Anna Karenina - Amy Mandelker, Constance Garnett, Leo Tolstoy In Anna Karenina Tolstoy explores one of the most pressing questions we all face: how do we find happiness? Through Levin, Anna, and a host of supporting characters, we see several approaches to happiness. Levin searches for fulfillment through work; Anna and Vronsky through love; Alexey Alexandrovitch through duty; Stiva through superficial amusements; and Dolly through her children. All of them (perhaps except Stiva) fail to find permanent, complete happiness. This failure leads to death in some cases (Anna) and reluctant acceptance in others (Dolly). In the final chapters, however, it seems that Levin finds a solution to this problem of unhappiness. His conclusion--that knowledge of God and His creation of morality gives life meaning--was somewhat off-putting. Is Tolstoy arguing for religion or simply providing reasoning for why people are so attracted to it? Without faith and morality, are people fundamentally unhappy (evinced in the case of Anna and her subsequent suicide)? I don't think I accept Tolstoy's message here, but I think that his work in Anna Karenina is one of the best investigations into this fundamental question of how we can find meaning and happiness in our lives. For me, an agnostic, this conclusion suggests that I'm either condemned to be unhappy or that I must believe in something I consider to be implausible and unknowable in order to find peace.I didn't always enjoy Anna Karenina as I was reading it, but I'm glad I took the time to finish this long, long (754 pages!) book. Apparently, most people know the famous and tragic ending to this book before reading it, but besides knowing that a vague something bad was going to happen with a train, I had no idea. So figuring out how the plot would unfold was an encouraging factor, however, I mostly just read to see how Tolstoy wove these themes and characters together.The best writing exposes something undeniably true about human nature, and Tolstoy is definitely a master writer. There were so many moments when I paused after a paragraph and realized that these old-fashioned Russian nobles were experiencing feelings I've felt as well. And that's where literature can be so powerful--when it connects people across time and space. I have read few authors that match Tolstoy's insight into humanity.