Count Leo Tolstoy lived from 1828-1910 in Russia. He studied languages, law, and then joined the army and actually served in a regiment in the Crimean war. Following the war, he wrote his first collection of stories. He was interested in the education of peasant children, and set up his own school. He had thirteen children of his own! Later in life he wrote and passed out pamphlets rejecting the concepts of church and state, and private property. He was so radical he was excommunicated in 1901. He is also the author of "War and Peace". Some consider "Anna Karenina" to be the world’s greatest novel.
Anna: Karenin’s wife. A young woman in a loveless marriage. She is sexy, passionate. Men all want her, and she needs their attention. She leaves her husband for Vronsky and lives in sin with him. Also very insecure, winds up a morphine addict who chucks herself under a train.
Karenin: Anna’s husband, 20 years older than she. Very cold, sarcastic, sneering dude, who works all the time. Refuses to let Anna be with her son when she leaves.
Kitty: Pretty, sensitive, sweet young thing. Loves Levin, then Vronsky, then Levin. Marries Levin, has babies, becomes a good little country wife.
Levin: Thirties, landowner, obsessed with his ideas on peasant life and agriculture. Talks about these ideas to everyone, bores people to tears. Marries Kitty. Prone to mood shifts and uncontrollable jealousy.
Dolly: Kitty’s sister, married to Oblonsky. Has six kids, stays with Oblonsky, even though he cheats on her constantly.
Oblonsky: Good-natured, high-spirited, friend to Levin, and cheating husband.
Nikolai: Brother to Levin. Drinking and gambling problems, very gruff, very sick, dies.
Seriozha: Son of Anna and Karenin, (about 6-8 years old), loves Mom no matter what.
Vronsky: Once suitor to Kitty, then lover to Anna. Very wealthy army man, very ambitious, but gives it all up for Anna. Can seem cold and proud, but inside is loving and passionate.
Varenka: Sad friend of Kitty’s.
Countess Ivanovna: Very religious woman, hopelessly obsessed with Karenin, moves in on him when Anna leaves.
The book is not very plot-heavy, but rather follows in minute detail, the lives and relationships of several people. Both stories occur simultaneously, but for simplicity’s sake, I will summarize each one separately, and you can look to the chapter-by-chapter summaries for the actual chronology.
The first, and title, relationship is between Anna and Vronsky. Anna Karenina, a beautiful, seductive young woman is married to a cold, distant older man named Karenin. While visiting her sister-in-law, Dolly, she meets the young, handsome Vronsky ( who is supposed to be courting Dolly’s sister Kitty). Anna and Vronsky fall in love and begin an affair. Eventually Anna becomes pregnant with Vronsky’s baby. She leaves Karenin and Vronsky leaves his military career, and the two go abroad. The rest of the story chronicles their relationship: the difficulties of being social outcasts both while living abroad and in Russia; Anna’s desire to get a divorce which her husband refuses to grant; the jealousies and suspicions that build up in Anna’s mind; her dissolve into hopelessness and finally, her suicide.
The other relationship followed is that of Kitty and Levin. Levin, a mid-thirties landowner and farmer, has been, for years, searching for the meaning of life. He has also been desperately in love with Kitty, a tender sweet young thing. Levin was courting her, when Vronsky stepped in. Levin retreats, then comes back to try again. He asks Kitty to marry him, she says no. Levin returns to his farm and immerses himself in his work. Meanwhile, Kitty has realized that Vronsky has no intention of marrying her. When he goes off with Anna, Kitty falls into despair and illness and has to be taken abroad. Finally, Levin and Kitty get it together and get married. Kitty moves to Levin’s farm, and the two of them adjust to married life. Kitty helps him through the difficult death of his brother, and he helps her through the difficult birth of their child. Levin is disconcerted because the work that was once so important to him, no longer matters as much, and he is also prone to fits of jealousy over his young bride. In the end, they find happiness and Levin discovers a new religious faith which gives him the meaning of life he was searching for, and the ability to enjoy all that he has.
CHAPTER BY CHAPTER
- Prince Oblonsky wakes up in the study of his home, where he has been sleeping for the last three days, since his wife Dolly found out that he was having an affair with their children’s French governess.
- Oblonsky thinks about how he doesn’t really love his wife, and how he wishes he had been able to hide his affair better.
- His old valet, Matvey comes in to help him get dressed.
- Oblonsky tells him that his (Oblonsky’s) sister, Anna Karenina, will be coming to stay with them tomorrow.
- Matvey tells Oblonsky that Dolly is planning on taking the children and leaving, and that Oblonsky must go apologize to her.
- The beginning of this chapter describes how Oblonsky doesn’t make up his own mind about anything, but rather thinks whatever "…happens to be in fashion."
- Oblonsky is a liberal because it suits his way of life better, not because he necessarily agrees with its ideology.
- He hears the voices of two of his children, Tanya, his oldest daughter, and Grisha, his youngest son (they are both still young).
- Oblonsky thinks about how he loves his daughter more than his son, and doesn’t hide it very well.
- In the bedroom, Dolly is trying to get up the nerve to leave him, but can’t seem to do it.
- Oblonsky comes in to apologize to her, and they both scream and cry and she tells him to go away, and she goes to deal with the children and he goes to work.
- They haven’t made up, but she is not leaving him.
- Oblonsky goes to work where he is head of one of Moscow’s court houses, a job he got through his sister Anna’s husband, Alexei Karenin, who is a minister in another court house.
- In the afternoon, his childhood friend, Levin, arrives. Both men are about 34 years old, and live very different lives; Oblonsky in the city, and Levin in the country, where he owns 6,000 acres of land.
- Oblonsky knows that Levin is in love with Dolly’s sister, Kitty, and tells Levin that he can find them ice skating in the Zoological gardens and then meet him for lunch later.
- Levin thinks about how many years he has been in love with Kitty.
