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

These famous opening lines of Anna Karenina hearken back to the genre of the family novel, a type of work that had been popular in Russia several decades earlier but was already outmoded by the 1870s. Tolstoy revisits this old genre in order to give his own spin on family values, which were a popular target of attack for young Russian liberals at the time. Moreover, this opening sentence of Anna Karenina sets a philosophical tone that persists throughout the work. It is not a narrative beginning that tells a story about particular characters and their actions. Rather, it is a generalization, much like a philosophical or scientific argument. It makes a universal statement and is set in the present tense rather than the novelists preferred past tense. Tolstoy thus announces that he is more than just a novelist, and that his aims are greater than simply weaving a tale for us. He wants us to philosophize about happiness, in the grand tradition set by the philosopher Plato two thousand years earlier. Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be. But if you dont love me, it would be better and more honest to say so. Here Anna reproaches Vronsky for putting his mothers needs before hers. When he asks to postpone their move to the country a few days so that he can transact some business for Countess Vronsky first, Anna objects, prompting Vronsky to say it is a pity Anna does not respect his mother. Annas response dismisses the very notion of respect in a rather surprising way. We see clearly that, as in many marital quarrels, the apparent topic of conversation (Vronskys respect for his mother) thinly covers the underlying topic of their relationship. Additionally, Annas contrast between respect and love is startling, even illogical. Most of us value respect and do not consider it the opposite of love or a substitute for love. But we must remember Annas situation: respect is a public virtue, while love is a private one, and Anna is an outcast from society with no hopes of public pardon. We cannot blame her for hating the social respect that will never be hers again. Moreover, Annas anger at Vronsky retains traces of her frustration with Karenin. Respectability is Karenins great concern, often to the detriment of his private life, as when he prefers keeping a rotten marriage that looks respectable to an honest divorce that would have the potential to accommodate love. My life now, my whole life, regardless of all that may happen to me, every minute of it, is not only not meaningless, as it was before, but has the unquestionable meaning of the good which it is in my power to put into it! In the closing lines of Anna Karenina, Levins exuberant affirmation of his new faith and philosophy of life reminds us of Tolstoys aim for his novel, which is philosophical as much as narrative. Levins meditation provides a final instance of how his experiences mirror Annas; his beginning reflects her end. Levin gains a claim to my whole life . . . every minute of it shortly after Anna has utterly lost her whole life. Levins gain corresponds precisely to Annas loss, in a symmetry typical of Tolstoys careful structuring of the novel.