The Opening Line of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy's handwritten manuscript for Anna Karenina

The first line in Anna Karenina, an 1878 novel written by Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, reads:

All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Tolstoy opens his nearly 900-page book with this bleak sentence to lure readers into a tale of marriage, love, betrayal and family dynamics. The opening line of Anna Kerenina introduces readers to the story of Anna Kerenina, with whom Count Vronsky persuades to have an affair. Over eight parts, the novel introduces additional characters who mirror similar struggles.

This opening line offers readers the chance to explore what truly makes families happy or unhappy and how such feelings can manifest and impact exterior relationships and life choices.

Julia Quade
Julia is a Web Content Writer for The Stake, where she is responsible for researching current topics and writing reviews and relevant blog posts. In 2017, she earned a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia with an emphasis in Magazine Editing. She currently resides in St. Louis.