oriental languages and law, but throughout his life was a voracious reader, interested in a broad range of subjects. Many of the characters in Anna Karenina either write or read books, but the written word is rarely a sustaining source of comfort or wisdom. For instance, Levin's search for truth in Part Eight, particularly Chapter VIII, leads nowhere until he abandons books and dwells on his own life experiences. Work and career Tolstoy held physical labor in high regard, although he supported his family primarily through writing, which was an unusual career for someone of his class. Most members of the aristocratic, landed gentry pursued one of three careers, each of which is reflected in Anna Karenina:

Civil service: Unlike his characters Karenin or Stiva, Tolstoy himself never took a civil service job; indeed, it's hard to imagine him working in an office. In later life, Tolstoy became an outspoken public critic of the tsarist government. The military: Tolstoy's experiences in the military brought him into contact with the milieu in which Vronsky lives. In 1851, Tolstoy saw combat as a volunteer against the mountain tribesmen of Russia's southern borders. A few years later, he served as an artillery officer during the fiercest fighting of the Crimean War. Tolstoy's military experiences are reflected principally in his novel War and Peace. Estate management: In his middle years, Tolstoy took an active interest in the management of Yasnaya Polyana, where he made his home for many years. This interest is reflected in Levin's and Vronsky's competing approaches to estate management in Anna Karenina. Marriage and family life In 1862, Tolstoy married Sophia (Sonia) Behrs. The early years of their marriage were especially happy, and Sonia bore 13 children, eight of whom survived infancy. She was a devoted wife and mother, immensely proud and supportive of her husband's work. Sonia copied, by hand, several drafts of the 1,000-page manuscript of War and Peace. However, Sonia's devotion was not enough to keep the marriage afloat. The couple began to fight and their marriage soured. In 1910, at the age of 82, exhausted by quarrels with his wife and by the tensions between his wife and the several disciples who surrounded him, Tolstoy secretly left his home with the goal of spending his final days in a monastery. Ten days later he died of pneumonia at a nearby railroad station. His body was returned to the family estate where he was given a large public funeral. To this day, flocks of visitors come to view his simple, unmarked grave, located in a wooded glade a short walk from the family home. In the next section, you'll begin to meet the cast of characters of Anna Karenina.

Meet the characters: Stiva and Dolly

All those names! Some students complain there are too many names to remember in Russian novels. It can be a challenge, but refer back to the front matter of Anna Karenina for a list of the major characters any time you need a reminder. Let's begin an introduction to the characters with a look at Stiva and Dolly. The "a" at the end of a family name in Russian indicates a female name, so--with the exception of Anna Karenina herself--all the family names are translated using the masculine forms.

Stiva, jovial adulterer Focus chapters: Part One, I­III It's hard not to like Stiva, even though from the first scene in the novel you know he has been unfaithful to his wife and has caused chaos in his family. His absurd reflections on the situation reveal that he is foolish and irresponsible. He is most upset not because he has deceived his wife, but because he has not been more careful in concealing his wrongdoing. Rather than blaming himself directly and taking responsibility for his actions, he blames his "stupid smile" for exacerbating his wife's distress. Except for his interactions with his wife, whom he seems to take for granted, Stiva reacts with admirable sensitivity and generosity of spirit towards the problems of his friends. He loves his wife, but he is unwilling to deny himself the pleasure of the company of young and attractive women. He loves his children, but his spendthrift ways, which include buying expensive baubles for his current favorite, jeopardize their future. Although there are a number of things not to like about Stiva, he is universally liked by all who know him. Stiva's dalliances In his pursuit of women outside of marriage, Stiva is not atypical of the men of his class in Russia. Stiva's affair with the governess ends, but then he adds: "And the worst of it is she's already . . ." You assume she is pregnant, but you never learn anything more about the unnamed woman. She represents a large underclass of women, many of them actresses and dancers, who were economically dependent on men like Stiva during this time period. Dolly, wronged wife, dedicated mother Focus chapters: Part One, IV, XIX Dolly emerges as an unattractive character when you first meet her. In contrast to Stiva's robust good looks and joyful pleasure in life, Dolly is prematurely old, both in body and in spirit. She has borne seven children (five of whom are living) and is exhausted by the responsibilities of running a large household and caring for the children. Until this moment in her marriage, Dolly has been completely unaware of her husband's roving eye. Her alternately hysterical and stunned reactions to the discovery of Stiva's infidelity unnecessarily complicate the turmoil that is affecting the household. It is interesting to note that while they encourage Stiva to make things right with Dolly, the household staff sides with Stiva in the matter of the affair, which adds to her frustrations and feelings of betrayal and humiliation. Dolly would like to punish Stiva for his affair but lacks the fortitude to leave him. Anna's words of comfort to Dolly (Chapter XIX) bring into stark focus the double standard by which Dolly seems obliged to live: "These people [like Stiva] may be unfaithful, but their hearth and wife are sacred to them." Small comfort, but Dolly is placated by these words and resolves to forgive her errant spouse.

Dolly has sometimes been described as the moral center of Anna Karenina because she embodies the domestic values at the core of the novel. Dolly is generous to a fault, and that capacity to deny her own needs for the sake of others, especially of her children, is at once her strength and her weakness. You most often see her interacting with Tanya and Grisha, the only two of her children named in the novel. Now that you've met Stiva and Dolly, move on to two more primary characters in the novel: Levin and Kitty.

Meet the characters: Levin and Kitty

Levin and Kitty are sweethearts who almost don't make it to the altar. Kitty is a "princess" and like so many of her station and class, views marriage more as a business deal to secure her future than a commitment of the heart. As a result, she almost makes the wrong decision. Levin is hampered in his pursuit of Kitty because he holds a misconception that his station is "beneath" hers and that she will not consider someone like him. Levin, rigid moralist blinded by love Focus chapters: Part One, VI, IX, X­XI, XXV For all his hyperbolic love for Kitty at the beginning of Part One, Levin's heart is in the right place. At dinner with Stiva (Chapters X­XI), Levin is quite open about his views of women. He moves away from the prostitute sitting at the bar, the "painted Frenchwoman in ribbons, lace and ringlets," as if moving "from a dirty spot." He doesn't want to sully the bright and soulful image of his recent encounter with Kitty. When Stiva broaches the subject of his domestic problems, Levin expresses his dismay that a married man could cheat on his wife. Stiva quite rightly accuses Levin of being a moralist when the latter advises him not to "steal sweet rolls" (their euphemism for extramarital sex). Levin's rigid division of women into sacred and profane roles breaks down in Chapter XXV, when he visits his ailing brother Nikolai and the latter's common-law wife and former prostitute, Masha. In helping Masha to put Nikolai to bed, you get a glimpse of the generous heart sometimes hidden by Levin's dogmatic words. Nikolai's words "I'm afraid of death, terribly afraid of death" will come back to haunt Levin. Often, when a character speaks about another person, as much is revealed about the speaker as about the subject. In Levin's first view of Kitty (Chapter IX), for example, it's hard not to chuckle at his clichéd but deeply felt adoration of her. She is "a rose among nettles," almost unapproachable in her splendor. The translation exactly captures the gentle satire embedded in Levin's exaggerated idealization of the woman he hopes to marry.

Kitty, naïve child playing at love Focus chapters: Part One, XII­XIII, XXII­XXIII Almost all the characters undergo significant personal changes in the novel, and Kitty certainly has much to learn before becoming a woman. Courted by both by Vronsky and Levin, Kitty reluctantly weighs their potential as husbands in her mind. She feels completely at ease with Levin, but she imagines a brilliant future with Vronsky. Thus, even though she is thrilled when Levin proposes to her, she rejects him, risking her future in favor of the dashing Vronsky. She will long remember her miscalculation. Kitty imagines her future will be decided when Vronsky proposes during the mazurka, traditionally the most romantic dance of a formal ball. Elaborately dressed in girlish pink and tulle, Kitty is surprised to see Anna is dressed in black, rather than the lilac she has imagined for her. More upsetting is seeing Vronsky dance the mazurka with Anna. When Kitty observes the rapturous intoxication that Vronsky and Anna share for each other, she understands her trust in Vronsky has been misplaced. Yet it is Anna whom she blames: "There's something alien, demonic and enchanting in her." Let's move on and meet the most interesting and complicated characters of the novel: Vronsky, Anna and Karenin. Repeated words and phrases are a clue to significant ideas. A good example occurs in Chapter XXIII. In the sentence that begins "She was enchanting," the word "enchanting" appears six times in five lines. The last line concludes, just as in Russian, with the word "enchantment." This excellent translation is distinguished by fidelity to the original without betraying the sustained rhythm of Tolstoy's sometimes-ponderous syntax.

Meet the characters: Vronsky, Anna and Karenin

Vronsky, Anna and Karenin are not your normal love triangle. It becomes clear as you learn about the characters that Karenin's precise, rigid and scheduled nature have long squashed the vitality and life present in Anna. It's not until her encounter with Vronsky that Anna begins to recognize dissatisfaction with herself when she's with Karenin, which leaves her more vulnerable to Vronsky's advances. Vronsky, suave ladies' man trapped by desire Focus chapters: Part One, XVIII, XIX, XXII­XXIII, XXIX­XXXI Vronsky is handsome, elegant, wealthy, charming, self-confident: on all counts, a brilliant young man. He is not one to be easily caught by someone like Kitty. Vronsky will never seriously regard a young girl dressed in pink frills as his (and your) first view of Anna attests (Chapter XVIII). He is drawn to the powerful vitality Anna vainly tries to suppress and immediately recognizes her erotic potential. As Vronsky falls under her spell at the ball, he loses his accustomed worldliness

