Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is considered by many to be one of the greatest novels ever written. This study of its morally ambiguous protagonist, Anna, discusses Tolstoy’s troubled relation to the feminine in terms of the fantasies, hopes, and fears that she represents.
In Reflecting on Anna Karenina, first published in 1989, Mary Evans presents an original, feminist reading of Anna’s life and times for both students and the general audience. She argues that Anna is the embodiment of all those female characteristics that so captivated Tolstoy, and which he felt so compelled to punish in his writing. Evans indicates how author and central character are locked in a contradiction which can only be resolved in the novel by Anna’s death, but which in real life must be overcome by women’s assertion of their moral and sexual autonomy.