The most epic novel ever written

Last updated 09:30 26/10/2012
EPIC: An early English translation of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

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"The most epic novel ever written" - that's the general consensus surrounding the book. Having read it this conclusion would seem correct. A rather bold statement but here's why:

Anna Karenina is a tragic love story of reflection of the human condition. Tolstoy delves so deep within the human psyche of each character it is almost impossible to reflect upon this book un-altered.

The plot follows the main character Anna Karenina in a tale of her life and love but uncovers the emotional consequence of every decision she makes. A charming woman whose beauty cannot save her from her self-indulgent emotional insecurities.

The story also follows another lead character, Konstantin Levin, a rich farmer who is forever questioning his purpose and self worth.

Set in 19th Century Russia, the book has all the glamour of Russian aristocracy. Balls and high society are the back drop for the context of the character development. The book itself is a lesson in the values of pre-industrial Russia just after the serfs have been freed of binding labour. It presents a Russia prior to the communist regime, which is almost as tragic as the self-destructive characters.

Tolstoy highlights all of the insecurities found within ourselves and explores them on a higher level of interrogation within each character. We can then reflect upon these characters and understand and empathise with them, yet cringe at places where they should stop and read on in horror in the places they take themselves.

An epic and time consuming read but a book that may well, through its depth of character development and highlighting the questions of our own values, leave the reader changed forever.

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