and insouciance: ". . . each time he addressed Anna he bowed his head slightly, as if wishing to fall down before her, and in his glance there were only obedience and fear." On one level, Vronsky is attracted to Anna because of the thrill of chasing a highly desirable married woman, a chase whose chances for success loom larger after he has seen Karenin. But on another level, after having met Anna, Vronsky can no longer be satisfied with the carefree life to which he is accustomed in Petersburg. Anna has enchanted him to his core and, although he doesn't yet realize it, he will be forever changed. The Horse Guards Vronsky serves in the Horse Guards, an elite section of the Russian military open to aristocrats or those with a higher education. Soldiers in the Guards, as opposed to the regular army, were chosen for their strength and good looks. Officers in the Guards were obliged to spend large sums of money on quality horses, elaborate uniforms and the extravagant life style cultivated by the group. Vronsky's choice of service says a great deal about his values. Anna, wife and mother in search of her identity Focus chapters: Part One, XVIII, XIX, XXII­XXIII, XXIX­XXXI Anna visits Moscow in an attempt to reconcile her brother Stiva and his wife Dolly. She disarms Dolly with precisely the right words needed to reunite them. You forgive her the element of calculation in her conversation with Dolly ("and here Anna guessed what might move Dolly most of all" [Chapter XIX]) because her motives are pure. With a minimum of effort, she reconciles Stiva and Dolly and restores order to their family. Sensing her goodness, Dolly's children lavish affection on Anna. All that changes after the ball; perhaps sensing the change in Anna (the narrative hints), the children ignore her. Anna confesses to Dolly that her premature departure is occasioned by the discomfort she knows she caused Kitty at the ball. Dolly comments that Anna's remark, "But really, really, I'm not to blame or only a little," reminds her of something that Stiva might say. Anna is quick to deny any resemblance between herself and Stiva, whose marital infidelity is still fresh in everyone's mind. In her heart of hearts, though, Anna knows she is leaving a day ahead of schedule because she fears her attraction to Vronsky. The power of that attraction is confirmed on the train ride home, when Anna attempts--to no avail--to engage her mind in the English novel she is reading. Her thoughts turn to Vronsky and she is overwhelmed by a succession of conflicting feelings: shame, intense arousal and unaccountable joy. That joy is reaffirmed when she realizes that Vronsky is on the same train and is following her back to Petersburg to be near her. Anna's complexity This brief account of Anna in Part One does not convey even the smallest part of who she is and who she will become. Her character cannot easily be summarized. Unlike Stiva, Princess Betsy or most of the secondary figures whom you may describe as one-dimensional, or fixed, characters,

Anna is constantly changing. Part of the challenge of reading Anna Karenina is to account for her dynamic transformations. Karenin, "Ah, yes, the husband" Focus chapters: Part One, XXX­XXXII, XXXIII Your introduction to Karenin is conveyed from the perspective of Anna as she gets off the train: "Ah, my God! What's happened with his ears?" Anna's dissatisfaction with Karenin, with his cold and slightly mocking demeanor, colors your view of him. This is a man who lives a very busy life governed by a rigid schedule. Even his lovemaking is controlled by the clock: "'It's time, it's time,' he said with a special smile, and went into his bedroom." In the presence of her husband, the barely suppressed animation that has so attracted Vronsky is now completely extinguished. Karenin seems as happy in his marriage as Anna is unhappy. Keep track of the instances of reading and writing in the text for what this habit tells us about the characters. For example, in Part One, Chapters XXIX and XXXIII, Anna tries to read an English novel, but she can't keep her mind focused. By contrast, Karenin engages in his obligatory evening ritual of reading whether he enjoys the subject or not. In temperament, Anna and Karenin are dramatically different. Moving forward In this lesson, you were introduced to Tolstoy and the characters of Anna Karenina. In Lesson 2, you'll dive into the Parts Two, Three and Four of the book, where several characters undergo fundamental changes and life-altering decisions are made. Remember the first sentence of the novel: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." This is arguably one the most famous first sentences of any novel. As the stories of the several families unfold, you'll observe the particular forms of discontent in the lives of individuals bound into a family.

Lesson 1, Assignment 1: Understanding the characters of Anna Karenina

Assignment instructions: In Lesson 1 of this class and in Part One of Anna Karenina, you met all of the major characters. What do you think they stand for? Are there universal themes in Tolstoy's characterization of them? How have they changed so far? Think about the changes most of us go through on a constant basis and apply that consideration to the characters in Anna Karenina. Which of the characters uses new understanding to modify a goal or set a new course of action? Think closely about the three main characters: Anna, Vronsky and Karenin. What clues does Vronsky's chosen profession as a member of the elite Horse Guards provide you about his character and values? How does Anna deal with her attraction to Vronsky? Are there any similarities between Anna and Stiva? Observe Karenin as he greets Anna at the rail station to welcome her home. What information do you glean about Karenin and his relationship with Anna?

Lesson 1, Assignment 2: Preparing for Lesson 2

Assignment instructions: To prepare for Lesson 2, read Parts Two, Three and Four of Anna Karenina. As you read, keep the following questions and concepts in mind. Part Two Look for connections between Anna and Frou-Frou, the two most important females in Vronsky's life. How does Vronsky's reaction to Frou-Frou relate to his feelings about Anna's pregnancy? Part Three Who works? Who doesn't work? Who takes work seriously? Consider the conflicts that different attitudes toward work create. What kind of work is valued in the world of the novel? What evidence can you cite to support your opinion? What kinds of play do the characters enjoy? Is play merely a way to relieve boredom? Are the characters free to choose their work? What constraints are placed on them by society and culture in choosing work? Part Four Imagine the novel ends with the death of Anna in childbirth. Then imagine that Anna Karenina concludes with Part Four. Would either ending be a satisfying conclusion to the novel? What issues would not get resolved?

Lesson 2: The race, work and a near death: Parts Two, Three and Four

Kitty's illness and recovery, a choice

Welcome back. In Lesson 1, you met the major characters as they appear in Part One of Anna Karenina. As you completed the required reading to prepare for this lesson (Lesson 2), you should have noticed changes in their behavior. Some of the characters change a great deal, while others remain fixed in their happy or unhappy state. You witnessed the ball from Kitty's perspective, so you're aware of the cause of her illness. Kitty rejected Levin's proposal of marriage and placed all her hopes for the future in Vronsky. Instead of receiving a marriage proposal, she witnesses the intimacy between Anna and Vronsky as they dance. Her mood changes from ecstatic expectation to humiliation and despair. It is clear to Kitty now that Vronsky was only casually attracted to her. At the beginning of Part Two, Kitty has lost the radiant innocence of childhood. Aware that she must protect herself from men like Vronsky (and, it is implied, Stiva), and the apparent harm that comes of sexual desire, she turns her attention to others. The silly dispute between the family physician and a noted specialist highlights the obvious fact that Kitty's illness is not physical (Part Two, Chapter I). The translators have deftly captured the comedy of the doctors' consultation by including all of Tolstoy's sardonic references to "the family doctor" and "the famous doctor."

The limits of self-sacrificing love

Focus chapters: Part Two, I­III, XXX­XXXV Kitty's sojourn to a German spa brings her into contact with Varenka, who embodies selfsacrificing virtue. Kitty is impressed by Varenka's serenity and quiet confidence, but her own attempt to emulate that altruistic and dispassionate approach to life backfires. Kitty resolves that in the future she will not allow herself to suppress who she is and what she wants from life. She returns "cured," but as spontaneous and carefree as in the past. Anna and Vronsky were the catalyst for the change in Kitty. As you move forward, you'll discover that Anna sets herself up to make a life-altering decision that will challenge her core beliefs and change her in fundamental ways.

Anna's fall: Crossing the line

People often subconsciously put themselves into situations to create the future that they desire. In this section, you'll discover how Anna places herself in an environment where the decision to cross the line into infidelity is seemingly made for her.

Like a moth to flame Focus chapter: Part Two, XI Anna arrives at the decision to have a sexual relationship with Vronsky as a reaction to her former life. She does not so much actively choose her new life as it befalls her. But perhaps it only seems that way. Anna is skilled in arranging decisions that suit her wishes. Anna has begun spending time in the company of Princess Betsy Tverskoy, Vronsky's first cousin. Princess Betsy's high-society circle has a reputation for witty and risqué conversation, and the pursuit of expensive pleasure and entertainment. In this new company, Anna finds herself increasingly drawn to Vronsky. Anna seems caught between the desires of her heart and the dictates of her mind. She knows that she should rebuff Vronsky's advances, but she seems powerless to stop him, or herself. Vronsky patiently pursues her, proclaiming his love at every possible moment. For all the passionate desire that has been building between Anna and Vronsky, the consummation of their love reads more like a murder than a joyful union. Carefully consider the aftermath of their first sexual encounter (Part Two, Chapter XI). It's a shockingly brutal description of an unlovely event. While Vronsky rejoices in his conquest, Anna falls limply at his feet, horrified by what she has done, and overwhelmed by both shame and guilt. Her sexual relationship with Vronsky fundamentally changes Anna. In her waking moments, she avoids confronting the implications of her liaison. However, in her dreams she imagines an elegant solution to her dilemma where Alexei Vronsky and Alexei Karenin are each a husband to her. On waking, these dreams become nightmares. Anna's conflicts are evident in her many and changing smiles. In Part One, her smiles are variously described as barely noticeable, wavering, tender, protective and humorous. By Part Two, these smiles assume a notably more provocative character. She cannot extinguish her alternately radiant or mocking and ironic smiles. Even her expressive eyes laugh. Pay special attention to Anna's smiles as they are a guide to her feelings. Anna will not be able to hide in her dreams for long. The affair will soon be revealed. Anna has recurring dreams and nightmares, many of them connected to the death of the train watchman, cut in two by a train that had run him over (Part One, Chapter XVIII). Anna calls the death "a bad omen" and in her dreams she repeatedly returns to that unfortunate scene. Be aware of Anna's dreams. They offer insight into her unconscious state of mind "when she ha[s] no power over her thoughts" (Part Two, Chapter XI).

The steeplechase

Anna's dream of two husbands is quickly going to become a waking nightmare. In this section, Anna and Vronsky's dream and real world are on an unavoidable collision path.

