Summary: SinceAnna Kareninawas published in 1877, almost everyone who matters in the history of literature has put in his two cents (and a few who stand out in other realms--from Matthew Arnold, who wrote a cogent essay in 1887 about ''Count Tolstoy's'' novel, to Lenin, who, while acknowledging his ''first class works of world literature,'' refers to him as ''a worn out sniveller who beat his breast and boasted to the world that he now lived on rice patties''). Dostoyevsky, a contemporary, d ...show moreeclaredAnna Kareninaperfect ''as an artistic production.'' Proust calls Tolstoy ''a serene god.'' Comparing his work to that of Balzac, he said, ''In Tolstoi everything is great by nature--the droppings of an elephant beside those of a goat. Those great harvest scenes inAnna K.,the hunting scenes, the skating scenes . . .'' Flaubert just exclaims, ''What an artist and what a psychologist!'' Virginia Woolf declares him ''greatest of all novelists. . . . He notices the blue or red of a child's frock . . . every twig, every feather sticks to his magnet.'' A few cranks, of course, weigh in on the other side. Joseph Conrad wrote a complimentary letter to Constance Garnett's husband and mentioned, ''of the thing itself I think but little,'' a crack Nabokov never forgave him. Turgenev said, ''I don't likeAnna Karenina,although there are some truly great pages in it (the races, the mowing, the hunting). But it's all sour, it reeks of Moscow, incense, old maids, Slavophilism, the nobility, etc. . . . The second part is trivial and boring.'' But Turgenev was by then an ex-friend and Tolstoy had once challenged him to a duel. E. M. Forster said, ''Great chords begin to sound, and we cannot say exactly what struck them. They do not arise from the story. . . . They do not come from the episodes nor yet from the characters. They come from the immense area of Russia. . . . Many novelists have the feeling for place . . . very few have the sense of space, and the possession of it ranks high in Tolstoy's divine equipment.'' ...show lessEdition/Copyright: 60
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