Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
With Anna Karenina’s famous line, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” is Leo Tolstoy saying that a good family is boring and a dysfunctional one is stimulating? Thus, are good characters and good families not the stuff of compelling stories? What, then, makes Anna Karenina such an exceptional novel? In this colloquium we will read Anna Karenina and examine what kindles our interest in its characters, actions, and ideas. We will look carefully at how Tolstoy employs characters’ relations to explore such topics as vitality, acceptable behavior, sexual equality, and love. And, we will take careful notice of how Tolstoy’s use of literary devices and structure informs our understanding of these topics and our appreciation for his artistic achievement.
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