Before the race Focus chapters: Part Two, XVIII­XXIX The steeplechase is one of the most intensely exciting scenes in the novel. As a literal race, it reveals Vronsky's talents and his limitations. As a symbolic race, the partnership of Vronsky and Frou-Frou hints at overwhelming obstacles to Anna and Vronsky's future. Vronsky's lives intersect The steeplechase is a high point in the stylish military life that Vronsky leads. Up to this point in his affair with Anna, he has neatly divided his life, his "two passions," as he calls them, into two unconnected parts. The Emperor's Cup race is one of the rare moments of intersection of his professional and personal lives and it is not a happy meeting. Before the race, Vronsky spends time with his mare, stroking her, admiring her, trying to control her agitation. Here the narrative records a more explicitly pleasured response to Frou-Frou than to any sexual encounter he ever has with Anna (Part Two, Chapter XXI). Love tested Vronsky's quick trip to see Anna is sidetracked when Anna reveals that she is pregnant. Vronsky is momentarily flummoxed by the news, which takes his passion out of the realm of a convenient affair. His subsequent amplification, which indicates she must leave her husband, does not seem like a possible solution to Anna. Vronsky's courage is tested by Anna's tendency to split into two when she cannot resolve a problem. You see that split when he bravely tries to get her to discuss what action they might take. "Another woman," steps forward, while "the real Anna" withdraws inside of herself (Part Two, Chapter XXIII). You'll see this doubling in Anna on several more occasions. The race You'll find the drama and excitement of the race breathtaking. Vronsky has the "win" within his grasp only to have victory snatched away at a terrible cost. Focus chapters: Part Two, XXV, XXVII­XIX Vronsky's race and Anna's reactions to the race are recorded as two separate events. First, you are presented with the race itself, from the dramatic perspective of Vronsky. Then, you see the race again from the grandstands, with Karenin closely observing. What goes wrong with the race? Why does Vronsky lose the race? The answers to these questions begin in Vronsky's bad judgment. To satisfy his vanity, Vronsky asks his exhausted mare for still greater speed. To simply win is not enough for Vronsky. He craves a spectacular win. The connections between Anna and Frou-Frou Vronsky's electrifying and disastrous ride on Frou-Frou connects in several important ways to his relationship to Anna. When Frou-Frou falls, when she cannot rise to her feet, when she looks at

him with her expressive eyes and when he kicks the mare in the belly, Anna's fluttering and trembling presence, both past and future, hovers near. Vronsky's neatly compartmentalized life crashes down before him when he confronts the consequences of his desires. When Frou-Frou looks at her master with "her speaking eye" (exactly the words in the Russian text), Vronsky almost cries out Anna's name: "A-a-ah, what have I done! . . . And it's my fault, shameful, unforgivable!" His desire to win at any price costs him his mare's life. What might be the price tag for his conquest of Anna? The prostrate Frou-Frou is described as "fluttering on the ground . . . like a wounded bird" in Chapter XXV. Anna, reacting to Vronsky's fall, is described in Chapter XXIX as "thrashing around like a trapped bird." If you read this section of the novel very carefully, you'll discover additional phrases and images that reinforce the connections between the two. Confounded by their falls The day after the race, Vronsky sells his racehorses and considers resigning his commission. The separation of his two passions has been breached and the conveniently simple, conventional rules that have governed his behavior no longer apply. For Anna's part, she doesn't conceal her distress during the race when Vronsky falls. Nor does she lie to her husband about her affair. Although her honesty may have something to recommend it, Anna reverts to paralysis: "Do what you like with me." She allows both Karenin and Vronsky to make decisions for her. Not a good sign! Tolstoy based his steeplechase on a real competition, which the first readers of Anna Karenina would know well. It was a dangerous race, providing officers like Vronsky a test of courage, if not in combat, then in its nearest peacetime equivalent, a modern Roman circus. Readers surely connected Vronsky's spectacular crash to an actual fall that occurred in the first running of the race in 1872, a year before Tolstoy began work on Anna Karenina. An unintended consequence of Vronsky's participation in the steeplechase is the revelation of Anna and Vronsky's affair. Levin once chastised and judged Stiva for his affairs. As the story returns to Levin, you'll learn more about his character and the obligations of class. Whether used in the cavalry or for agriculture, transportation or sport, horses made a conspicuous contribution to the rhythms of daily life that Tolstoy so vibrantly renders. Tolstoy especially enjoyed hunting on horseback. He rode regularly, even in old age. Here's a curious fact: at the time he was working on Anna Karenina, Tolstoy briefly owned and hunted an unsuccessful racehorse named Frou-Frou.

Work and the classes

In Tolstoy's Russia, there were clearly defined classes of people. Peasant and aristocrat alike were denied the privilege of choice, instead living their lives by a pre-ordained societal code which they dared not cross. Levin and Dolly are both products of their society and defined by

class role--each searches to find meaning to their lives. Levin, in particular, must learn to put aside his personal desires and accept the obligations of his class. Koznyshev and Levin: intellectual versus physical work Focus chapters: Part Three, I­VI, XI­XII, XXIV­XXV, XXXI­XXXII As much as Levin respects his half-brother Koznyshev, they disagree on almost everything. Koznyshev devotes his life to intellectual pursuits and writing books. Levin, by contrast, gets badly muddled when he has to explain his views because he argues from the perspective of personal experience and his ideas change constantly. Levin and Koznyshev champion very different attitudes toward the countryside. For Koznyshev, a rural setting invites rest from labor, an idyllic oasis to recharge his exhausted brain. Levin has a practical view of his estate: it is a source of income, but only if he invests hard work in it. Their diametric views toward the land are evident when Koznyshev insists Levin drive the carriage across a meadow ready for harvest just to get to a good fishing spot. Koznyshev is clueless that his actions will destroy the product of someone's hard work. The joys of physical work Levin repairs his bad mood by joining his peasants in mowing. As he explains, "I need physical movement, otherwise my character definitely deteriorates . . . it's such cheerful and at the same time such hard work, that one has no time to think" (Part Three, Chapter IV). Levin is enthralled by the family life of the peasants whom he encounters. He spends the night sleeping outdoors on a haystack and considers renouncing his lifestyle. He will marry a peasant woman and join a commune; then, he imagines, everything will change for the better and his life will become merry, simple, pure and noble. You may find Tolstoy's idealized portrait of peasants as patronizing. After all, it hardly seems to be a fair division of labor between the classes. The peasants get all the physical work, while Levin (upper class) is given the spiritual burdens. The more Levin uses his mind, the less he understands the meaning of life and eventually loses his way. The burdens of class and intellect A passing coach interrupts Levin's haystack reveries (Part Three, Chapter XII). When the young woman traveling in the carriage "looks[s] through him at the glowing sunrise," Levin recognizes Kitty. Levin realizes that he loves her still and that he must remain true to his love for her and to the obligations of his class. But whatever Levin has discovered about himself, it does not make his life any easier. Just when Levin thinks he is coming to an understanding of how he should live, his brother's imminent death paralyzes his capacity to engage in life: "I work, I want to do something, and I've forgotten that everything will end, that there is . . . death." Spiritually he has lost his way.

Dolly, virtuous mother at work Focus chapters: Part Three, VII­X Dolly is now inured to the realization that her husband does not respect his marital vows. In Part Three, Chapter VII, you read: "Hard as [Stiva] tried to be a solicitous father and husband, he could never remember that he had a wife and children." His attempts to prepare the ramshackle country estate are a bust. Dolly is greeted by yet another domestic disaster of her husband's making. Dolly is best revealed when you see her with her children. When the children are being dressed for communion, Dolly, who is not fussy about her appearance, pays extra attention to her own attire: anything and everything for the sake of her children. Perhaps it is unwise of Dolly to invest so much emotional energy into her children. If Stiva were a more attentive and loving husband and father, Dolly might not be so profoundly bonded to her children. Karenin, the workaholic No matter how hard you try, it is difficult to like Karenin. His reaction, or rather lack thereof, to Anna and Vronsky's affair leave you wondering if he is capable of true devotion, love and commitment to anything other than his work. Focus chapters: Part Three, XIII­XIV Karenin is a hard worker and has a strong sense of obligation to his work. You observed this in Part One when he meets Anna at the station and then immediately returns to work. The depth of Karenin's devotion to work over personal matters is revealed by his actions after he has written to his wife to arrange their future. At this most critical moment, he turns to reading about the Eugubine Tables (Part Three, Chapter XIV). As Karenin takes up his reading, he cannot concentrate on the book. What distracts Karenin's attention? Logically, wouldn't you expect him to be upset about his personal life? Not Karenin! Instead, his workaholic mind wanders to an interesting problem from work. A satisfied flush of animation comes to his face when he jots down a note on the several points that will enable him to defeat his opponents, after which he happily returns to his reading. Poor, sad Karenin! You don't know whether work is the cause or a symptom of his problems. It's hard to feel sorry for him or to blame him for his predicament. Did you notice that Tolstoy consistently refers to Karenin by his first name and patronymic, Alexei Alexandrovich (Part Three, Chapter XIV)? This is considered to be a respectful although formal mode of address. Addressing Karenin in this manner conveys even more emotional distance between you (the reader) and Karenin. By contrast, in the very next chapter, Anna is called familiarly only by her first name.

Croquet and boredom Focus chapter: Part Three, XVIII Anna's new friends do not work. They make visits, go to the races, attend balls, drink tea, gossip, dress in the latest fashions, enjoy love affairs and play croquet. Their worry is to avoid boredom. The larger issue, of course, is that these people are economically secure by reason of their privileged birth. These wealthy idlers are a drain on the society that supports them. Betsy is often a part of the formal gatherings of high society who seem to shape public opinion. Betsy and her croquet friends are typical of the moral lassitude of the socially prominent and influential people who attend the races, the opera and the court. The same Betsy who has delighted in the intrigues of Anna's relationship to Vronsky will refuse to be seen in public with her by Part Four. As Karenin and Anna both adjust to their new lives, Stiva becomes aware of estrangement between them. To his credit, you'll see him try to help in his own way by attempting to draw Karenin out of his self-imposed rigid shell.

