What many judge as the greatest novel ever written, Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, strikes me as a beautiful parable of the core meaning of what it means to lose life and to find it.
After a few chapters of the book, it becomes clear that the novel should more accurately be called Anna and Levin, for it contains the distinct stories of two characters. Anna moves to center stage because of her intensely enchanting power and the web of intrigue and self-deception she spins around her adulterous affair. But always the camera angle shifts away to Konstantin Levin who is living out an entirely separate plot, most of which takes place on his country estate.
Two more unlike characters could not have been devised. Anna, a sophisticated, urbane princess, could sweep into a room with her low-cut ball gown and reduce all talking to hushed whispers about Ser. She could pursue fluid, fascinating conversation on any subject with any guest while she was simultaneously sizing up the dress and hairstyle of other ...1