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.
Sergey Ivanovitch Koznishev wanted a rest from mental work, and instead of going abroad as he usually did, he came towards the end of May to stay in the country with his brother. In his judgment the best sort of life was a country life. He had come now to enjoy such a life at his brother's. Konstantin Levin was very glad to have him, especially as he did not expect his brother Nikolay that summer. But in spite of his affection and respect for Sergey Ivanovitch, Konstantin Levin was uncomfortable with his brother in the country. It made him uncomfortable, and it positively annoyed him to see his brother's attitude to the country. To Konstantin Levin the country was the background of life, that is of pleasures, endeavors, labor. To Sergey Ivanovitch the country meant on one hand rest from work, on the other a valuable antidote to the corrupt influences of town, which he took with satisfaction and a sense of its utility. To Konstantin Levin the country was good first because it afforded a field for labor, of the usefulness of which there could be no doubt. To Sergey Ivanovitch the country was particularly good, because there it was possible and fitting to do nothing. (3.1.1)
Levin and his brother have radically different views on country life. For Levin, the countryside is where life is at its most vital. Koznyshev (or Koznishev) thinks that nothing happens outside of the cities. How is Levin thinking that he can be useful ("of which there could be no doubt") out in his country estate?
Now in the solitude of the country, she began to be more and more frequently aware of those joys. Often, looking at them, she would make every possible effort to persuade herself that she was mistaken, that she as a mother was partial to her children. All the same, she could not help saying to herself that she had charming children, all six of them in different ways, but a set of children such as is not often to be met with, and she was happy in them, and proud of them. (3.7.8)
The country brings out Dolly's joy in motherhood; in contrast, the city is associated with her husband's infidelities. The natural world seems to have an almost healing quality, in contrast to the damage of the social life in the cities.
[Dolly's] children scarcely knew Levin, did not remember when they had last seen him, but did not show that strange feeling of shyness and aversion towards him that children so often feel for shamming adults, for which they are so often painfully punished. Shamming in anything at all can deceive the most intelligent, perceptive person, but the most limited child will recognize it and feel aversion, no matter how artfully it is concealed. Whatever Levin's shortcoming were, there was no hint of sham in him, and therefore the children showed him the same friendliness they found in their mother's face. (3.9.14)
It seems as though Levin's great moral advantage is that he's truthful. And this truth goes beyond the fact that he doesn't lie. He also doesn't "sham," or pretend to be other than what he is. He acts instinctively according to his nature, and kids, being less damaged by society than adults, respond well to that.