Stiva's dinner party

Stiva's general kind-heartedness and good nature is evident as he attempts to play match maker to Kitty and Levin. He also tries to smooth things between Anna and Karenin. Focus chapters: Part Four, VII­IX, XII In his preparations for the dinner party, Stiva shows himself to be a talented and sensitive host. When he realizes the estrangement between Anna and her husband, he politely pesters Karenin to come to dinner, where he hopes to maneuver him into conversation with Dolly. Dolly breaks through Karenin's cold and composed demeanor during their conversation (Part Four, Chapter XII) and he softens and reveals his pain to her. Kitty and Levin are at the top of Stiva's guest list, but he takes pains to conceal his Cupid fantasy. In his most endearing moment, Stiva seats them together: "Quite inconspicuously, without looking at them, but just like that, as if there were nowhere else to seat them, Stepan Arkadyich placed Levin and Kitty next to each other." Note the comic building up of tension before you finally get to learn what it is that Stiva is doing. The translators faithfully render the way Tolstoy delays satisfying your curiosity by piling up four separate dependent clauses (followed by commas) before the crucial phrase that he "placed Kitty and Levin next to each other." Dinner discussions Focus chapters: Part Four, X­XII One of the topics of discussion at the dinner party is women's education (women were allowed access to higher education in Russia only in 1872) and the connection between women's rights

and women's education. Here you are on more dramatic novelistic terrain, because the maledominated discussion connects closely to Anna's plight. Pestsov states the liberal case well: "Women want the right to be independent, educated. They are cramped and oppressed by their awareness that it is impossible" (Part Four, Chapter X). The point is made that a woman's destiny is biologically determined in a way that a man's life is not. Kitty and Levin in harmony Focus chapters: Part Four, IX, XI, XIII, XV­XVI Meanwhile, Kitty and Levin seem immune to the conversation around them. They are intensely absorbed in their own private and mysterious language: laconic, intuitive and beautiful. Levin and Kitty almost seem not to need words. Most telling, of course, is the chalkboard scene (supposedly based on Tolstoy's actual proposal to his future wife Sonia). What is vital to the moment is the precise synchronicity of their individual and mutual understandings. Phrases like "he understood everything" and "she understood everything" permeate the passage. Under the influence of Kitty's bright love, Levin passes the night restlessly but in a rapturous state, waiting for morning when he can officially propose. Remember in Part One when Stiva and Levin use the word "roll" as a code for extramarital sex? Shortly before Levin formally proposes, you read: "Levin tried to drink some coffee and put the roll in his mouth, but his mouth decidedly did not know what to do with it. He spat out the roll, put on his coat . . ." (Part Four, Chapter XV). Levin is beyond food, beyond his body. As Kitty and Levin find love and new beginnings, Anna faces the real possibility that her life is ending. Russians of the time heatedly discussed women's rights, influenced by the 1869 publication in Russian of the influential feminist tract by John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women. In the debate at Stiva's, the focus is on the difficulties faced by unmarried women in securing their livelihood. The assumption that women should marry is not questioned. Tolstoy's passage reflects the narrow definition of "the woman question" that prevailed at this time.

Anna's near death

Anna, Karenin and Vronsky undergo change of another kind as they face Anna's impending death. Karenin wishes her dead Focus chapter: Part Four, XVII You can't blame Karenin for his cynical attitude with which he arrives at Anna's deathbed, "feeling slightly relieved that there was after all some hope of death." This attitude quickly gives

way in the presence of his greatly altered wife. Anna's words, spoken in the belief that she is about to die, greatly move him and he loses control. Karenin responds contemptuously to Dolly's advice to "Love those who hate you," (Part Four, Chapter XII) but later he does just that (Part Four, Chapter XVII). The text opposes the prescriptions of law, even Christian law, which oblige Karenin to forgive, and the forgiveness blazes forth spontaneously in his soul. The discovery of feelings moves him so that he "sob[s] like a child." That emotional state represents the antithesis of everything Karenin has strived to achieve in his carefully ordered life. He is generous to a fault during the early days of Anna's recovery and his alert and affectionate attention to the baby probably saves her life. Stripped of his rigid selfcontrol, you finally see a more human side of Karenin. In sharp contrast to Karenin, Anna's illness reveals a shallow side to Vronsky. Vronsky wishes his own death Focus chapters: Part Four, I, III, XVII­XVIII In the opening chapter of Part Four, Vronsky is troubled by the similarities between himself and a visiting foreign dignitary. He is repelled by that "stupid ox" who strikes him as an "unpleasant mirror" of himself. Vronsky wants to think better of himself. He is also troubled by his changed feelings for Anna. He feels less in love with her and put off by the "moral and physical changes" he observes in her. Indeed, Anna is jealous and irritable in her pregnancy, but the greater change is in Vronsky himself: "he looked at her as a man looks at a faded flower he has plucked, in which he can barely recognize what made him pluck and destroy it." His comparison of Anna to a plucked flower offers a sad comment on the ephemeral and deceptive nature of his attraction to her. Vronsky's feelings are tested when he confronts Karenin's noble demeanor at Anna's deathbed. In a way he cannot define, he feels ashamed and unworthy. Karenin and Vronsky both live by an elaborate code of conduct. For Karenin that code is connected to the elaborate rituals of the upper echelons of the bureaucracy and the court. Vronsky's code is shaped more by the officer aristocrats who mingle their minimal duties with the extravagant life enjoyed by the wealthiest socialites. Whatever decisions each man makes, he is never free of the influence of his code. Anna's perfect exit gone awry Focus chapter: Part Four, XVII Anna is persuaded that she will die in childbirth and that her dying confession neatly resolves all of her problems. She tries to explain, as she teeters on the edge of delirium, that another woman in her loved Vronsky, and that she is now again the same as she was before Vronsky. The other woman wanted to hate Karenin, but the former woman didn't (or doesn't).

Whatever Anna says or means to say, she is clear about her desire to be forgiven. It is one of the few moments in the novel when Anna states emphatically, and with perfect clarity, what is on her mind. You'll hear a statement from Anna herself, not what she thinks people want to hear or a statement on her behalf from Vronsky or Karenin. Anna asks for and receives the words of forgiveness that will ease her passing. Unfortunately for Anna, her deathbed plea for forgiveness does not solve all her problems. Anna recovers and must still live with the consequences of her choices. The moment passes Focus chapters: Part Four, XIX­XXIII Vronsky's passion returns with even greater force after thinking he has nearly lost Anna. He cannot restrain his powerful animal nature when he learns that Karenin will grant Anna a divorce. In a flamboyant gesture, he resigns his commission, turning his back on his brilliant career, and carries Anna off to Italy. Bound together by shared and individual crises, the characters transcend and re-create themselves. This lasts only for a moment, after which they revert to their former selves with renewed intensity. Moving forward What an exciting lesson! You gained new insights into the role of work and class and explored the effect Anna's impending death had on Karenin and Vronsky. In Lesson 3, you'll observe the way their home environments influence the relationships between our couples, and Anna will make an unorthodox disclosure to Dolly when she visits the Vronsky estate. Before moving on, complete the assignments and take the quiz.

Lesson 2, Assignment 1: Losing illusions

Assignment instructions: In Lesson 1, you met the major characters in the novel. In Lesson 2, you observed as the characters began to change. Some changes were brought about by their own choices and others as a result of the actions of others. Innocence was lost, self-view shattered and core beliefs challenged. Part Two At the end of Part Two, Kitty has arrived at a place between selfishness and thoughtfulness toward others. Think about that balancing act in relationship to Anna. How is Anna changing? How have the dictates of her conscious mind been influenced by her irrational, passionate response to Vronsky? Has Anna subconsciously set herself up to make what seem to be inevitable choices? How do others balance, or fail to balance, their passions and their relationships with others? Part Three Prince Serpukhovsky remarks to Vronsky that "Women are the main stumbling block in a man's activity. It's hard to love a woman and do anything." Think about the reverse of Serpukhovsky's remarks. Are they still true; do men in the novel also intrude on women's lives? How do the men and women differ in their approaches to love in Anna Karenina? As Dolly struggles to make country home livable for her and her children, Matryona tells her mistress that things will shape up (Part Three, Chapter VII). A very attentive reader might make the connection to Matvei's use of the same phrase to console Stiva, but Tolstoy doesn't leave the connection to chance. He reminds us that the phrase has been used by Matvei (Part One, Chapter II), and explains that Matvei picked up the phrase from Matryona. Why do you think Tolstoy makes a point of connecting these two moments? Part Four In Part Four, there is a lively discussion at Stiva's dinner party regarding politics, women, education and their destiny simply by virtue of the fact that they are born female. How did being a woman in tsarist Russia limit Anna's choices? Would an education have changed Anna's choices? If so, how? If she had been free to choose her own future, what do you think she might have done differently? Are women's choices still limited simply because they are born female and not male? How might Anna's choices have been different if she had been born today?

Lesson 2, Assignment 2: Preparing for Lesson 3

Assignment instructions: To prepare for Lesson 3, read Parts Five and Six of Anna Karenina. As you read, keep the following questions and concepts in mind. Part Five Both new couples' adjustment to life together hits a few rocky spots, accentuated by unexpected company. Consider the different reactions of Anna, Vronsky and their guest, Golenishchev, when they view the artist Mikhailov's portrait of Christ before Pontius Pilate. Kitty and Levin interrupt their honeymoon to tend to Nikolai, whose imminent death elicits remarkably different reactions from each of them. What do those reactions say about the changes both Kitty and Levin have undergone since you were first introduced to them? How do Anna and Vronsky's attitudes towards their new life together differ? What does Vronsky's painting tell you about him? Part Six Part Six structurally divides into almost two equal halves. As you read, notice that Dolly and Vasenka appear in both halves and help the reader to compare the differences between the two couples (Kitty and Levin, Anna and Vronsky). How does communication between the two couples differ? Does their ability or inability to openly share their feelings impact their relationship? Do their communication styles help or hurt their relationship? How does Tolstoy reinforce the connections between these two sections? Pay special attention to the very different ways horses are treated on the two estates. Horses provide a concrete example of the defining characteristics of each estate. For Levin, horses are serious partners in serious work. By contrast, Vronsky uses horses principally for recreation.

