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Five For The Diary: Books To Read Before Oscar Season
Prepare yourself for this year’s awards contenders

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It’s time to face it: summer is nearly over and autumn is on its way. But never fear! It’s not just a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness; it’s also a season of movies and major filmmaking. The Oscar contenders will soon be hitting screens, so it’s time to prepare yourself to dazzle your friends with in-depth knowledge of the likely nominees, and pepper your conversation with phrases like, “Well, it’s no Tolstoy,” or “I preferred the novel, actually”. Read on and get ready…

WORDS HELEN O'HARA
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Five For The Diary: Books To Read Before Oscar Season | 1. Anna Karenina
1. Anna Karenina

THE BOOK Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy (1877)
THE FILM Anna Karenina, directed by Joe Wright

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE Leo Tolstoy considered this his best novel (he didn’t actually consider War And Peace a novel. Presumably, like most of the world, he considered it more of a brick) – and he may well be right. The story of an aristocratic noblewoman who throws it all away for love, it’s more a psychodrama than a romance, more a tiny disaster movie than a soppy melodrama. As in War And Peace, a character – Levin – representing Tolstoy himself takes time out to talk about farming amid the action, which may be of less than huge interest to modern folk unconcerned with 19th century advances in agriculture, but even he has his own story to contrast to Anna Karenina’s bad romance. In other words, there’s less farming than War And Peace, which is basically The Archers with Napoleon in it, and more swanning off to France for a shag. The result is a book that’s rich, layered and intensely human.

It’s been adapted for the screen before, of course, but this year sees Anna Karenina brought to the screen in a beautifully weird theatre-based format, with Keira Knightley as the society star, Jude Law as her noble husband, Matthew Macfadyen as her brother, Aaron Taylor-Johnson as her impulsive suitor and Domnhall Gleeson as Levin. The film’s more gorgeous than a Fabergé egg, and the book is a tragic masterpiece, Tolstoy painting all his characters as fully rounded, fatally flawed people.

DO SAY “If Dostoyevsky declared it a flawless work of art that’s good enough for me.”
DON'T SAY “I’m more of an Anastasia Steele person myself”

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Your Comments

1
I'm not usually one to complain about these features, but no Cloud Atlas? More

Posted by AxlReznor on Monday October 1, 2012, 17:09

2 Quick Correction
Sal Paradise was Kerouac's alter ego in On the Road, Dean Moriarty was based upon his friend Neal Cassady. Although, you'll be pleased to hear that Burroughs and Ginsberg also have literary equivalents in the novel and I'm guessing, film. All three at once! More

Posted by Roll on Monday October 1, 2012, 15:02

3 No Maguire in Life of Pi
I was sure I read somewhere that Tobey Maguire was cut out of Life of Pi and replaced with Rafe Spall because Magure was too famous or something. Shame... More

Posted by Mclovin94 on Monday October 1, 2012, 11:06

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