Fun Facts Friday: Anna Karenina

January 13, 2012

Recently I read the novel Anna Karenina (my thoughts) which, to my surprise, I liked. It is a complex novel and upon doing more research on the subject, I decided it merits its own Fun Facts post.


1 ) Anna Karenina was originally published in serialized form from 1873 to 1877 in The Russian Messenger.

2 ) Leo Tolstoy’s political views were unpopular at the time and he clashed with the periodical’s editor. Hence the first complete appearance of the novel was as a book.

3) Anna Karenina’s character was inspired by Maria Gartung, daughter to Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

4) Critics dismissed the novel as a “trifling romance of high life”. Not taking their cues from critics author Fyodor Dostoevsky said it to be “flawless as a work of art” and Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov admired “the flawless magic of Tolstoy’s style” while American writer (and Nobel laureate)William Faulkner called it “the best ever written”.

5 ) A 2007 poll of 125 writers declared Anna Karenina as the “greatest novel ever written”.

6 ) The title of the book has sometimes been naturalized as Anna Karenin (which is what she would be called if she was married outside of Russia).

7 ) Nabakov favored removing the Russian ‘a’ but other translators left the Russian name.

8 ) Many details of the Leo and Sofya Tolstoy’s courtship appear in Levin and Kitty’s romance.

9 ) Levin is believed to be a semi-autobiographical representations of Tolstoy as he holds the same believes, struggles and experiences.

10) At the time Tolstoy wrote Anna Karenina divorce in Russia was a complicated, expensive and humiliating procedure. There were only three situations where divorce would be granted: physical disability of spouses, a missing spouse (for years), or adultery.

Zohar – Man of la book

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11 Comments

  • Marie January 13, 2012 at 10:50 am

    How fun! Anna Karenina is one of my all time favorites yet I did not know many of these tidbits! Thanks!

  • Gently Mad January 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Tolstoy is my very favorite author! Anna Karenina was great but I love War and Peace the best. The books are definitely inspired by Tolstoy’s real life. You can recognize similar characters in both books. As you point out, Levin is Tolstoy in this book and the hero, Pierre, is him in War and Peace.
    Thanks for the fun facts!

  • leah49 January 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Want to let you know I like your Fun Facts Friday!

  • Megan January 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    I’ve always wanted to read this but so far haven’t… it sounds like such a great story though.

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

  • Alex Baugh January 14, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Very interesting facts about Anna K. Greatest novel ever written? I don’t think so, but certainly up there. A good companion book would be the German novel Effi Briest by Theodore Fontane, written around the same time.

  • Julie @ Knitting and Sundries January 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Love the factoids. I read Anna Karenina last year and liked it quite a bit, even though it was a re-read (I read it first over 20 years ago and liked it not a bit back then).

  • C.E. Hart January 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

    After reading your previous review of this book (One I’ve “thought” about reading for ages) I’ve purchased it for my Kindle and have it on my to-be-read list. Thanks for the fun facts!

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