Lesson 3: Honeymoons, the beginning and end: Parts Five and Six

Kitty and Levin get married

Welcome back. In Lesson 2, you learned how many of the characters in the novel changed in fundamental ways--some due to their own choices and others due to the choices and actions of others. You also gained new insights into how work and class played a role in the actions and reactions of the characters. In this lesson, Kitty and Levin get married. At the same time, Anna and Vronsky begin their new (albeit unmarried) life together as well. You'll observe how the environment in which the new couples (Kitty and Levin, Anna and Vronsky) choose to live influence their lives and relationships. The wedding Focus chapters: Part Five, I­VI Who doesn't love the hustle, bustle and pageantry of a wedding? Well, maybe not the bridegroom! Levin seems to be about five minutes behind everybody else, distracted and exceptionally incompetent. He doesn't even have time to listen to his protesting "inner voice" (Part Five, Chapter I). Were it not for Stiva's help and a clean shirt, Levin wouldn't even have made it to his own wedding. Despite his distraction, he is ready with his whole being, and eager to exchange his freedom for the happiness of marriage to Kitty. The solemn ceremony, punctuated by a comedy of confusion (surely a vote for wedding rehearsals), profoundly affects both Kitty and Levin, although they each understand the ritual words in very different ways. To be more precise, Kitty doesn't even listen and Levin understands less with each passing minute. However, their union has the unanimous support of the well-wishers attending the service. The "disobedient tears" in Levin's eyes give outward expression to the mystery of marriage that is taking over his soul. With a man this kind and good, it seems that Kitty should have nothing to fear. The alternation of these sections makes it easier to connect the similar issues that they all face: Is personal happiness enough to sustain a relationship? How is power wielded or contained in a relationship? How is love expressed? Think about these questions as they apply to the novel, particularly in this lesson. In Part Five, you move back and forth between five almost evenly divided sections, devoted mostly to the changed and changing lives of the new couples, Kitty and Levin and Anna and Vronsky. Even the fourth section, on Karenin and Countess Lydia Ivanovna, describes a budding, although one-sided, relationship. Kitty and Levin are not the only couple beginning a new life. Anna and Vronsky are also starting their life as a couple. Unlike the joyous celebration shared by Kitty and Levin, Anna and Vronsky's beginnings are somewhat different, especially since Anna is still married to Karenin.

Further reading: The Portable Tolstoy: Tolstoy did not confine his talents to the novel form. Here is a sampler of Tolstoy's diverse talents in work produced during his lifetime: from memoir and short stories to religious essays.

Honeymooning on the continent

Anna and Vronsky begin their life together by traveling in Italy. It is here that you begin to see the subtle hints of trouble on the horizon for the couple. Although Anna is happier than she's ever been, Vronsky is finding the adjustment to his new life a bit humdrum compared to the life he led as a member of the Horse Guards. Anna and Vronsky Focus chapters: Part Five, VII­XIII Two powerful images express the underlying pain that follows Anna and Vronsky on their leisurely travels through Italy. When Anna thinks of the evil she has done to her husband, she compares herself to "a drowning man who has torn away another man clinging to him. That man drowned" (Part Five, Chapter VIII). Despite the desperate terms in which she characterizes the situation, she is hardly drowning. She is drawn to the image of Christ's expression of pity for Pontius Pilate in Mikhailov's painting--seeking, perhaps, to identify with that noble suffering. Yet, there is no evidence that she is suffering, much as that emotion might become her situation. Anna, by her own account, is "unpardonably happy." Except for the need to avoid the company of Russians who might not accept her relationship to Vronsky, she is happier than she has ever been in her adult life. She revels in his constancy and the sacrifices that he has made for her. He solicitously attends her almost to the point of claustrophobia, but she enjoys the feeling: "To possess him fully was a constant joy for her." All her desires have been realized. Vronsky's take on all this happiness and togetherness is quite different. For all the satisfaction of his desires, he is bored. The sudden change to a civilian life and to complete freedom (so long it is spent with Anna) weighs heavily on him. When he contemplates his situation, he compares himself to "a hungry animal" (Part Five, Chapter VIII), ready to grasp at anything that might sustain him. In hopes of filling the void, he decides to take up painting. It's an unfortunate choice, because every painting decision he makes reveals his attention to technique (external form, outward appearance), but his lack of sensitivity to inner content (substance, meaning). Vronsky's admiration of Mikhailov's technique reduces the artist's achievement to mechanical skill. Perhaps you can generalize from his failure at painting and say that Vronsky himself, for all his dashing style, lacks substance.

Three portraits of Anna Three separate portraits make an appearance in the novel, and you see each from the perspective of the viewer. In the first portrait (Part Three, Chapter XIV), which Karenin views just after he has learned of his wife's infidelity, he is obliged to turn away from the insolence and defiance he reads into Anna's impenetrable eyes. In Part Five, Vronsky begins a painting of Anna in Italian costume (Chapter VIII), but he stops painting it after seeing the incomplete third portrait by Mikhailov (Chapter XIII), which captures the beauty in Anna that he assumed only he would be able to depict. This last portrait appears again in Part Seven, at a surprising moment in context. In this section of the book, you saw seeds of discontent between Anna and Vronsky. While Anna is extremely happy, Vronsky struggles with boredom and restlessness. How can the day-to-day normalcy of civilian life possibly match the glamour and excitement that he experienced as a member of Horse Guards? Resigning his commission has left a void for which Vronsky has yet to find a replacement. While Vronsky struggles to find meaning in his new life, Levin is about to face a crisis of his own as he confronts mortality at his brother's death. Mikhailov identifies the portrait's source: "It's the admonition of Pilate. Matthew, chapter twenty-seven." In that account, Christ stands passively and makes no attempt to defend himself. Cowardly Pilate, who knows that Jesus is innocent, nonetheless delivers him to the angry crowd, who clamor for his death. The account in Matthew offers an important perspective on guilt, innocence and punishment in Anna Karenina.

Sugar and spice versus snails and puppy dog tails

Even as Vronsky struggles to find his way in his new life with Anna, Levin also struggles to find balance between pleasing his new wife and maintaining his independence. He develops a new appreciation for Kitty as they face their first major crisis as a married couple when Levin's brother dies. Kitty and Levin Focus chapters: Part Five, XIV­XX Like Anna and Vronsky, Kitty and Levin are at the three-month mark in their marriage. If the images of an unpardonably happy drowning woman and a bored, hungry animal can help us to imagine Anna and Vronsky in Italy, then you can use the images of a man surprised that he must row, but not rock, his small boat, and a bird merrily and busily feathering her nest to imagine Kitty and Levin. Initially, Levin's marriage is not what he has imagined it will be. His marital boat (Part Five, Chapter XIV) has demanded a lot more of him than he expected. For her part, Kitty is "busy building her nest as best she [can], hastening both to build it and to learn how it [is] done" (Chapter XIV). She plays at being a housewife, and it doesn't bother her that she has no

important work. Levin is surprised that Kitty can be so insistent about petty domestic details. Happy as he is most of the time, he worries that he must regain his "male independence" and return to his work. This conflict of independence for Levin comes when he tells Kitty not to accompany him on his visit to his dying brother. She protests and he accuses her of turning him into a slave. When he tries to calm her with his kisses, she still will not back down. Kitty may be young but she's no pushover. Time with Nikolai accentuates the fundamentally different talents that Kitty and Levin bring to the marriage. Levin has been preoccupied by death in the past, but when he looks at the "dead body [that] was his living brother," his fears fill his mind and paralyze him from taking any action that might ease Nikolai's passing. Levin admires, without a hint of condescension, his wife's confidence in tending to his brother. She fearlessly touches the dying man's body and tidies his shabby room and, even more important, she tends to his soul by arranging for extreme unction. Chapter XX, "Death," is the only titled chapter in the novel. The theme of death is most closely associated with Levin, but he is not the only one to weigh life and death in the balance. As he approaches death, Nikolai has a "turnabout . . . that was to make him look at death as the satisfaction of his desires, as happiness." Indeed, at the precise moment of death, his luminous face seems to take on a smile. Kitty's pregnancy, confirmed immediately after the death, is a palpable demonstration of the profound and unfathomable cycle of death and life. The thought of his loving wife and their future child saves Levin from the despair of his brother's passing. They return home with a strong sense of well-being. Birth and death are part of the great dance that is life. Even as Levin despairs over his brother's death, hope is given back to him in the form of Kitty's pregnancy and the promise of continuity of family in the future. As Levin clings to this hope and the promise of a new child, Karenin begins to cling to Countess Ivanovna for advice and counsel.

Karenin "courted"

Despite the fact that Karenin became almost human when faced with the prospect of Anna's impending death, he still remains a character that is difficult to like. In his loneliness and humiliation over Anna's leaving, he seeks the counsel of Countess Lydia Ivanovna, whose advice may be viewed as somewhat cruel and self-serving. The arch-hypocrite, Countess Lydia Ivanovna, takes aim Focus chapters: Part Five, XXI­XXVII In this section, you belatedly learn of the circumstances of Karenin's marriage to Anna. Karenin was tricked into feeling honor-bound to propose to Anna by her manipulative guardian. From his family life, you know that he has never had a friend in his life, except for his recently deceased

brother. That emotional near-vacuum is apparent in the laconic description of his proposal to Anna: "He proposed and gave his fiancée all the feeling he was capable of" (Part Five, Chapter XXI). Did you get lost in the cumbersome syntax of the 10-line sentence in Chapter XXII? By now you have a sense of the principles of this new translation: fidelity to the intonational rhythms and repetitions of the original text. You can ask of Tolstoy, rather than the translators, "Why a 10-line sentence?" Why, indeed, would Tolstoy express Karenin's thoughts in this way? What is "Kareninish" about the state of mind that this sentence expresses? Anna's departure has denied Karenin access to the only person who has aroused his limited emotional capacities. Orphaned as a child, tricked into marrying Anna and now betrayed by her affair, you almost feel sorry for poor, friendless Karenin! Waiting in the wings, however, with her own tears and hypocritical religious platitudes, is Countess Lydia Ivanovna. It is she, with all her lofty Christian spirit, who decides to tell Seryozha that his mother is dead. In the absence of any other sympathetic presence in his life, Karenin is drawn to the countess "as a plant to the light" (Part Five, Chapter XXIV); a curious image to impart. Karenin may sometimes seem similar to a plant, but the countess is hardly a source of healing nourishment. Can you imagine the intolerable cruelty of telling a child that his mother is dead? Instead of revealing the truth that his mother is indeed still alive, Karenin allows his son to believe the lie. What did Karenin hope to gain by the lie? What about Countess Ivanovna? What did she have to gain? Was the lie intended to punish Anna? Was her motive self-serving? Perhaps Countess Ivanovna and Karenin were merely trying to protect Seryozha from the scandal that was sure to arise when Vronsky and Anna return to Russia and Anna is rejected by "polite" society.

