By Amy Mandelker
Amy Mandelker's feminist reinterpretation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina challenges prevailing critical notions of Tolstoy as a misogynist and Anna Karenina as a classic realist novel. Instead, Mandelker reads Tolstoy as a radical feminist at the vanguard of Russia's "woman question" debates and Anna Karenina as a modernist novel that breaks tradition.
Mandelker's revisionist analysis begins with the contention that Anna Karenina rejects the textual conventions of realism and the stereotypical representation of women, especially in Victorian English fiction. In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy uses the theme of art and visual representation to articulate aesthetics freed from gender bias and class discrimination. As Mandelker shows, Tolstoy compares the theme of the representation of women in society with the representation of women in art to critique Western bourgeois traditions that trivialize the beautiful as a feminine category in aesthetics and a purchasable commodity in society. In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy both creates and theorizes an aesthetics that transcends boundaries and liberates the individual.
An important and compelling work, Framing Anna Karenina is essential reading for scholars and students of Russian and Victorian literature, particularly those interested in feminist approaches to 19th-century novels.
Learn more about the book from Ohio State University Press.