Two love stories are set against the backdrop of high society in Tsarist Russia. Anna awakes from a loveless marriage to find herself drawn irresistibly to the dashing cavalry officer, Count Vronsky. Levin struggles with self-esteem, and even flees to the country, before gaining courage to return and offer himself to the beautiful and pure Kitty. Through troubled courtships, reconciliations, marriage and the birth of each one’s first child, Anna and Levin experience joy and despair as they each struggle to find their place in the world and meaning for their lives. (Introduction by MaryAnn)
Good reading, horrible translation
This book is a classic, and definitely worth reading/listening to, but maybe not this version. The reader is excellent. She has a measured, pleasant voice, good intonation, and smooth articulation. I recommend her work very highly.
The book will also provide any listener (or reader) with excellent insights into the Russian upper-class culture of the 19th century - the hedonism, the playing at farming, the endless moralizing on the part of some (Levin, one of the main characters, appears to be Tolstoy's portrayal of himself), and the immorality and profilgacy on the part of others (both Oblonsky and Vronsky). But it's not just philosophy. There is plenty of sordid affairs, noble spouses, extramarital pregnancies, loving mothers, jealous and insecure mistresses, and giddy girls falling in love.
However, despite the excellent quality of the book itself and the superb reader, I could only give this version 3 stars. The translation is absolutely awful. For some bizarre reason, the translator left a whole lot of Russian words untranslated into English. It took me a long time, for example, to figure out (based on the reading who "musics" were and why they were involved in agricultural pursuits. I initially thought that the word had something to do with music or musicians, and could not understand why a country gentleman and a wealthy landowner despised them so much for ruining his cows and his crops. Huh? It turns out that the word is not "music," but "muzhik," and there is a perfectly good English translatiuon for it - peasant. Why the translator left the Russian word in there is beyond perplexing to me because it renders whole scenes oddly confusing and even surreal.
Similarly, as I was listening, it seemed quite incongruous that every noble person in the book seemed to employ a Swiss person for some mysterious job, and they constantly referred to them as "my Swiss" or "his Swiss," as if "Swiss" was a profession or a piece of property. This, apparently, is a complete mistranslation. A person fluent in Russian informed me that the word for a "doorman" or a "concierge" in Russian is similar to the Russian word for "Swiss," but they are two entirely different words. The "Swisses" in the book are, basically, doormen, and they are not Swiss at all.
And the perpetual exclamation of "Bose moi" on the part of many charactetrs simply means "My god!" "Barons" are not barons, but "barins" - or, in plain English, - masters. Isfoshiks - carriage drivers, nachalniks - bosses, "wine cups" - glasses, etc. etc., etc.
In short, if you don't speak Russian and do not know obscure vocabulary in the language, take this translation by Nathan Haskell Dole with a grain of salt and try not to get too frustrated when you don't understand what some of the characters are saying or doing. Mr. Dole simply forgot to translate those words. Or maybe he left them for some Russian flavor. If he hadn't been dead for almost a century, I'd say he heavily relied on Google Translate instead of on a decent understanding of the Russian language and culture.He did not achieve an audience-friendly effect.