Disunion in the eyes of society

There is a cost of everything, and Anna is learning the full extent of the price to be paid for her affair with Vronsky. Not only is she ostracized from society but she is denied the right to see her son as well. Anna and Vronsky return Focus chapters: Part Five, XXVIII­XXXIII Until now, very little has been said about Anna's son, Seryozha. In Part Two (Chapter XXII), he is characterized as a compass that shows Anna and Vronsky their digression from a proper course, a movement they are powerless to stop. In Italy, Anna is not at all distressed by her separation from her son, but he looms large in her thoughts when she returns to Russia. Her determination to see Seryozha is partly fueled by the offensive tone that she (correctly) reads into the

countess's note denying her the right to see him. Their stolen moments of unrestrained emotion, never to be repeated, make it even clearer that Seryozha is destined to become the dull and mechanical "book boy" (Part Five, Chapter XXVII) his father is training him to be. Innocent Seryozha becomes an unintended victim of Anna's decision to leave her husband. Anna herself shortly assumes the role of victim (or martyr) to society's sense of propriety. Society welcomes Vronsky's return but turns a cold and malicious shoulder to Anna. Anna tests that verdict by her bold appearance at the opera, the most aristocratic venue in which the powerful and wealthy put themselves on display. Vronsky is vexed "with Anna for her refusal to understand her position"; he fails to intuit that she is "experiencing the feelings of a person in the pillory" (Part Five, Chapter XXXIII). The injustice of society's decision to absolve him of culpability in Anna's fall from social grace is an age-old double-standard that he does not question. You previously saw glimpses of this double-standard when the household staff took Stiva's part in the affair with the governess. Although the governess was undoubtedly ruined, Stiva continued on in his position as before. Vronsky and Anna's reconciliation exposes the fault lines in their relationship. Anna has tried and failed to do battle against the judgment of her peers. Whether she should allow herself to be defeated by hypocrites like the countess is no longer at issue. In her own mind, she is not able to rise above their condemnation. She is defeated already by her own thoughts. Although Vronsky recognizes that Anna has been abused at the opera, he balks at the obligation to reassure Anna of his love. In a turnabout of sensitivity, Vronsky is offended by the banal sentiments that Anna increasingly needs to hear. He begins to reproach her for her demands for affection. You previously witnessed a turnabout of Vronsky's affections towards Anna when she was ill and believed to be dying. Now you see him once again retreating from Anna and unable to provide her with the comfort she craves and reassurance she needs. In contrast to society's rejection of Anna, Kitty is finding herself very much in demand as a hostess.

The estates

Levin and Kitty are finding married life just a little crowded as family and friends alike descend upon them for a relaxing visit in the country. You see Levin's reaction as one of the houseguests begins what he perceives to be a flirtation with Kitty. Levin's estate Focus chapters: Part Six, I­XV Kitty and Levin are overwhelmed by guests. While Kitty revels in her new status as wife, future mother and hostess, all the company is clearly a stress on her. Levin's "spirit [is] completely annihilated," not only by all the visitors but by what he feels is his waning authority in his own home.

The kingdom of women: the jam polemics Both Levin and Agafya Mikhailovna (the peasant woman who has tended Levin since infancy) are a little put out by the Shcherbatsky horde. Moreover, the new, waterless method of making jam they introduce disrupts an age-old ritual of the household. Levin shares his nanny's sense of "the alien Shcherbatsky influence," but makes a point of trying to cheer her up by asking about the jam. Kitty immediately "understand[s] her husband's intention" and compliments Agafya Mikhailovna on her superior pickles. The nanny, no pushover, remains cross, but is won over by the generous love that reigns on the estate. The aura of compassionate love at the Pokrovskoe estate mellows the atmosphere and resolves the women's debate. Vasenka Veslovsky, or big trouble on the Ponderosa Not every problem is resolved so easily. The arrival of Vasenka Veslovsky, a "brilliant man around Petersburg and Moscow" (read: trouble) and distant relative to the Shcherbatskys, seriously disrupts Levin's mood and threatens his relationship to his wife. Vasenka is not a heartless or hurtful man, but, like many admired men of his age and class, he is the life of the party: gregarious, stylish and chivalrously attentive to the ladies. Like a bull in Levin's china shop, Vasenka's every move violates the principles by which the estate lives. Not satisfied with that explanation? Levin's jealous. During their hunting expedition, Levin is mildly irritated by Vasenka's thoughtless abuse of his horses. Levin quells his annoyance thanks to some time by himself, hunting with his faithful and quite articulate dog Laska. Social convention be damned! Levin doesn't much enjoy his mother-in-law, who is a pest, but in his difficult role of son-in-law he can't make her go away. However, he can and does make Vasenka, the newest and most provoking irritant, go away. Levin is enraged by Vasenka's foppish attention to Kitty, even if, as Dolly later explains it, "Society's view would be that he's behaving as all young men behave. He's courting a young and pretty woman, and a worldly husband should be flattered by it" (Part Six, Chapter XV). Kitty sees her husband's distress and forces him to talk about it. They move from his study to a passageway and then into the garden in search of privacy, until the need to talk candidly overwhelms concern for social form. Their quick agreement, that there was "something indecent, impure, humiliating terrible in [Vasenka's] tone," restores harmony. A happy coda to their talk: the gardener wonders what Levin and Kitty have found in the garden that has given them the joy so obvious on their radiant faces. Vasenka literally bounced off the estate Having resolved his doubts about his right to take action on behalf of the household, Levin asks Vasenka to leave. Vasenka is bewildered by the peremptory request, but wisely senses that protest will lead to physical assault. To compound the offense, Levin sends Vasenka off in a small and bumpy springless cart, with hay instead of seats. Levin is sure that others will regard

his action with ridicule, but he doesn't care. By the end of the day, everyone in the house except the grumpy mother-in-law is restored to good humor. Although his actions are a break from tradition, they do much to restore his sense of power in his own home. Kitty wisely encourages Levin to talk about his concerns immediately, which does much to empower him to act. By contrast, Anna and Vronsky do not share the same ease of communication. Vronsky's estate Focus chapters: Part Six, XVI­XXV Vasenka Veslovsky provides the focal point from which you view conflict and resolution on Levin's estate. You meet him again at Vronsky's estate, but it is kind and generous Dolly who provides you a sensitive and carefully observed perspective on events there. Sadly, neither Anna nor Vronsky seem able to talk directly to each other. Dolly is privy to their individual conflicts, but she is not able to affect the kind of action that might resolve their muddled communications. Dolly takes a trip Dolly's musings on her journey to visit Anna (Part Six, Chapter XVI) reveal an inner life you have not previously been aware of. To this point in the novel, Dolly has never been alone with time to think. She thinks of herself as a prisoner temporarily freed from responsibilities. At this singular moment in her married life, you are privy to Dolly's "repressed thoughts." As you only later discover, Dolly poses key questions not only about her own life but about Anna's life as well. Dolly's thoughts also turn to her children. You learn that she has lost an infant son from croup and that she does not write off the possibility of another pregnancy. Dolly characterizes her 15 years of marriage as "pregnancy, nausea, dullness of mind, indifference to everything and, above all, ugliness." Recalling her recent conversation with a peasant woman who has compared the death of her little girl to "being set free," Dolly forces herself to admit that there is "a dose of truth" to those cynical words. In admitting this, Dolly unwittingly rehearses the case for controlling reproduction. In a mood of self-pity for her joyless existence, Dolly ruminates on what might have happened if she had left Stiva after first learning of his infidelity. Perhaps she might have found a man who loved her. Her powers of invention create a love affair like Anna's for herself. She imagines, with great pleasure, the astonishment on Stiva's face when she tells him of her infidelity. It's an act of self-affirmation that brings Dolly to her final destination, feeling especially kindly toward Anna. Newfangled and costly Dolly is intimidated by the sense of luxury everywhere on the estate, from the expensive-looking horses to the fashionably attired servants to the harvesting and laundry machines. The imported English nursery is full of gadgets: a baby walker, a crawling table, swings and special bathing

tubs. There is even an English nurse, but, as Dolly observes, a "slutty-looking" nurse. Dolly's defenses are building, even if she doesn't yet recognize it. Morality Dolly is troubled by a number of small things she observes. She notices Anna's new habit of "narrow[ing] her eyes at life in order not to see it all." She is disturbed that Anna does not know how many teeth Annie has. Even Anna admits that she feels superfluous in the nursery. The most difficult moment in her visit comes when Anna explains to Dolly that she will not have any more children. Dolly has been entrusted by Vronsky to plead with Anna to pursue a divorce so their future children can bear his name. Anna explains to Dolly that she will not have any more children and that she is practicing contraception. This announcement calls up in Dolly "wide-eyed astonishment," and creates an extremely difficult situation for her. The next morning Dolly cuts short her visit and hurries home to her family. It seems safe to assume contraception was not yet common knowledge among the upper class, to say nothing of the peasant population. As with other progressive technical innovations introduced to Russia, the knowledge of contraception came from Western Europe. Nobody to bounce off the estate It would be nice if bouncing an intruder off the estate was all that was needed as a marker of the restoration of harmony between Anna and Vronsky. But the intruder is deep within; Anna has changed. Consider the following lines: "He took Anna's hand and looked questioningly into her eyes," and "She, understanding that look differently, smiled at him" (Part Six, Chapter XXIV). Vronsky looks questioningly at Anna, hoping that she and Dolly discussed divorce. Anna understands his look as an invitation to make love and she responds with a smile of assent. He understands her response to be an agreement to pursue a divorce. By refusing to openly communicate, they completely misunderstand each other. Anna and Vronsky have apparently exchanged roles in many areas of their lives. Anna is not interested in Annie, while Vronsky worries about the children he thinks he will have. Vronsky takes care of the dinner arrangements, while Anna behaves as though she were a guest. Anna reads architects' plans better than Vronsky despite all his planning. It could be argued that Anna and Vronsky are obeying their inner desires and that they should be applauded for their liberated views of traditional gender roles. A more compelling explanation, however, is that they have grown apart and are grasping at any activity that might give their lives meaning. What's missing in their lives? Moving forward In Part Five of the novel, you observed destabilizing conflicts of the sort many new relationships must endure and overcome. In Part Six you saw the couples literally coming apart as the men

undertook activities in which the women did not participate. You will see more of that in Part Seven. Once again, the characters are on the move. From their country estates, they relocate to Moscow. Observe carefully as you read the influence that the change of residence has on the characters. As the novel draws to its conclusion, you'll follow the characters as they search for spiritual clarity and meaning to life. Before moving on, don't forget to take the quiz and complete the assignments to reinforce your comprehension of the book chapters. The estates at Pokrovskoe and Vozdvizhenskoe Why study Russian? Well, if you did, these estate names would be easy to pronounce and you would understand the interesting associations. Pokrovskoe calls to mind "Pokrov," "The Protective Veil of the Virgin," a Christian holiday that celebrates the Virgin Mary and her powers of protection. Vozdvizhenskoe, connected to the verb "to build, erect," is linked to "Vozdvizhenie," "The Exaltation of the Cross." One possible association: the suffering and death of Christ.