- He feels that she is too good for him, and that he left Moscow for the country because he knew he couldn’t have her. But he has now returned to Moscow to ask her to marry him anyway.
- Levin recalls the events of this morning.
- He arrived in Moscow and went to see his half-brother, Koznyshev, to ask his advice on marrying Kitty.
- Levin wants to ask Koznyshev about Kitty, but instead the two wind up talking about how Levin has left a County Council, the Zemstvo.
- Koznyshev also tells him that their older brother, Nikolai, (Levin’s brother, and Koznyshev’s half-brother) is in Moscow as well.
- Levin is disturbed by this news, because Nikolai is the black sheep of the family, who runs with a bad crowd, lost all his fortune, and fights with his brothers.
- Levin says he wants to go see him and Koznyshev tells him not to bother.
- Levin goes to the gardens to find Kitty and Dolly ice skating.
- He is so nervous when he sees her he almost can’t speak to her at all. But finally he does, and then the two of them skate together.
- She is friendly, but at some point he senses that something is not quite right, but he can’t tell what it is.
- Kitty is about to leave with her mother, and Levin tells her he will stop by her house later.
- Oblonsky shows up and takes Levin away to eat.
- Everyone at the restaurant falls all over Oblonsky because he always spends a lot of money there.
- Oblonsky orders a huge meal and Levin and he talk about the differences between country and city life.
- They talk about Levin’s wanting to propose to Kitty, and Oblonsky tells him that he thinks he has a good chance with her.
- Oblonsky then tells Levin that there is one rival for Kitty’s love, Vronsky, who is the son of a Count and an aid to one of the Emperor’s in Petersburg.
- Oblonsky tells Levin to ask Kitty to marry him as soon as possible.
- Oblonsky then tries to talk to him about his affair, but Levin can’t understand how any man could ever want a woman other than his wife.
- This chapter talks about how 18-year-old Kitty is a huge hit with all the single men in Moscow.
- Also, how difficult it is to marry off a girl, and how Kitty’s father favors Levin, but her mother prefers Vronsky (because he’s rich, intelligent, well-born and has a great job).
- Kitty’s mother is afraid that since Levin is back in town, Kitty will want to marry him.
- Kitty waits for the arrival of her guests, and thinks about how Levin is probably going to propose to her and she is going to have to say no and hurt his feelings.
- Which is exactly what happens.
- Levin arrives early, gets Kitty alone, and pops the question.
- She says no and he feels awful. He starts to leave.
- He is prevented, though, by Kitty’s mother coming into the room.
- She can tell by their faces what has happened and feels relieved.
- Kitty’s friend, Countess Nordston, comes in and starts giving Levin a hard time about his views of city life (as she always does).
- Levin again wants to leave but now Vronsky comes in, and Levin stays so he can find out why Kitty loves Vronsky instead of him.
- Vronsky and Countess Nordston start talking about the existence of spirits, knowing that Levin doesn’t believe.
- They decide to hold a séance then and there, but Kitty’s father comes in and distracts them.
- Kitty notices that her father only talks to Levin and ignores Vronsky.
- Her father soon leaves, and so does Levin.
- After Kitty goes to bed, her mother and father have a fight about her mother’s matchmaking efforts, because her father suspects that Vronsky has no intention of marrying Kitty.
- By himself, Vronsky thinks about how nice Kitty is, and how great it is to have her love, but how he doesn’t really plan on marrying her.
- The next morning Vronsky goes to the train station to meet his mother who is arriving, and he bumps into Oblonsky, who is waiting for his sister, Anna, who is on the same train.
- Oblonsky tells Vronsky that Levin proposed to Kitty last night and got rejected.
- Vronsky feels suddenly competitive with Levin.
- The train arrives, and Vronsky goes on board to get his mother and passes a charming, lovely and animated woman.
- It turns out to be Anna Karenina, and she has spent the whole train ride with his mother talking about him.
- The two meet, and he is clearly smitten with her immediately.
- As they all get off the train, they see and hear that a man has been run over by the train.
- People are horrified, and the dead man’s wife is wailing over the body.
- Vronsky gives the stationmaster 200 rubles to give to the widow in order to impress Anna.
- In the carriage, Oblonsky tells Anna all about what is happening with his wife, and hopes that Anna will help smooth things over with Dolly.
- Anna arrives and talks to Dolly alone, and tells her how sorry she is, how sorry Oblonsky is, and how much he loves her. Anna begs Dolly to forgive him.
- Anna, Dolly and Oblonsky eat dinner together.
- After dinner Kitty arrives to meet Anna and is also immediately smitten with her.
- The children all adore Anna as well and hang all over her.
- Kitty talks to Anna about the upcoming ball, while Dolly and Oblonsky talk privately in another room (Anna hopes that they are making up).
- Anna tells Kitty that she remembers being young like Kitty and having all the romantic hopes in the world.
- Dolly and Oblonsky make up, and the four of them sit down to dinner.
- Anna goes to get a photo album with pictures of Anna’s son, Seriozha.
- The doorbell rings and Vronsky comes by with papers for Oblonsky.
- He and Anna catch a glimpse of one another, and get all hot and bothered.
- Vronsky refuses to come inside and leaves.
- This strikes everyone as odd, and Kitty is aware that he won’t come in because of Anna.
- The night of the ball arrives, and Kitty looks lovely and perfect.
- She sees Anna and is even more smitten by her and her beauty.
- Vronsky comes over to them, and Anna is cold to him.
- Kitty waits for Vronsky to ask her to dance, but he seems to have forgotten about her.
- Vronsky and Kitty do eventually dance.
- Kitty waits for him to ask her for the all-important last dance, because that would prove that he is devoted to her, but he doesn’t ask her for it.
- She assumes that he will, and she refuses other invitations and waits for him.
- She sees the way Vronsky and Anna are looking at each other and is heartbroken.
