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Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy

Published: 1877

Widely regarded as a pinnacle in realist fiction, Tolstoy considered this book his first true novel. The character of Anna was likely inspired, in part, by Maria Hartung (1832–1919), the elder daughter of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Soon after meeting her at dinner, Tolstoy started reading Pushkin's prose and once had a fleeting daydream of "a bare exquisite aristocratic elbow", which proved to be the first intimation of Anna's character.

Although most Russian critics panned the novel on its publication as a "trifling romance of high life", Fyodor Dostoevsky declared it to be "flawless as a work of art." His opinion is seconded by Vladimir Nabokov, who especially admired "the flawless magic of Tolstoy's style" and the motif of the moving train, which is subtly introduced in the first chapters (the children playing with a toy train) and inexorably developed in subsequent chapters (Anna's nightmare), thus heralding the novel's majestic finale. According to a recent poll of 125 contemporary authors, published in a book entitled The Top Ten, Anna Karenina is the greatest novel ever written.
(From
Wikipedia, description text under GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL))

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