Lesson 3, Assignment 1: Changing the scene

Assignment instructions: Lesson 3 focuses on how environment and geography play a role in the relationships of Kitty and Levin and Anna and Vronsky, and influence and shape their lives. Part Five Geography plays an important role in the novel and there are numerous geographical oppositions at work. Several of these oppositions are featured prominently in Part Five: Russia vs. not-Russia, country vs. city, Moscow vs. Petersburg. What are the special characteristics of each of these settings? Which environment offers the greatest stability? What does stability mean for each couple? How does the environment change or influence any of the characters? Part Six Just as you have considered geography, you should also consider the time the two couples spend together and apart. How does being away from Kitty influence Levin? What changes do you observe in Anna when she is not with Vronsky? In what ways is Kitty "away" from Levin? In what ways is Vronsky "away" from Anna? As you followed the very different ways in which the couples solve their problems, did you consider the roles their homes played in either creating or solving problems? Examining the technicals: In Chapter XVI, Levin explains to Dolly that it would upset him if she did not take his horses to Vronsky's estate. In this brief scene, Tolstoy has Levin say the word "unpleasant" four times in as many lines of text. This translation accurately records Tolstoy's intentions. Why do you think Tolstoy has Levin repeat the word so many times? What is the effect of the repetition?

Lesson 3, Assignment 2: Preparing for Lesson 4

Assignment instructions: To prepare for Lesson 4, read Parts Seven and Eight of Anna Karenina. As you read, keep the following questions and concepts in mind. It's always important to know who's telling the story, especially in Anna Karenina. Tolstoy infuses his third-person narration with a first-person insight. You may read "She thought. . ." but the words seem to come from inside the character: "I think." Observe who is telling the story as you move forward in these final sections of the novel. Part Seven Pay special attention to Levin's moral confusion in the city at the beginning of Part Seven and Anna's stream-of-consciousness moral confusion at the end of Part Seven. They both seem out of control. Reflect on Anna's repeated dreams as you read the last chapters of Part Seven. How do her dreams influence or foreshadow her decision? Pay particular attention to the last sentence in Chapter XXXI. What flares up brightly and illuminates what had previously been concealed from her? Part Eight How does Anna's death force a spiritual crisis for Levin? Focus on Levin's thoughts of suicide. What are the flaws in their thinking as they reason their way to death? What saves Levin? What role does God play in saving him? How do you interpret the last lines of the novel when Levin says, "Life . . . has the unquestionable meaning of the good which it is in my power to put into it!"? Why do you think Anna lacks the affirmation of life Levin possesses?

Lesson 4: Birth and death: Parts Seven and Eight

The search for spiritual clarity

Welcome back. Are you enjoying the new discoveries you've made about the characters in Lesson 3? You watched as Kitty and Levin married, grew and learned to communicate. You also observed Anna and Vronsky's own rocky start and their return to Russian society, or rather, Vronsky's return while Anna was ostracized. Lesson 3 also covered Part Six, in which you explored Vronsky's estate from Dolly's perspective. Her values and insights colored what you saw and how you saw it. In this lesson, you'll focus on the three characters from whose perspective most of Part Seven is narrated: Levin, Stiva and Anna. At times, you have access to their most private thoughts, especially when Anna makes the decision about whether to end her own life. In the final section of the novel, Part Eight, you're privy to Levin's thoughts about death and his spiritual struggles, and Anna's reflections before death. Levin under the influence of city ways Focus chapters: Part Seven, I­XV Moscow has a profound influence on Levin's behavior. By nature, he is uncomfortable with what you might call "conspicuous consumption." Deprived of the time-filling demands of managing his farm, however, he feels obliged to expend time in the manner of city dwellers. Levin's naive perspective offers a comic-satiric view on the manners of the well-born. Of paying social calls, for example, he says: "A stranger comes, sits down, stays for no reason, bothers them, upsets himself and then leaves." Fast-forward a few hours and he is enacting that very ritual, and he doesn't do a very good job of it. When he stands up to leave earlier than custom permits, he is made to understand by his hostess' expression that he must sit down again and wait a few more minutes. Levin, literally under the influence Kitty worries there is little for Levin to do in Moscow because he doesn't play cards, go hang out with the guys at the men's club, drink or "go somewhere afterwards," which is the closest she can get to the word "brothel." That seemingly alien agenda exactly describes Levin's evening just hours before Kitty goes into labor (Part Seven, Chapter I). The evening begins simply enough with the bluff joviality of "the temple of idleness," as Kitty's father calls the men's club. Levin enjoys the plentiful food and an abundance of wine, some offcolor jokes, a little gaming and the merry men, even including Vronsky. After dinner, he enjoys a "feeling of peacefulness, propriety and contentment." A visit to Anna seems a logical continuation of the evening. Levin has second thoughts on the way to Anna's ("What would Kitty say?"), and he checks a mirror carefully to assure himself that he is not drunk. Once inside her apartment, he is momentarily troubled, "doubtful whether

what he was doing was good or bad." Troubled, that is, until he sees Anna's portrait. Then, he is intoxicated anew. In Anna's presence, Levin no longer doubts himself. The pleasured mood of their intelligent and graceful conversation is heightened by the way in which they respond to each other's gaze. Only when he has arrived home does he begin to suspect that there may have been something inappropriate about his visit, "something not right in the tender pity he felt for Anna." Indeed, Kitty makes short work of conveying her extreme displeasure. When Levin has come to his senses, he takes a very stern view of the previous evening. Levin experiences childbirth The petty squabbling--partly legitimate, partly exaggerated by Levin's drinking and by Kitty's edginess just before childbirth--hardly seems a fitting prelude to the sublime ecstasy that follows. Tolstoy conveys the event from Levin's point of view. When Levin first hears Kitty moan from the pain of labor, he spontaneously responds "Lord, have mercy, forgive us, help us!" An odd invocation for someone who is not a believer, but a phrase that he will repeat a number of times in the hours before Kitty's safe delivery. In an otherwise comic interlude of ineptness, Levin compares his joy at this moment to his grief at Nikolai's death (Part Seven, Chapter XIV). These extreme and extraordinary feelings have in common their qualitative difference from ordinary human feeling, a feeling in which "the soul rose to such heights as it had never known before, where reason was no longer able to overtake it." For a man who has confessed doubts in the existence of God (Part Five, Chapter I), the source of Levin's rapture here suggests an answer to his confessor's question: "What doubt can you have of the existence of the Creator, when you behold His creations?" Indeed, however you may interpret the world around us, divinely inspired or otherwise, it's hard to discount the element of miracle in birth, the sudden appearance "of a human being who had never existed before." Read carefully the description of the birth in Part Seven, Chapter XIV. What strikes you about the language? Events aren't "happening"; they are being "accomplished." The translators turn to a rhetorically charged language to convey the lofty plane of Levin's ruminations, exactly what Tolstoy conveys in the original: a moment outside of the ordinary. Stiva: moment of spiritual clarity Focus chapters: Part Seven, XVII­XXII From Stiva's first appearance in the novel he has delighted all with his unfailing good spirits. Were it not for his despicable attitude toward his wife and children, he would be an all-round likable guy. That frustrating combination seems an irremediable fixture of his character.

A talk with Karenin about a divorce earns our praise, especially when Stiva forthrightly protests the former's stony inflexibility: "Alexei Alexandrovich, I don't recognize you." Stiva's question about Anna, addressed to Seryozha, which reduces the boy to tears, is praiseworthy if only because that powerful emotion is an antidote to the unfeeling environment that dominates the Karenin household. When you learn that Stiva enjoys Petersburg because the prevailing atmosphere allows him to indulge himself and forget about his wife, children, job and debts, our small reservoir of good feelings for him dissolves. The strongest and most lasting impression of Stiva emerges from his reaction to the spiritual séance. Coming on the heels of Levin's lofty spiritual epiphany, the bogus séance rings false from the get-go. But it is Stiva's view of the event that allows for the judgment. The religious hypocrisy and inane responses of Countess Lydia Ivanovna and Karenin to the séance extract a heavy toll on his good spirits. The words "vile" and "shameful" come to his mind when he recalls that evening. Expecting the unexpected With her visit to Anna (Part Six) and his evening at the Countess's, Dolly and Stiva perform oddly analogous roles. Dolly is predisposed to regard Anna with sympathy, yet she recoils in moral shock from the implications of contraception. Given his own peccadilloes, it's no surprise that Stiva is also inclined to be generous to others; all the more powerful, then, is his unequivocal condemnation of the countess and Karenin. Anna contradicts herself Focus chapters: Part Seven, XII, XXIII­XXXI The events leading to Anna's suicide chart a course of spiritual breakdown. The changes in Anna from Part Six are palpably evident in Chapter XII, which immediately follows Levin's visit. Her behavior with Levin is characterized as "unconscious," yet it's evident from Levin's responses to her that she is well aware of the effect she has on him. You learn from the narrator proper (Anna wouldn't reveal this) that she acts that way with all young men. She dismisses Levin as soon as he has left. Anna's "unconscious" seduction of Levin and her "involuntary" preparedness for battle with Vronsky suggest that she lost control over her thoughts. If she can't isolate the motives for her actions, then she can't figure out what she wants to do and how to do it. When in doubt, imagine the worst The one mantra in which Anna seems to have confidence is the need not to submit to Vronsky. Consider, for example, her final move in a grand slam play over Vronsky's bid for control (Part Seven, Chapter XII). When Anna, whose own face is "cold and inimical," registers on Vronsky's face a "cold readiness to fight," she plays her trump card: "How close I am to disaster in these moments, how afraid I am, afraid of myself!" Vronsky is horrified, immediately submits and the victory is hers.

