“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way
(Leo Tolstoy 1878)
Tolstoy is a philosopher/narrator within his novel Anna Karenina. He invites the reader to philosophize about happiness, as they read the doings, the thoughts and the feelings of his characters.
The Oblonsky family’s happiness is destroyed by adultery and financial problems; the Kareninas’ reputation is ruined by scandal; and even Levin’s happy marriage suffers from jealousy and ongoing arguments.
“Love at first sight” is still popular in romance novels of our own time, as it was in Tolstoy’s time. Vronsky and Anna are immediately attracted one to the other. However, the narrator, as well as utilising traditional symptoms—red lips and shining eyes—adds a mystical and philosophical dimension to the lovers’ first meeting.