- Vronsky asks Anna for the last dance, and Kitty dances with someone else. Anna leaves the ball early.
- Levin feels unloved and sorry for himself, and goes to see his brother, Nikolai.
- Levin thinks about Nikolai and his passionate nature and debts.
- When Levin sees Nikolai, he is shocked at how sick and thin Nikolai is.
- Nikolai is drunk and defensive, and introduces Levin gruffly to his girlfriend, Maria (whom he claims he rescued from a brothel), and invites Levin to stay for supper. Levin accepts.
- Nikolai angrily tells Levin about the locksmith corporation he is going to start in the country because the peasants are treated like beasts, and make no money for themselves, but only for their employers.
- The two brothers talk about the family estate, and Nikolai tells Levin that Levin has chosen Sergei, their other brother, over him.
- He becomes angrier and angrier, and Maria eventually takes the vodka away from him and puts him to bed.
- The next morning Levin leaves Moscow and returns to his farm. Once there he is greeted by his former nurse, now housekeeper, Agatha Mihalovna, greets him, and his bailiff comes and gives him the news on the farm.
- Levin goes and sees the calf that was just born, deals with some other business and then goes upstairs to the drawing room.
- He and Agatha go and sit upstairs.
- He tries to read, she sits and talks, he winds up fantasizing about his ideal wife and marriage, and then feels bad about what happened with Kitty.
- Agatha tells him she can see that he’s in low spirits.
- Anna decides to leave Moscow, and confesses to Dolly that she and Vronsky were making eyes at each other and that she upset Kitty.
- Dolly says she never liked Vronsky for Kitty anyway.
- The two women get weepy about how much they love one another.
- On the train Anna tries to read but winds up thinking about Vronsky, and then going into a strange sort of out-of-body state, and decides to go out onto the balcony-esque end of the carriage and get some air.
- Outside it is stormy, and suddenly Vronsky appears and says he has followed her, to be where she is.
- She freaks out for a moment and runs away.
- When she arrives at the station, she sees her husband, and notices how weirdly shaped his ears are.
- She notices his smile is lame, the way he looks at stuff is boring, and his voice is wimpy. Needless to say, she is not happy to see him.
- Vronsky doesn’t sleep at all after he sees Anna, and when he gets off the train in Petersburg, he watches Anna with Karenin and notices that all her animation is gone, and decides that she doesn’t love her husband.
- He walks close and sees how she lights up when she sees him.
- He shakes hands with Karenin, and goes on his way. Karenin and Anna head home.
- Anna greets her son when she gets home, but is disappointed in him, too, thinking that the idea of him was better than the reality of him.
- Countess Lydia Ivanovna shows up, and talks to Anna for a while about churches and other fun stuff, and Anna feels bored and unhappy, and thinks about Vronsky.
- Karenin goes back to life as usual, every moment scheduled and hardly any time for Anna.
- He goes to his council and Anna stays with her son.
- Karenin comes back and goes to his study to read, as he always does, and then the two of them go to bed when he decides it is time to go.
- Anna feels that all the life has gone out of her.
- Vronsky goes to his Petersburg house, which he has let his friend, the young lieutenant Petritsky (who is broke and always drunk) stay in.
- The two men laugh and catch up on gossip, and Vronsky leaves again to be social and get himself back into the social circles where he will be most likely to bump into Anna.
- Kitty, who has been sick, is poked and prodded by two different doctors, one of which tells her parents to take her abroad, the other who tells her to drink special water. Kitty and her mother in the end, decide to go abroad.
- Dolly arrives at Kitty’s house, and is sad to learn that Kitty and the princess (Dolly’s sister) will be leaving her. (Dolly has also given birth to another child.)
- Everyone is very strung out and stressed out, and both Kitty and her mother end up crying.
- Dolly tells the princess that she suspects that Kitty is not only upset about Vronsky dumping her, but also about having refused Levin.
- Dolly goes in to talk to Kitty about everything. Kitty tells her she feels awful and miserable about everything, and is frustrated that her parents think the cure is to marry her off to someone else.
- She begs to be allowed to come stay with Dolly and help her take care of her children who have all come down with Scarlet fever.
- Kitty’s health still does not improve, and after Lent, the Shcherbatskys go abroad.
- In Petersburg, Anna spends a lot of time with Princess Betsy Tverskoy, who is Vronsky’s cousin, because she sees Vronsky more when she does.
- At the opera one night, Betsy and Vronsky talk about how in love Vronsky is. He says he is afraid that he’s acting like an idiot.
- Vronsky tells Betsy a story about a problem with two young men from his regiment. He then goes over to the French theatre to discuss the matter further with a colonel.
- After the theatre Princess Betsy has a party at her house. She and some other guests gossip about everyone, including Anna and Vronsky, saying that women like Anna come to a bad end. Vronsky arrives and begins a discussion of the French opera.
- Anna enters, Vronsky is thrilled. The two sit and try to talk secretly.
- He declares his love, she tries to push him away, but he can tell that she loves him, too.
- Karenin enters, and seeing Anna and Vronksy, joins in another conversation. After an hour, Karenin wants to leave and suggests to Anna that she leave with him. She says no. He leaves.
- Karenin is upset about Vronsky and Anna. He decides that he will talk to her about her moral and social duties as a wife and why she cannot continue behaving like this any more.
- Karenin tries to talk to her about Vronsky, telling her that she is being talked about in society, and that if anything was going on, she should tell him. She tells him she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s angry and goes to bed.
- From that time on, their relationship is totally altered.
- They look the same on the outside, but they are distant and removed from each other, and Anna continues to go to Betsy’s and see Vronsky.
- After almost a year, Anna and Vronsky finally hook up, with lots of crying and drama and guilt on her part.
- Levin, back on his farm, still feels embarrassed when he thinks about what happened with Kitty.
- Spring arrives, Levin gets a letter from Maria, saying that Nikolai is very sick.
