Anna Karenina is a novel by the Russian writer Leon Tolstoy, published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger.
Tolstoy clashed with editor Mikhail Katkov over political issues that arose in the final installment (Tolstoy's unpopular views of volunteers going to Serbia); therefore, the novel's first complete appearance was in book form. Widely regarded as a pinnacle in realist fiction, Tolstoy considered Anna Karenina his first true novel, when he came to consider War and Peace to be more than a novel.
Fyodor Dostoevsky declared it to be "flawless as a work of art". His opinion was shared by Vladimir Nabokov, who especially admired "the flawless magic of Tolstoy's style", and by William Faulkner, who described the novel as "the best ever written". The novel is currently enjoying popularity, as demonstrated by a recent poll of 125 contemporary authors by J. Peder Zane, published in 2007 in "The Top Ten" in Time, which declared that Anna Karenina is the "greatest novel ever written"
"..The novel opens with a scene introducing Prince Stepan Arkadyevich Oblonsky ("Stiva"), a Moscow aristocrat and civil servant who has been unfaithful to his wife Darya Alexandrovna ("Dolly"). Dolly has discovered his affair with the family's governess, and the household and family are in turmoil. Stiva's affair and his reaction to his wife's distress show an amorous personality that he cannot seem to suppress. In the midst of the turmoil, Stiva informs the household that his married sister, Anna Arkadyevna Karenina, is coming to visit from Saint Petersburg.
Meanwhile, Stiva's childhood friend, Konstantin Dmitrievich Levin ("Kostya"), arrives in Moscow with the aim of proposing to Dolly's youngest sister, Princess Katerina Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya ("Kitty"). Levin is a passionate, restless, but shy aristocratic landowner who, unlike his Moscow friends, chooses to live in the country on his large estate. He discovers that Kitty is also being pursued by Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky, an army officer.
Whilst at the railway station to meet Anna, Stiva bumps into Vronsky who is there to meet his mother, the Countess Vronskaya. Anna and Vronskaya have traveled and talked together in the same carriage. As the family members are reunited, and Vronsky sees Anna for the first time, a railway worker accidentally falls in front of a train and is killed. Anna interprets this as an "evil omen." Vronsky, however, is infatuated with her. Anna is uneasy about leaving her young son, Sergei ("Seryozha"), alone for the first time.
At the Oblonsky home, Anna talks openly and emotionally to Dolly about Stiva's affair and convinces her that Stiva still loves her despite the infidelity. Dolly is moved by Anna's speeches and decides to forgive Stiva.
Kitty, who comes to visit Dolly and Anna, is just eighteen. In her first season as a debutante, she is expected to make an excellent match with a man of her social standing. Vronsky has been paying her considerable attention, and she expects to dance with him at a ball that evening. Kitty is very struck by Anna's beauty and personality and becomes infatuated with her just as Vronsky is. When Levin proposes to Kitty at her home, she clumsily turns him down, believing she is in love with Vronsky and that he will propose to her, and encouraged to do so by her mother who believes Vronsky would be a better match.
At the big ball Kitty expects to hear something definitive from Vronsky, but he dances with Anna, choosing her as a partner over a shocked and heartbroken Kitty.
Levin, crushed by Kitty's refusal, returns to his estate, abandoning any hope of marriage. Anna returns to her husband Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, a senior government official, and her son Seryozha in Saint Petersburg. On seeing her husband for the first time since her encounter with Vronsky, Anna realises that she finds him unattractive, though she tells herself he is a good man.."
Tolstoy was born in Yasnaya Polyana, the family estate in the Tula region of Russia. The Tolstoys were a well-known family of old Russian nobility. He was the fourth of five children of Count Nikolai Ilyich Tolstoy, a veteran of the Patriotic War of 1812, and Countess Mariya Tolstaya (Volkonskaya).