Savoring her conquest, she nonetheless admits to herself that the she cannot use such "a dangerous weapon" a second time. Yet the idea of punishing Vronsky does not leave her. Where does your responsibility to yourself begin and end? How much of your personal freedom do you have to give up to be a member of society? Under what circumstances does a community of people have the right to dictate to its individual members? What paves the road to Anna's suicide? Anna Karenina equivocates, destabilizes and denies any sense of secure certainty. Anna models that destabilization as society continues to puzzle over issues of personal freedom and community responsibility. The inevitability of Anna's suicide comes to readers at different points in the novel, if at all. Now it is your turn to explore, explain and consider the possible explanations for her death. There are many questions about Anna's death to consider. Carefully re-read the final two chapters of Part Seven to locate support for your own personal responses to the suicide. Reactions to suicide can be varied, ranging from sympathy, pity, shock or anger. As you continue through the lesson, think about the reactions to her suicide of those closest to Anna. Further reading: Lectures on Russian Literature: If Anna Karenina has sparked your interest in Russian literature, read what the author of the notorious Lolita had to say about the great nineteenth-century Russian writers, including Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekhov. Tolstoy or Dostoevsky: An Essay in the Old Criticism: This is a fascinating scholarly work on the two greatest writers that Russia has ever produced.

Anna's death: "It is not for us to judge"

Everyone handles death differently and each reaction is different, shaped by individual life experiences, religious beliefs and societal customs. Regardless, death is almost always an occasion of sorrow and grief. When death is by one's own hand, the tragedy is only compounded as family and friends struggle with the questions of why. Anna's suicide is no different. The reactions to Anna's suicide are varied and do not shed any wisdom or provide insights into her death. Despite his likeable nature, you see that Stiva does not mourn for long over Anna's death. It's truly sad that her own brother, Stiva, has already quickly moved past his sorrow over her death. It's equally sad that Vronsky will carry feelings of guilt and remorse to his grave. But what Vronsky's mother has to say about Anna's death is downright offensive. Anna does not die, as the embittered countess claims, "as such a woman should have ended." Her parochial position as keeper of society's virtue merits only scorn.

To die, one needs no letters of introduction Vronsky's response to Anna's death is to sacrifice his own life on the altar of his passion. Vronsky is full of regret. His gnawing toothache suggests the invisible pain now controlling his life. As he waits at the rail station, Vronsky remembers the way Anna was "mysterious, enchanting, loving, seeking and giving happiness." He also recalls her as being "cruelly vengeful." Vronsky's assessment of the contrast between who Anna was and what she became poisons the possibility of happy memories. There is no mention of his role in Anna's transformation; one can only wonder if Vronsky would think himself in any way culpable for Anna's fall. Anna's life is over and her suffering, real or imagined, has ended. However, those she leaves behind will be impacted by her actions for the rest of their lives. One of the most difficult aspects of suicide is anguish that the surviving family and friends face as they struggle to make sense of an act of hopelessness. In the final chapters, Levin struggles to find spiritual clarity and to make sense of the meaning of life. The epigraph to Anna Karenina, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay," should not be read as God's judgment on Anna. In a novel so critical of convention, it is unlikely that Tolstoy would let pass such a trite commentary on her death. A better target for censure might be society, but as Koznyshev sagely observes in his finest moment in the novel: "It is not for us to judge."

Levin depressed and obsessed: A spiritual death

Anna's death is a catalyst for a spiritual crisis for Levin. Death first forces itself into Levin's consciousness by way of Nikolai's fatal illness; Levin connects his brother's death to Kitty's labor and Mitya's birth, when, much to his surprise, he turns to God. Questions about death, God and the meaning of life fuse into a tormenting obsession with suicide: "Without knowing what I am and why I'm here, it is impossible for me to live. And I cannot know that, therefore I cannot live" (Part Eight, Chapter IX). Levin's struggle with spirituality Focus chapters: Part Eight, I­XIX Levin turns to books to help him discover the meaning of life, but that intellectual approach leads him nowhere. He cannot discover in books a sensible explanation of the larger purposes of human life. Reason, too, is suspect, for it leads Levin to the conclusion that if there is nothing more to look forward to in life than death, and if there is nothing that will be left after death, then what is it all for? On the same day that he arrives at this morbid thought, he has a chance conversation with the peasant Fyodor, who describes his neighbor Platon: "He's an upright old man. He lives for the soul. He remembers God." Levin is overtaken by a joyful feeling when he hears these words, although it will take him some time to figure out why. But he does figure out why, and not by

thinking but by listening "to the state of his soul." Reason, Levin concludes, tricks man, because the ideas of God and the soul are unreasonable and cannot be discovered by reason. Levin's statement of faith and the meaning of life Some of Levin's reflections may come across as unwieldy, better suited to an essay than to a novel, but his final formulation (Part Eight, Chapter XIX) of what he has discovered is quite simple: "Life has the unquestionable meaning of the good which it is in my power to put into it!" In other words, you can vanquish the awfulness of your mortality by good deeds, which will continue to live after you die. The faith that Levin discovers emphatically does not reside in organized religion. His is a personal faith. At first he is sure things will be wonderful, but soon realizes life will go on as before. The petty problems and irritations will always exist, but he will be secure in his new faith in the meaning of life. In the past, when Levin came to an understanding about his life, he expressed it in absolutes: everything became "clear and simple," excluding the possibility of change. No sooner does Levin arrive at an understanding of his faith than he makes the assumption that everything will be different in his life: no more quarrels with anybody, no more displays of temper, no more lapses in judgment. Only when he finally acknowledges he is not going to suddenly be perfect can he fully savor his spiritual elation. The only sad part of Levin's spiritual regeneration is his decision not to share it with his wife. When Levin sees the smile on Kitty's face, he assumes she understands what has taken place in his soul. But she does not. The implication is that she could not. When Levin decides to keep his new state of mind secret from his wife, you see here the hint of a rupture in their near perfect union. Anna's death was a life altering event for Levin and forced him to face questions which began with his brother's death. It's sad that it took her death to serve as a catalyst for his spiritual awakening. Most film versions of Anna Karenina omit Part Eight, perhaps because Levin's near-suicide doesn't lend itself to dramatic visual images as well as Anna's death. Curiously, Part Eight was not included in the serialized magazine publication of Anna Karenina in 1875­77. The publisher didn't like Tolstoy's views on the war in Serbia and refused to print the conclusion to the novel.

The achievement of Anna Karenina: An answer to Anna's death

How do you make sense of such a tragedy? What truths, if any, can be gleaned from Anna's death? Does Levin's spiritual crisis provide any light to you regarding Anna's death?

Levin's articulation of the power that each person has to do good in the world and thereby give meaning to life may offer additional explanations for Anna's suicide. Perhaps if Anna had been able to find a way to engage herself in the world, to find meaning, purpose and direction to her life, she might not have felt compelled to commit suicide. She rejected the most obvious source of engagement for a woman, motherhood, but she failed to replace it with any other activity that might sustain her spiritually. You can't avoid the implication that Anna's pursuit of her own desires constitutes an abuse of the human responsibility to live beyond one's own body. Neither can you deny Anna's courage in rejecting the narrow options open to women at the time. Anna may have erred in the way she created a life for herself outside her sterile marriage to Karenin, but like Levin, she is willing to make choices that violate the restrictive codes of their class. Anna Karenina today More than a century has passed since the publication of Anna Karenina. Today's readers of the novel surely read it in a different way than did Tolstoy's contemporaries. Many topical concerns incorporated into the novel no longer seem significant. Yet Anna Karenina is probably the most enduringly popular Russian novel for English-speaking readers. This new translation will only increase the novel's readership. You need to ask yourself why Anna Karenina is still so relevant. Social and sexual mores have changed since 1878, of course, but Tolstoy's central themes remain just as compelling now as they were then: the nature of romantic love, the tensions between freedom and security in marriage and in society, the role of children in the family and the responsibilities of parenting, the qualities that distinguish important work, and on the most basic level, the meaning of life. Even this incomplete enumeration documents the impressive scope and universality of Tolstoy's interests. Finally, Anna Karenina represents a pinnacle of achievement in the art of the novel. The novel continues to engage us in the representation of reality and the power of narrative art. Anna is the only female character in Tolstoy's fiction to struggle with the competing demands of the spirit and the flesh without sacrificing one for the other. Anna does not want to abandon her position in the world, but she wants just as much to have the freedom to explore her erotic potential. It's a lose-lose situation, and Anna pays with her life. Moving forward Congratulations! You've not just read Anna Karenina, you've taken the time and made the effort to think critically about the novel. You've got one assignment left to complete, and one quiz to take. However, your job isn't done at that point. In fact, the best is yet to come. In the days and weeks, and if you're lucky, years, ahead, the issues raised by Anna Karenina will come back, not to haunt you, but to remind you of its fundamental questions: What is love?

What kind of a lover are you (now don't take that literally) of your world and the people in your world? What kind of a family do you have and how do you define "family?" Why are you here on this earth? What can and should you expect of yourself? At what point does self-indulgence become dangerous? When is altruism noble and when it is a false feeling to massage your sense of virtue? What is the role of death in your life?

Lesson 4, Assignment 1: Searching for clarity

Assignment instructions: Anna Karenina is one of the greatest novels written and you're to be commended for taking the time to read it. The issues that Tolstoy presents in the novel are timeless and just as relevant today as they were in tsarist Russia. As you move forward, think about what you learned about the characters and how that might apply in your life. Consider the following: How did their culture and society shape their decisions? How does your culture and character today shape your decisions and your reactions to others? How did gender roles shape the outcome of the novel? How do gender roles shape your choices today? Does the fact that something is the status quo--the way it has always been--make it right? What is your reaction to the last line of the novel? Are there any truths you learned that you can apply to your life today?

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