- Levin goes to Moscow to see him and persuades Nikolai to go abroad, and then returns to his farm.
- Levin also works at writing a book on agriculture.
- Levin has lots to do on the farm, and he is annoyed at the "slovenliness" of the peasant workers on his farm, and how they never do anything when and how he wants it done. But as he rides around the farm, he feels happier.
- When Levin gets back to the house, he is excited to find that Oblonsky has come to visit, and do some bird shooting.
- Oblonsky is also selling a section of forest to a man that Levin knows.
- Oblonsky tells Levin he is now having an affair with a different woman.
- Levin doesn’t understand him and his women.
- The two men go out shooting, and Levin is annoyed that Oblonsky shoots more than he does.
- Finally Levin can’t take it any more and asks about Kitty.
- He is devastated when he hears that she is sick, but then gets over it as they shoot more birds.
- The two men drive back to the house, and Levin is secretly happy to learn that Kitty is not yet engaged to someone else, and that there still may be a chance for him.
- He then gets annoyed because Oblonsky is getting paid less for the forest than it is worth, and because Oblonsky doesn’t seem to care.
- Ryabinin comes to buy the forest and Levin sulks and stomps around in protest (mature, no?).
- Oblonsky makes the sale, and Levin stays in a bad mood about everything.
- Oblonsky tells Levin he was stupid about Kitty, and that he should come back to Moscow and try again, but Levin of course says no.
- Levin then talks about how Vronsky doesn’t come from many generations of honorable people like Levin does.
- Vronsky and Anna’s affair is public knowledge, and Vronky refuses a promotion so that he can stay where he is and remain near Anna. He also takes up horseracing (!?)
- The morning of the race, Vronsky goes to the officers’ mess to have his breakfast. There he meets up with his best friend in the regiment, Yashvin, a gambler and a rake.
- Vronsky and Yashvin go to Vronsky’s hut in camp where Petritsky also lives.
- He is woken by the two, and tells Vronsky that His brother came by with a note for him.
- The note is from his mother, scolding him for not coming by to see her. He decides to go to the stable to see his horse first.
- He goes to the stable and admires his horse, Frou-Frou, that he will ride in the steeplechase.
- Both Vronsky and the horse are very nervous and excited. Vronsky leaves to run another errand.
- Vronsky goes to Anna’s house, making sure that Karenin is not there.
- Vronsky thinks about how Anna’s son always looks at him in a confused way.
- Today he finds her alone. She is upset and tells him that she is pregnant with his child.
- Vronsky tells her that she must leave her husband.
- She says that she can’t, because it will ruin her and her son’s name, and she doesn’t want to run away with him and become his mistress.
- Her son then comes home, and she tells Vronsky that they will meet later that night.
- Vronsky returns to the stables and prepares for the race. His brother, Alexander, comes to see him and gives him a hard time about turning down the army post for Anna.
- Vronsky tells him to mind his own business, and Alexander leaves. Vronsky gets on his horse and waits for the race to begin.
- Details of the horse race. Vronsky is winning, aware that Anna and Karenin are in the stands watching him. Vronsky makes a mistake while the horse goes over the water jump, and he breaks the horse’s back. The horse must be shot, and Vronsky goes home feeling miserable.
- All this time, Karenin and Anna have been living in separate residences, Anna in the "country house," and Karenin in town.
- He goes to see her once a week to keep up appearances. The morning of the races he sees his doctor who says that his liver is enlarged and he needs to exercise more.
- Karenin and Anna have an uncomfortable reunion at the house, and the two leave for the races separately.
- Once at the races, Anna basically ignores Karenin and cannot take her eyes off Vronsky as he races. Karenin watches her watching Vronsky, and Anna can feel him watching her, but she keeps doing it.
- When Vronsky and his horse falls, Anna flips out, and Karenin tries three times to make her leave with him before she does.
- In the carriage, Karenin tells her that she behaved badly in public, and that she must do a better job of hiding her affair from the public eye. She dissolves in tears and can only think about Vronsky.
- Meanwhile, Kitty, her mom and pop are in Germany, where Kitty meets a young girl her age named Varenka, who takes care of a woman named Madame Stahl.
- Kitty and Varenka pass each other often and want to be friends. At this same retreat, Nikolai Levin and Maria suddenly appear.
- Kitty finally gets introduced to Varenka, and the two immediately like each other.
- Kitty learns that Madame Stahl, who always had emotional problems, years ago gave birth to a baby who died almost immediately. Rather than tell her, members of her household gave her instead, the newborn daughter of the head cook. Madame Stahl soon learned the truth, but still raised Varenka as her own.
- Kitty and Varenka become close friends, and Varenka sings for Kitty’s family and some invited guests. The two girls share their lost-love stories with each other.
- Kitty also gets close to Madame Stahl, and through her discovers religion. She decides to help the other sick people around her, and decides that she wants to continue helping people and spreading the gospel.
- Kitty’s father, who had gone to Russia for a bit, returns to his wife and daughter in Germany and is happy to see Kitty feeling better. He meets and likes Varenka., and Kitty introduces him to the other invalids, including Madame Stahl.
- Her father’s arrival suddenly changes the way Kitty feels about Varenka and Madame Stahl, and Kitty realizes that her plans to help the sick and give them religion will never happen.
- She gets upset when she finds out that one of the invalids has fallen in love with her and that his wife is upset because of it.
- She and her family return to Moscow, Kitty feeling much better than she did when she left.
- Levin’s brother Sergei comes to stay with Levin at the end of May.
- Levin notices that he and his brother frequently argue about the peasantry, and Levin feels that his brother always wins, because he has definite ideas about the peasants, whereas Levin does not.
- Levin is frustrated because while Sergei is there on vacation, Levin has lots of work to do.
- In early June, Sergei one night decides he wants to go fishing. Levin takes him, but is anxious to get to work making plans to start mowing his fields the next day.
