Sunday, October 16, 2011

Anna Karenina Read-a-Long: Week One

This week we read chapters 1-20. Below are my responses to the some of the chosen discussion questions:
2. Talk about the first sentence of the novel. “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Do you agree with its assertion?
I can't say  that I agree with this assertion. If all happy families are alike, then unhappy families can be alike as well. . .won't it be the same emotions that qualify some as happy and others as unhappy?
3. Early in Part One, we meet the Oblonsky family in the middle of a very tumultuous situation: Stiva has admitted to his wife Dolly that he has had an affair after she found a letter revealing his secret. What are your first impressions of Stiva, Dolly and their household?
How can I not be mad at Stiva for what he has done? But should something positive be said about him since he is both concerned with his wife and the governess with whom he had the affair? However, there is also a part of me that feels that his sole concern should be for fixing his own family. After all the governess was aware that this man had a family. . .Maybe  I lack sympathy?
I have a heavy heart for Dolly; however, I do wish she would forgive her husband and also help in amending the torn family relations. Once again, I am unable to empathize with this sort of turmoil. 
4. In Chapter V, we are given background into Stiva’s character—he is described as “liked by all who knew him.” Does he seem likable to you? Why or why not?
Because I am the all-knowing reader, I don't think I like him as many of his contemporaries do. I can see how everyone would like him though because he appears to be a people pleaser. Stiva goes along with the crowd. 
6. When we meet Kitty, she is tangled in an interesting web of courtship with two men. Do you get the sense that Kitty will make a good decision for herself? Do you feel she acts “rightly” towards Levin? What does the author say that’s interesting about each of the men and Kitty’s feelings about them?

I fear that Kitty is not making a good decision for herself because at one point in this reading Vronsky is described as "luring a young lady without the intention of marriage" (57). I also thinks she has true feelings for Levin but does not understand those feelings at this point. Her mother also seems a bit overbearing and may be responsible for planting the idea that Vronsky is a better match for Kitty. 
8. Do you feel Anna’s relationship with her brother and his wife Dolly is a good one? Discuss this dynamic and how you think it may play out as the book progresses.
When Anna first arrived it seemed like she was prepared to tell Dolly anything in order to get Dolly to forgive Stiva and return back to the way they were before. However, I also get the impression that Anna is slowly starting to understand how Dolly must be feeling. I think it is also very likely that Anna is realizing that she herself may be experiencing some of the same feelings as Dolly. Obviously I also think this visit was "bad" because Anna now has met Vronsky whom she appears to already have her eye on based on the conversation Anna has with Kitty. 
I look forward to reading the next week's reading!


  1. The link to Unputdownables Week One Post:

  2. I've got AK on my shelf waiting for a reread (I kind of 'read' it as a teenager. I don't think I remember much, though) I'm glad to see there's a read-a-long. I'll come back to read through the discussions when I do finally pick up the book.

  3. I completely agree with you about Stiva. I didn't find him that likable at all. He just seemed likable because he went along with what everybody else wanted.

    And about the first paragraph? I still haven't made my mind up about it. Maybe all unhappy families are different because we usually think our problems are unique, that no one in the history of the world has encountered them before. Happiness, on the other hand, always seems attainable for other people, but almost impossible to attain for yourself. But enough of my babbling. Looking forward to your coming thoughts on AK.

  4. Maybe I will revisit the first paragraph after I finish the novel. . .It's really something to think about isn't it?