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Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina startled the world with its powerful portrayal of the human need for love and happiness weighed against the rigid demands of society. Its heroine, the sensual, rebellious Anna, renounces a respectable yet stifling marriage for an extramarital affair that offers a taste of passion even as it ensnares her in a trap for destruction. Her story contrasts with that of Levin, a young self-doubting agnostic who takes a different path to fulfillment and finds faith and marital bliss in an age of repression. Considered the greatest novel of the nineteenth century, Anna Karenina has been called Tolstoy's spiritual autobiography. Anna and Levin personify his lifelong struggle to reconcile his physical desires and intellectual ideals in order to lead a more meaningful existence. His program for abstinence and nonviolence, based on a personal interpretation of the Gospels, made him one of the world's most venerated teachers.