The Everyday Inspiration for Anna Karenina

The Everyday Inspiration for Anna Karenina
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At the start of 1873, Leo Tolstoy was fresh from the success of War and Peace and aware that the world was expecting an equally monumental work of art, something that would match that book (he refused to call it a novel) in historical scope and philosophic profundity. As such, he was consumed with writing a primer to teach Russian children the alphabet. He was sure it would be his legacy. “My proud hopes are these,” he wrote to a friend, “that two generations of all Russian children, from those of the tsar to those of the peasants, will learn using only this primer, and they will get their first poetic impressions from it, and that, having written this primer, it will be possible for me to die peacefully.”

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