I first got acquainted with the Russian literary heavyweights as a teenager, having randomly picked out “Anna Karenina” (in Japanese of course) from the family library of world literature.

I wasn’t aware that the epigraph "Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” was widely known, and the phrase struck me as very unusual.

In the novel I was not so interested in either Anna or Vronsky, but rather Levin, although why I can no longer explain. The episode where Levin ploughed up the wheat field, presumably in the Ukraine, left me with an persistant image of this store of plenty that extended to the very skyline.

It was this perhaps that meant that when reading the novel as a student and adult I would fret not only over Anna’s fate, but Levin’s too…