- Sergei and Levin sit and argue about the peasants.
- Sergei says it’s Levin’s responsibility to help create schools and hospitals for the peasants to improve their lives, but Levin doesn’t see the point, saying why should he waste his time helping to establish schools and hospitals that he himself will never benefit from, and that will never really change the peasants lives anyway.
- Levin decides that he is going to go out in the field this year and mow alongside the peasants.
- The next morning Levin joins with the peasants, who thinks he’s a little strange, but are kind to him nonetheless. Levin is exhausted by the work, but he follows along and keeps up.
- The mowing continues, and Levin keeps up. They make such good time, they finish two fields. Levin feels great, and eats and drinks with the peasants.
- When finished, Levin goes home, filthy and sweaty. The two eat dinner together, and a letter from Oblonsky arrives saying that Dolly is in a house in a town 25 Miles from Levin, and is having a hard time, and wants to know if Levin would go see her and help her.
- Oblonsky had gone to Petersburg, to try and improve his job possibilities, and Dolly and the kids had gone to the country house to cut down on expenses.
- The house is a total wreck, and Oblonsky was supposed to have fixed things before she arrived, but he really didn’t.
- When Dolly and the kids first get there everything is a disaster. But one of the women on her staff works her butt off and manages to get everything fixed, and Dolly begins to feel happy.
- Oblonsky promises Dolly that he will come visit her, but he doesn’t, and Dolly stays on alone.
- At the end of May, Dolly takes the children to church that he full of mostly peasants, and Dolly thinks about how charming her children are.
- Later they all go to pick mushrooms and then bathe in the river. Some peasant women are there too, and Dolly and the women talk about the children.
- Dolly arrives home to find Levin there. She is thrilled to see him, and how well he plays with the children. She tells him that Kitty is coming to stay with her for the summer. Levin changes the subject.
- Dolly tries to persuade Levin to come see Kitty when she arrives, and Levin says he won’t.
- Dolly tries to explain to him how confused Kitty was when Levin proposed, but Levin just gets upset.
- But inside him, the hope of being with Kitty returns.
- Dolly gets upset because her children have a fight, and Levin thinks that his children will never behave like that.
- In the middle of July, Levin goes to his sister’s estate to meet with the elder of the village for a report on the hay harvest -- in part because Levin suspects that the peasants are not being honest about the amount of hay mown, since they work in exchange for a third of the crop.
- Levin sorts things out, and spends some time with the elder, Parmenich and his family.
- Levin watches Parmenich’s son and new wife together, and is envious of their love.
- Levin thinks about how happy the peasants seem.
- Levin stays in the field all night, thinking about what he should do with his life.
- He is walking along, when a carriage goes by. He catches sight of Kitty inside, and he realizes that he is still in love with her.
- Karenin thinks about what to do now that Anna has confessed her relations with Vronsky.
- He thinks about fighting a duel with Vronsky or divorcing Anna but says no to both. A divorce would lead to a public scandal and then would allow Anna to be happy with Vronsky.
- Karenin wants to deal with things quietly and punish Anna. He decides that he will tell her that she must stop seeing Vronsky.
- Karenin writes Anna a letter, telling her that he will not divorce her and that she must stop seeing Vronsky, and also must return to Petersburg. That done, he continues with his work.
- Anna wakes up the morning after confessing to her husband and starts freaking out wondering what will happen to her.
- She starts thinking that Vronsky has stopped loving her and finds her a burden.
- She feels better when she sees her son and thinks that at least she will always have him. She then decides she will go to Moscow immediately. She tries to write letters to her husband and to Vronsky, but can’t seem to do it.
- Karenin’s letter arrives, which makes Anna flip out more, in large part because Karenin threatens to take her son away from her if she doesn’t leave Vronsky. She decides she has to talk to Vronsky, and heads over to Princess Betsy’s.
- Anna gets to Betsy’s only to remember that Vronsky had told her the day before that he was not coming to Betsy’s croquet party.
- Betsy sees that Anna is upset, and she writes a note to Vronsky asking him to dinner, then leaves the room and asks Anna to seal the letter for her, giving Anna a chance to write a note to Vronsky in which she begs him to meet her that night at 6:00.
- Anna stays at the party and compares fashion with the other ladies there and listens as they gossip about others’ scandals.
- Vronsky, the morning after the races, calculates his debts and tries to think about how to get out of them. He thinks about how his mother hinted that she would give him more money if he would leave Anna.
- Vronsky thinks about the whole Anna thing. And how up until now the situation had seemed clear cut, but now Anna being pregnant changes things. He also thinks about his career ambitions, and how other fellow comrades of his have advanced and he has not. But he thinks of the love he has with Anna and decides he is not envious of others.
- Vronsky goes to a party for his comrade, Serpuhovskoy, who has been promoted, and the two talk.
- Serpuhovskoy hints that he knows about Anna and Vronsky’s affair, and then tells Vronsky that the army and government needs a man like him, a man who was born rich, and doesn’t need to make policy and have government jobs so that he can earn money. Anna’s note arrives for Vronsky and he immediately leaves to go meet her.
- He meets Anna, and she tells him that she told her husband about the their affair. She hopes he will say leave everything and come live with me, but when he doesn’t, she assumes that he is resentful of her and she gets cranky. After a few moments, he does beg her to leave her husband and come with him. She says that then she would have to leave her son and can’t do that. They both cry, and wonder if there could be a way for her to divorce Karenin and still keep her son. She says she will try, and then they leave each other.
- Anna returns to Karenin’s house in Petersburg, and he at first ignores her. Finally she goes in to see him, and he tells her that he expects her to stop seeing Vronsky and behave in a way that doesn’t embarrass him. That they will act as they have always acted, and pretend to be happily married.
- Levin is frustrated still by the fact that the peasants don’t work the way he wants them to, and tortured by the fact that Kitty is so near to him and he can’t take it.
