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Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina


by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina Religion 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.

Quote #1

"But [Princess Shcherbatsky's] daughter said nothing in reply; [Kitty] only thought in her heart that one could not speak of excessiveness in matters of Christianity. what excessiveness could thee be in following a teaching that tells you to turn the other cheek when you have been struck, and to give away your shirt when your caftan is taken?" (2.33.8)

This moment of contemplation on Kitty's part takes place when she is still friends with Madame Stahl. How does her belief that "one could not speak of excessiveness in matters of Christianity" change after she realizes Madame Stahl is kind of a bully? How does Kitty's thoughts about faith change after this episode in the novel?

Quote #2

"I beg you to hear me out, it's necessary. I must explain my feelings to you, those that have guided me and those that will guide me, so that you will not be mistaken regarding me. You know that I had decided on a divorce and had even started proceedings. I won't conceal from you that, when I started proceeding, I was undecided, I suffered; I confess that I was driven by a desire for revenge on you and on her. When I received her telegram, I came here with the same feelings – I will say more: I wished for her death [...] But I saw her and I forgave. And the happiness of forgiveness revealed my duty to me. I forgave her completely. I want to turn the other cheek. I want to give my shirt when my caftan is taken, and I only pray to God that He not take from me the happiness of forgiveness! [...] That is my position. You may trample me in the mud, make me the laughing-stock of society, I will not abandon her, I will never say a word of reproach to you." (4.17.54)

How does Karenin's forgiveness for Anna work as an example of spiritual epiphany? Spiritual feeling and society seem absolutely opposed for Karenin in this scene. Does this opposition stand more generally throughout the novel?

Quote #3

The sight of his brother and the proximity of death renewed in Levin's soul the feeling of horror at the inscrutability and, with that, the nearness and inevitability of death, which had seized him on that autumn evening when his brother had come for a visit. The feeling was now stronger than before; he felt even less capable than before of understanding the meaning of death, and its inevitability appeared still more horrible to him; but now, thanks to his wife's nearness, the feeling did not drive him to despair: in spite of death, he felt the necessity to live and to love. he felt that love saved him from despair and that under the threat of despair, this love was becoming still stronger and purer. (5.20.55)

It seems like Kitty and Levin have an almost spiritual or religious component to their relationship in comforting Levin in the face of his brother's death. How does this moment in the book represent an intellectual crisis for Levin? What is Tolstoy saying about reason versus emotion in the face of the great unknowns of life?

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