Novel by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, published in installments between 1873 and 1877, and in book form in 1878. A pinnacle of realism, and much admired by Dostoevsky, Nabokov, and subsequent writers, the story addresses many of the same issues as The Unbearable Lightness of Being -- hypocrisy, jealousy, fidelity, marriage, society, progress, carnal desire, and passion.
When Tereza travels to Prague to find Tomas, she chooses to carry a copy of the book as a way of suggesting a literary or intellectual connection between them. But it is an unhappy irony that the passion in Anna Karenina leads to a tragic for its title character and heroine.
Tomas and Tereza name their female dog Karenin after the husband in Tolstoy’s novel (section 11 of Part One; page 24 in this edition), and in section 11 of Part Two (page 52) the narrator refers to Anna Karenina in speaking of the significance of coincidences in life and in art.
Tolstoy's novel will turn up several more times in the story. For instance, in section 27 of Part Two (page 75), when Tereza realizes that moving to Switzerland with Tomas and becoming totally dependent upon him was a mistake, the narrator says she admits to herself that the copy of Anna Karenina under her arm “amounted to false papers; it had given Tomas the wrong idea.”