- Dolly sends him a letter asking him if he will bring over a side-saddle for Kitty.
- He sends the saddle without a reply, and sets out on a shooting expedition.
- On the way, Levin stops at the house of a peasant, who had managed to buy his own land, and rent some of it out to others to work and then work the rest for himself with his family. Levin is really struck by this.
- Levin arrives at his friend Sviazhsky’s, who is the marshal of the district. Sviazhsky’s sister-in-law lives with him, and Levin knows that the Sviazhsky’s want him marry her. He is very uncomfortable by the whole situation, and after the shooting, at dinner, he excuses himself from her company, and goes to sit with the other men instead.
- The men argue about the best way to run a farm and deal with the peasants: whether it’s to rent the land out, or give them a third of the profits, etc. Levin loves these talks and could have them all night, but tends to bore other with it, and the other men eventually leave him.
- Later that evening Levin and Sviazhsky talk again about the peasants.
- Sviazsky believes that what the peasants need is education, but Levin disagrees because schools will make them want things in life that they cannot have.
- Later, Levin thinks that what he needs to do is divide the fields in half, and give the peasants half of what is grown. He’s so excited he goes home early the next morning.
- Levin encounters some resistance from the peasants in carrying out his new plan, and finds that, in the end, they still will not do the work that Levin asks him to.
- He feels that the European ideas of agriculture do not apply to Russia. He decides to write a book about how the Russian peasants’ ways of working (ways which they will not change) are better than most might think.
- At the end of September, Levin decides to go on a trip abroad to look at agricultural systems in other provinces. He thinks again of Kitty, and Agatha tells him he shouldn’t waste time on peasants, but should get married. Suddenly a visitor arrives.
- The visitor is his brother Nikolai, who is sicker than before. He announces that he will stay with Levin for a month or two. Levin lets him share his own warm room, and panics about how his brother will soon die, and about his own mortality.
- Levin and his brother argue about Levin’s agricultural idea, and Nikolai decides to leave, begging Levin not to think badly of him. Levin sets off for his tour abroad, obsessed with the thought of dying.
- Anna and her husband live together, but not as husband and wife.
- She goes out every day to be with Vronsky. In the middle of winter, Vronsky has to entertain a foreign prince who is visiting Petersburg. He is annoyed by it, and when he gets home there is a note from Anna saying that she is ill and miserable and he must come see her between 7 and 10pm, when Karenin will be at a meeting.
- Vronksy arrives at her house, and bumps into Karenin, who is on his way out. The two stare at each other, and say nothing. Karenin leaves and Vronsky goes to Anna. Anna is flipping out, saying she can’t go on like this, she has been waiting for him for so long, etc. (get ready, there is A LOT more of this sort of thing to come).
- Anna is flipping out still with jealousy and suspicions about where he was and who he was with. He pacifies her finally, and she criticizes Karenin and his pretending to ignore everything.
- She says she would give anything to be able to love Vronsky freely. She tells him of a dream she has in which someone told her she will die in childbirth.
- Karenin comes home later that evening, and demands that she give him her love letters, and tells her that he will leave tomorrow to go to Moscow and will never return, and is going to find a divorce lawyer. He will also take their son to his sister’s. Anna begs Karenin to let her keep the boy, but Karenin refuses.
- Karenin goes to a lawyer to find about getting a divorce.
- The lawyer tells him that a divorce may only be had if 1) the husband or wife has a physical defect 2) one of the spouses has left the other without contact for 5 years; 3) or adultery. In the case of adultery, either both parties must agree to admit it (but Karenin has religious objections to that), or the adultery must be proved by letters and eyewitness accounts. Karenin tells the man he will think about it and will get back to him.
- Karenin goes to Moscow on business, and bumps into Oblonsky and Dolly, who ask about Anna (having no idea what has happened), and invite Karenin to dinner. Karenin gates away as fast as he can.
- The next day Oblonsky goes and see a young ballerina, his latest affair, and then goes to a hotel, where Levin, Karenin, and the new head of Oblonsky’s department are all staying. Levin talks to him about his recent journey, and that he can’t stop thinking about death. Levin wants to know about Kitty, but doesn’t ask, and Oblonsky doesn’t tell him that she is coming to the same dinner that Levin is.
- Karenin, in his hotel room, writes a letter to the lawyer to tell him to do what he thinks is best, and he includes three of Vronsky’s letters to Anna.
- Oblonsky comes in, and is devastated when he learns that Karenin is going to be divorcing Anna, begs him to reconsider and begs him to come to dinner. Karenin says he will come to dinner.
- The dinner part is underway, and Levin enters.
- With surprise he sees Kitty, and goes over to her. The two of them get all red-faced and flirty, and only have eyes for each other.
- They are all moony and Oblonsky sits them next to each other for the meal.
- The dinner conversation turns to different kinds of education, and then to the education of women and the rights that women are seeking and to the question of whether or not women are "capable" of handling such duties.
- Levin and Kitty are too absorbed in each other to participate in the conversation. He tells her how he saw her in the carriage that day.
- Karenin starts to leave, but Dolly stops him and asks him what is happening with Anna.
- He tells her everything and Dolly, with lots of tears, sighs, oh no’s and gasps, says no no it can’t be and begs him to pity Anna and not divorce her. Karenin is unmoved and leaves. Or, rather, he is moved, but makes himself be unmoved.
- Kitty and Levin talk again, and while they are talking, Kitty has been drawing on the table with chalk(!).
- The two of them then start talking about what happened in the past.
- But they don’t actually talk about it, instead they write the first letter of each word in a sentence, such as I, l, u, (I love you), and through a strange Russian Vulcan mind-meld thing, manage to understand exactly what the other is saying.
- In this way, they declare their love for each other, he asks her to marry him, and she says yes. Levin agrees to come by the next morning, and by then she will have told her parents about him.
