The exact sentence where ‘Anna Karenina’ becomes impossible to put down

You and I both know what happens: Anna meets Vronsky, falls in love,
is scorned, and jumps under the train. Reading the novel itself is the
most straightforward way to learn a little more about this classic of
world literature, but she takes her time getting started, circling
around the main characters and only introducing Anna after about 18

 But as I reached Chapter 22, all of a sudden it’s as if the Taj Mahal
has sprung up from once-barren ground. “The ball was only just
beginning as Kitty and her mother walked up the great staircase,
flooded with light, and lined with flowers and footmen in powder and
red coats.” Tolstoy takes such care to describe the ball, to describe
Kitty’s dress, to describe her feelings about that dress, to describe
Anna’s dress, Kitty’s reactions to it, and then, in the penultimate
paragraph of the chapter, he lets rip this cannonball of a

“Kitty looked into his face, which was so close
to her own, and long afterwards—for several years after—that look
[her look!], full of love, to which he made no response, cut
her to the heart with an agony of shame.”

That is the kind
of sentence that deserves its own novel; that is the kind of sentence
that keeps me plowing through this particular novel, because as soon
as I read it, I became certain that Anna Karenina would
be that novel.

One thought on “The exact sentence where ‘Anna Karenina’ becomes impossible to put down

  1. Pingback: ‘the consciousness of a new sphere of liability to pain’ —Anna Karenina | Jonathan's Secret City

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