K.D. FoxIndependent Reading ReportAnna KareninaLeo TolstoyTolstoy was born on August 28 in 1828 on his family’s estate in the Tula region of Russia. His parents died when he was very young, leaving him and his siblings to be brought up by other family members. In school, he was unwilling to learn and did not finish his university education. After building up debts and joining the army, Tolstoy finally started writing. All of his writing has social, familial and economic themes, based on certain points of his life and the things he was exposed to. In the book Anna Karenina, he obviously used his life as a basis on what themes to include, like religious thoughts, military involvement, and politics.His wife, whom he married in 1862, was much younger than him, but praised him endlessly for his work. She helped as his proofreader in their young marriage- as he wrote both of his classics, War and Peaceand Anna Karenina, during this time. He went on to write many others. However, his later life with his wife was constantly strained. He died in 1910 after abandoning his family. Being unhealthy when he left home, he soon came down with pneumonia. After his death, thousands of peasants came to his funeral, dubbing him one of the most popular writers from Russia.Historical and Social ContextDuring this time, Russia was undergoing a crisis of political thought, with a series of royalty and intellectuals demanding European constitutional and revolution in Russia. The portrayal of democracy in Anna Kareninashows how uncertain the practice could
be- how would the peasants vote without education and knowing what they were voting for? Enthusiasm came from the noblemen and elite, but much less elsewhere. Development in Russia was prevalent during Tolstoy’s lifetime. Intellectual groups were battling over the future of the country. Some believed that Russian culture was superior to all others, while many believed that Russia needed to westernize to keep up its reputation as a world power.PlotAnna Kareninafollows the lives of the Karenin and Levin families, and how love and society affects their lives. The book mirrors Konstantin Levin and Anna Karenina’s lives, comparing and contrasting the situations that they run into. Anna falls to shame after having an adulterous affair with the dashing Vronsky, eventually leaving her husband and son to stay with him. Her reputation becomes ruined due to her actions. Levin, after being rejected from a proposal to the love of his live, Kitty, he throws himself into his farm life. However, they both meet again and end up marrying, presenting the modern woes of married life. Each present different sides of society: Anna is of the elite based in the city, while Levin is a landowner in the countryside. By illustrating the lives of both, Tolstoy is able to accurately portray the many parts and political status of Russia during this time period.