- Kitty leaves, and Oblonsky and Dolly are thrilled for Levin. Levin is so wired , he goes with his brother to a meeting, then stays up all night, watching the sky in front of an open window until the sun rises.
- Levin goes to Kitty’s house, but it’s too early so he goes back to his hotel, and is moved by watching the life of the city unfold beneath his window. Finally he goes to Kitty’s, and Kitty’s parents give their blessing to the marriage.
- They all sit down and Kitty’s parents start to plan the wedding, keeping everything with tradition and social custom.
- Levin would like to get married tomorrow, but Kitty’s mother convinces him to do things as she suggests.
- Levin (for some reason) decides that he must give Kitty his diary, so that she will know everything about him and still love him.
- He wants her to know that he has slept with other women and that he doesn’t believe in God. She reads it and cries and wonders why the hell he gave it to her to read, but says she still loves him anyway.
- After Dolly’s dinner, Karenin returns to his room to find two telegrams. One tells him that he has lost a promotion he was hoping to get. The second is from Anna saying she is dying and begging him come home.
- He rushes back, and hears that Anna gave birth to a girl yesterday, and then came down with an infection and has a fever and might be dying. Vronsky is there, crying. He goes in to her room, and she is so fevered she does not recognize him at first. When she does, she begs him to forgive her, and makes him and Vronsky hold hands.
- Everyone is crying and convinced she is dying. Karenin and Vronsky talk privately, and Karenin says he has forgiven her and now believes that it is his job to stand by her and that if she wants to see Vronsky, Karenin will let him know., but for now Vronsky should leave.
- Vronsky returns home and is out of his mind. All he can think about is Anna and wanting her and not being able to be with her. He is so far gone, he shoots himself. He doesn’t die, he wounds himself, and Varya, his brother’s wife comes and nurses him.
- Two months later, Anna has not died, but is getting better, and Karenin doesn’t know what to do, because he realizes that really nothing has changed in his and Anna’s relationship.
- Princess Betsy comes to visit and in front of her Anna tells her husband that Vronsky is going away, and that before he goes he wants to come and say good-bye to Anna . Betsy asks him to let Vrosky come, and Karenin replies that it is Anna’s choice, and Betsy leaves.
- Anna and Karenin fight about whether Vronsky should be allowed to come.
- Karenin tells her that the baby has been sick, and Anna freaks out and keeps saying Why didn’t I die?
- Karenin starts to think that maybe he should let them start up their affair again, and that he would rather do that than divorce her.
- On her way out, Betsy runs into Oblonsky who is on his way out. She tells him how upset Anna is, and he goes in to see her. Anna cries to him, and Oblonsky tells her that a divorce would solve everything, but Anna keeps moaning about how she is lost and all there is left for her to do is die.
- Oblonsky goes to talk to Karenin. Karenin shows him a letter he was writing to Anna in which he tells her that he will do whatever will make her happy. Oblonsky tells him that she is in no position to decide what she wants and that Karenin should take care of things. Oblonsky tries to encourage Karenin to get a divorce. Karenin is unwilling to lie and say that he was an adulterer, and he doesn’t want to embarrass Anna by making public her and Vronsky’s letters. He does not want Seriohza to be raised by an illegitimate couple (which Anna and Vronsky would be), and he feels he would be ruining Anna if he divorced her and let her live in sin with Vronsky (according to church law, a divorced woman cannot remarry while her husband is living). Thinking of this dilemma, Karenin sits down and cries.
- Vronsky, getting better, takes a post away from Anna so he can get on with his life.
- Betsy comes and tells him that Oblonsky has told her that Karenin has consented to a divorce, and Vronsky may go see Anna. He runs to her and she of course is crying.
- Anna says she does not want Karenin’s divorce, and only wants to know what he will do about Seriozha.
- Vronsky decides to refuse the post offered him, and a month later, he and Anna leave Karenin and Seriozha, and go with their daughter to live together abroad.
- In preparation for the wedding, Levin must go to confession, so he and Kitty can get married in the church.
- At confession, Levin tells the priest that his chief sin is doubt; that he doubts, even the existence of God.
- The priest tells him that he must believe, so that when his children ask him about the world, he must have some way to answer them, and not leave them to the devil.
- The day of the wedding, Levin (in keeping with the whole "the groom can’t see the bride before the wedding" thing), hangs out with his brother (not Nikolai) and some other friends.
- They tease him about losing his freedom, and he scoffs at them, thinking of how happy he is and how well he knows Kitty. But then, of course, he thinks that maybe he doesn’t really know her, and soon she will realize she’s made a mistake, etc.
- Levin, in a fit of passion, runs to Kitty and tells her he’s not worthy of her, she can still back out. They both cry and then kiss and make up, and Levin leaves her so she can dress for the wedding.
- Levin is late to his own wedding because of a mix-up with his clothes!
- Wedding ceremony. Very long, very religious ceremony.
- Levin thinks about how amazing this moment is, and how huge an undertaking marriage is.
- He looks at Kitty and knows that she is feeling the same way about how important and meaningful the words of the ceremony are.
- In reality, though, she isn’t hearing a word of the ceremony. She is too busy feeling joyous and complete.
- During the first part (!) of the ceremony, conversation never stops among the guests; they talk about what everyone’s wearing and reminisce about their own weddings.
. Finally, they exchange vows
- The wedding ceremony lasts forever! As part of the tradition, a piece of rose silk is placed on the floor, and the couple must step on it as they follow the priest to the lectern.
- The saying goes that the person who steps on it first will be the head of the house. Levin and Kitty step on it at the same time (awww) and with crowns and rings they are married! After dinner the newlyweds head for the country.
- Meanwhile, Vronsky and Anna have been travelling in Europe together for three months, and have stopped in a small town in Italy, where they plan to stay a while.
- One of Vronsky’s friends from the corps shows up out of the blue to say hello. For Vronsky, it is always awkward to figure out if outsiders understand his relationship with Anna and are all right with it.
