Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Moscow. Traditional capital and largest city of Russia, in which the novel opens in the prosperous, comfortable home of Stepan Arkadievich Oblonsky, Anna’s brother. The whole household, including five children and a complex structure of servants, suffer from the turmoil caused by Oblonsky’s secret indiscretion with his children’s governess. Gradually Tolstoy portrays other families and their households, showing their beliefs, life styles, and consequently the level of harmony and happiness or the lack of it.

*St. Petersburg

*St. Petersburg. Capital of Imperial Russia and rival of Moscow as Russia’s chief social and cultural center. While Moscow is the more traditional, more religious, and more Russian, St. Petersburg is more European and more avant-garde. The novel’s protagonists spend considerable time in both cities. When the novel opens, Anna and Karenin’s household is in St. Petersburg; later, Anna moves to Count Vronsky’s home in Moscow.

Leo Tolstoy depicts the easy, idle lives of Russia elite society in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Members of the elite are “infected” by modern ideas coming from the West and corroding natural and healthy family life. They spend most of their time in parlors, ballrooms, clubs and restaurants, horse tracks, ice skating rinks, and other pleasure centers that the book portrays as the Sodom and Gomorrah of their time. In these places, people...

(The entire section is 473 words.)