|Drawing of Anna Karenina by the |
lovely and talented Kathy Rose
Anna Karenina is the type of woman that you either love, hate or pity. I have not met anyone who has read the book and was not enchanted in some way by the heroine. Despite the fact that the book is named after her, she doesn't appear until the eighteenth chapter in the book. When there is so much build-up about a much talked about character, it's almost surreal how Tolstoy has built his path to her like a pedestal. We meet Anna like Vronsky meets Anna for the first time. Charming, sensual, fashionably ladylike woman in the middle of Russian winter, on a train, moving like a queen. Theirs is love at first sight, if such love exists at all. If nothing else it is definitely attraction at first sight. But those are times of decency and chivalry in interaction so theirs is nothing but polite introduction. What is shockingly intriguing is that you sense Anna is a tragic figure. She is kind, gentle and a well-mannered lady who travelled far just to convince her brother to stop cheating on his loving wife. Little does she know she will soon have to convince herself of the same thing.
|"She felt her eyes open wider and wider,|
her fingers and toes move nervously;
something inside her stopped her breath,
and all images and sounds in that
wavering semi-darkness impressed themselves
on her with extraordinary vividness."
Accompanying Anna's tragic love story is a whole tangle of Russians, learning of love, freedom, honesty, liberty, loyalty, promise and propriety. Her friends and family, all alike in love, suffer and learn through their own trials of life and love. The tale is long, exquisite and detailed and it is far from possible to squeeze it into two or three hours. It is also impossible to do it justice in any other form but the written one. So no, an HBO mini series wouldn't do either. Tolstoy has a power to draw you into his character's lives. And just as I understood Anna's attraction to Count Vronsky (and disinterest in her own husband), I was not enchanted by Vronsky myself. Her love and devotion were obvious and the magic and sparks were palpable. But unlike modern romance novels heroes Vronsky didn't appear as a hunky young man, stealing a bored wife. He didn't have to steal anything, for Anna was never Karenin's in another way but by surname. She was married young and believed she would come to love her husband eventually. When that didn't happen, she turned her affections to her beloved little son. Until a storm entered her life and turned everything upside down.
|Greta Garbo as Anna (1935)|
In all fairness the movie is nothing truly special but it has a magical touch. Which was most likely given to it by Tolstoy himself and the whole truth that this story as many others should be read not watched. Again and again.