Reader response to Anna Karenina has ranged widely over the years, with some inclined to condemn Tolstoy's heroine categorically as a manipulating female and an immoral adulteress. while others have preferred to see her as a pathetic victim of her society's hypocritical moral code and a noble sacrifice to her own passionate capacity for love.' Whatever our final judgment of her may turn out to be, there can be little argument that Anna Karenina has indeed fallen to a pitifully low moral, spiritual and emotional state by the time she decides to commit suicide near the end of Tolstoy's novel. Addicted to narcotics. psychologically unstable. and pathologically jealous, she has by now become insanely suspicious of her lover Vronsky's every movement. And as her last carriage ride through Moscow makes abundantly clear, Anna is now bitterly cynical, if noc downright nihilistic, about the human condition in general. By smoking cigarettes, taking drugs. practicing birth control and refusing co breastfeed her child, she hardly qualifies. in any event, as the Tolstoyan epitome of feminine virtue or moral goodness.
Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Tolstoy Studies Journal
Tolstoy Society of America
Leblanc, Ronald. Levin Visits Anna: The Iconology of Harlotry. Tolstoy Studies Journal, V. III, 1990, pp. 1-20.