Keira Knightley will star in a new screen adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The adaptation will be written by Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love, Enigma) and the film will be directed by Joe Wright, who also worked with Knightley on two other book-based novels, Atonement and Pride & Prejudice.
William Faulkner described Anna Karenina as “the greatest novel ever written,” and there have been many adaptations for the screen including a 1997 version with Sophie Marceau and Sean Bean and, perhaps most notably, Greta Garbo in 1935.
Coincidentally, or maybe not, Leo Tolstoy, who was also the author of War and Peace and other works, was born on this day in 1828.
According to Writer’s Almanac, when Tolstoy was a child, his teachers thought he wasn’t very bright:
and although he managed to teach himself about 12 languages, he was less interested in studying than he was in gambling, drinking, and women. He dropped out of college and spent years without direction — visiting brothels, binge drinking, and racking up such huge gambling debts that he had to sell off part of his estate. Finally Tolstoy’s brother suggested that he needed a change and encouraged him to sign up for the army. He agreed, joining his brother’s artillery unit in the Caucasus in the spring of 1851. The following winter, 23-year-old Tolstoy wrote his first novel, Childhood (1852). It was praised by Turgenev and established Tolstoy’s reputation as a writer. Over the next few years, he published two more novels in the same vein, Boyhood (1854) and Youth (1856).