by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Constance Garnett's translation in the "Quotes" section, but referred to Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation in other parts of the guide.
Over tea Levin learned the whole story of the old man's farming. Ten years ago the old man had rente three hundred and twenty acres from a lady landowner, and last year he had bought them and rented eight hundred more from a local landowner. A small portion of the land, the worst, he rented out, and he himself ploughed some hundred acres with his family and two hired men. […] Despite the old man's complaints, it was clear that he was justifiably proud of his prosperity, proud of his sons, nephew, daughters-in-law, horses, cows, and especially that the whole farm held together. (3.25.15)
We see here an example of a peasant working according to the best of his nature. By focusing on family values, personal interest, and maintaining the land, this man has been able to fin a prosperous living that he's built up more or less from scratch. Even though we only see this old man once, he seems like one important model of how Russian peasant life should be organized (according to Levin).
"Yes, I should have said to [the old landowner]: 'You say our farming doesn't work because the muzhiks hate all improvements and that they must be introduced by authority. Now, if farming didn't work at all without these improvements, you'd be right; but it does work, and it works only where the worker acts according to his habits, like that old man half-way here' [...] We've been pushing ahead for a long time in our own way, the European way, without asking ourselves about the properties of the workforce. Let's try to look at the work force not as an ideal workforce but as the Russian muzhik with his instincts, and organize our farming accordingly." (3.28.34)
Here we get an inkling of the philosophy Levin's going to expand upon later. We're putting this in the "natural world" section because instincts emerge from nature, and because Levin connects peasants (and especially Russian peasants) with closeness to nature. How does Levin seem to imagine the nature of the Russian peasant? What connections is he making between the nature of the peasant and agricultural reforms?
At the sight of the sick man, [Kitty] felt pity for him. And pity in her woman's soul produced none of the horror and squeamishness it did in her husband, but a need to act, to find out all the details of his condition and help with them. As she did not have the slightest doubt that she had to help him, so she had no doubt that it was possible, and she got down to work at once. Those same details, the mere thought of which horrified her husband, at once attracted her attention. (5.18.2)
Kitty knows instinctively what to do to help Nicholas, while Levin is paralyzed. How does Tolstoy's portrayal of Kitty here help us to understand his views on the nature of women in general?