Study Guide

Anna Karenina Part 1, Chapter 11

By Leo Tolstoy

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Part 1, Chapter 11

  • Oblonsky orders another bottle of wine, and then tells Levin about a man named Count Alexis Kirillovich Vronsky, who is pursuing Kitty. Vronsky is rich, handsome, and charming.
  • Oblonsky advises Levin to propose to Kitty tomorrow morning.
  • Levin is suddenly awkward and wants to change the subject. He invites Oblonsky to the country to go shooting with him.
  • Oblonsky broaches the subject of infidelity by asking Levin about a hypothetical situation involving man, wife, and the temptations of other women.
  • (Specifically, he's worrying over what he should do about the governess. He can't ruin his family by staying with her, but he feels like he should leave her something in recognition of what they've been to each other.)
  • His wife is getting older and yet she insists on him being faithful, while the other woman has sacrificed her honor for him and demanded nothing in return. Doesn't the other woman deserve some recompense?
  • Levin doesn't think infidelity is okay, under any circumstances. What's more, he thinks all fallen women are not worthy of any further notice.
  • Levin's not one for compromise. For him, there are two kinds of love: Platonic, and non-Platonic. The latter kind of love is all about drama (this would be the kind of love Oblonsky's talking about, being torn between two women). But the former kind, Platonic love, is always pure and clear.
  • Still, in the midst of this moralizing, Levin remembers his past sins and feels guilty pronouncing judgment on Oblonsky's questions.
  • Oblonsky points out that since Levin has an extremely consistent and solid character, he wants life to be the same all the time. But life's not like that, Oblonsky says.
  • All of a sudden, the two men feel alienated from each other and absorbed in their own problems.
  • Oblonsky calls for the bill.
  • He goes and talks with some other friends, which feels like a relief from the tiring intellectual and spiritual conversations he has with Levin.
  • Levin goes to call on the Shcherbatskys.

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