By Yana BondarchukWed. 17 Apr. 20243min Read

Complex Tragedy: Our Favourite Anna Karenina Quotes

Delve into the tragic and complex world of "Anna Karenina," Tolstoy's masterpiece. This is an excellent starting point for any curious reader!
Complex Tragedy: Our Favourite Anna Karenina Quotes

If you have a passion for profound Russian literature, you may well have immersed yourself in Leo Tolstoy's masterpiece, "Anna Karenina." Below, we explore some of our team's favorite quotes from this monumental novel.

"Anna Karenina" is a novel by Leo Tolstoy, first published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 and regarded as one of his finest works. The novel has remained a significant piece in the world literary canon due to its complex narrative and deep philosophical underpinnings. Set in 19th-century Russia, it weaves a rich tapestry of characters and plots that revolve around Anna Karenina, a high-society woman caught in the throes of a doomed love affair.


"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." – Narrator


This opening line of "Anna Karenina" is one of the most quoted in literature, setting the tone for a novel that explores the complexities of family and happiness. Tolstoy's insights into human emotions and relationships are as poignant today as they were in the 19th century.

"If you look for perfection, you'll never be content." – Anna Karenina

Anna's observation about perfection reflects the eternal human quest for an unattainable ideal. Tolstoy’s ability to articulate such profound truths through his characters' dialogues is what makes this book a masterpiece.

"Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be." – Anna Karenina

This quote touches on the societal expectations and personal disillusionments that are central to the novel's theme. Tolstoy's critique of social norms offers a timeless reflection on the masks we wear.

"I think... if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts." – Levin

Levin's musings on love are a crucial element of the novel, showcasing Tolstoy's philosophical depth. This idea resonates personally as it celebrates the diversity and complexity of human emotions.

"I've always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, just as he or she is, and not as you would like them to be." – Levin

Levin's declaration of unconditional love is deeply moving and encapsulates his growth as a character. Tolstoy's exploration of love and personal acceptance is both profound and inspiring.

"He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking." – Narrator, about Levin seeing Kitty

This beautifully poetic description captures the essence of romantic love and admiration. Tolstoy’s ability to paint such vivid emotional pictures is what draws me deeply into his world.

"Spring is the time of plans and projects." – Narrator

This line always strikes a chord as it reflects the renewal and optimism that spring brings. It reminds me of the cyclical nature of life and the constant opportunity for renewal and change.

"But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable." – Levin

Levin's philosophical realization about love being beyond reason is a profound commentary on the nature of human relationships. It highlights Tolstoy's deep understanding of the irrational aspects of love.

"Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women." – Levin

This quote speaks volumes about the progressive nature of some of Tolstoy’s ideas, especially considering the time he was writing. It's a reminder of the enriching influence that thoughtful and intelligent company can have on one's life.

"It is much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it." – Anna Karenina

Anna's view on altruism reflects the virtue of selfless actions, a theme that resonates throughout Tolstoy’s works. This philosophy of discreet benevolence has influenced how I view kindness and charity.

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If you liked this collection of quotes, you will also like our list of classic romance novels, available to read about, download and to import to PDF Reader Pro, right here on our blog. 

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