- But Vronsky introduces his friend, Golenischev, to Anna, and he is immediately bewitched, and the three decide to go to see the palazzo that Vronsky and Anna are going to be living in.
- Anna thinks about how happy she is with Vronsky, even though she has lost her son and her good name. She thinks about how she loves Vronsky more every day, and how she feels inferior and unworthy of him, and how if he knew how inferior she was, he would stop loving her.
- She feels guilty that he gave up his ambition and career for him.
- Vronsky, on the other hand, is not completely happy. He realizes that having Anna all to himself is not all that he thought it would be, and he is basically bored out of his mind with nothing to do. He has taken up painting to pass the time.
- Anna, Vronsky and Golenischev look around the palazzo and start talking about art, and about a local artist.
- Vronsky decides they should go look at his work and ask him to paint a portrait of Anna (Vronsky himself has painted one of her). They all agree to go that very moment.
- Mihailov, the artist, is in his studio working when the three visitors arrive.
- He is working on a drawing and finishes what he’s doing before going out to meet his guests.
- He studies Anna and Vronsky’s physical features, and invites them in to look at his work.
- Mihailov assumes that Anna and Vronsky are snooty richies who know nothing about art.
- Inside himself he has an attack of insecurity and paranoia and assumes that they hate his work. But in fact they love it and notice things about it that give him great joy.
- Vronsky and Anna fall in love with a painting of two young boys fishing.
- Vronsky asks to buy it, but Mihailov doesn’t want to at first. The three Russians leave, and Vronsky keeps talking about how he must have that painting.
- In the end, Vronsky does buy it, and Mihailov comes to paint Anna’s portrait.
- Mihailov gets tired of all of them blabbing to him their opinions on art, and Vronsky showing him his own paintings, and is glad when he finishes the portrait.
- The Russians are also glad, because Mihailov seemed, to them, grumpy and sullen.
- Vronsky stops painting himself, and suddenly he and Anna are bored out of their minds.
- They decide to return to Russia and spend the summer on Vronsky’s family estate.
- Levin, married now for three months, realizes (duh!) that marriage is harder than he thought it would be.
- Kitty comes in and takes over the house and gets upset when things are not just right.
- She and Agatha have a little power struggle happening between them, and Kitty flips out and cries when Levin goes out and stays later than expected. Of course, she is sitting home alone waiting for him. They spend four months in Moscow, and then return to the country, to Levin’s estate.
- Back on the farm, Levin resumes his work on his book of fabulous ideas about agriculture, but gets distracted by Kitty and their happiness.
- But he then, of course, starts thinking that he’s not doing any work, but is just sitting around being happy and smoochy with Kitty, and he must focus on work more.
- He and Kitty go in for tea, and to read letters that have arrived.
- There is a letter for Levin from Maria, His brother Nikolai’s mistress, telling Levin that she is with Nikolai in Moscow and he is dying.
- Levin says he will go to him. Kitty wants to go, Levin says no, Kitty freaks out, Kitty sobs, Levin gives in. They leave the next morning.
- Levin and Kitty arrive at the inn where his brother is.
- Levin is annoyed because he is having to look after Kitty rather that his brother, and Maria is ashamed to have Kitty see her (a fallen woman).
- In the end, Levin goes to see his brother and is horrified by how sick and skinny he is. Kitty demands to be taken to see Nikolai, and is very nice to him.
- Levin has no idea how to deal with his brother, but Kitty, having worked at the hospital with Vraenka in Germany, knows exactly what to do and takes over.
- She has Nikolai’s room cleaned, his sheets changed, Nikolai is bathed, everything made nicer for him.
- Levin can only cry and leave the room every now and then.
- Nikolai loves Kitty and feels like he might recover, even though everyone else knows that that’s not going to happen.
- Levin is grateful to Kitty for coming.
Chapter 20 - Death (note that this is the only chapter in the whole book with a title)
- The next day, a priest arrives, and gives Nikolai the sacrament and extreme unction.
- All day and night Nikolai moans and gasps and gets cold and says he’s going, but still he lives.
- At one point his eyes are closed but he seems to be having a conversation with someone, and seems greatly relieved and comforted.
- The next morning he is still alive and everyone is sitting there waiting for him to die.
- He continues to suffer and suffer. Kitty herself gets ill and has to lie down.
- Finally he is dying and the priest comes and says prayers over him.
- The priest says he’s gone, but no! Nikolai says "not yet" and lasts a little longer before dying.
- Levin again, despairs about death and how everyone must die, but thinks about how love is saving him from despair.
- The doctor later tells him that Kitty is Pregnant.
- Karenin is lonely and isolated without Anna. He doesn’t have any male friends, and all women are distasteful to him.
- One of the women he knows, Countess Lydia Ivanovna, who has always wanted him, starts coming around more and more to see if she can "help" him get over Anna.
- She encourages him to seek help in God and religion.
- She offers to be his housekeeper and help him take care of Seriozha. She isn’t a very good housekeeper, but he is happy to have God and religion to turn to.
- The Countess’s Backstory: She was married very young to some jerk who left her after two months.
- They’re not divorced (that, after all, might look bad!), but they don’t live together.
- The Countess basically falls in love with different people every few months.
- Now Karenin is the "real thing." She’s upset when she hears Anna and Vronksy are back in town.
- A letter comes from Anna begging the Countess to help her arrange a meeting with her son.
- The Countess sends back no answer, and then writes to Karenin that she must speak to him.
- Karenin doesn’t realize that his career is essentially over, and he keeps trying to write policy.
- The countess meets him at his work, and the two discuss Seriozha, and she says she sees Karenin’s heart in him.
- The Countess tells him she has gotten a letter from Anna.
- Karenin and the Countess go back to her house, and she shows him the letter.
- Karenin wants to let Anna see Seriozha, but the Countess convinces him not to, by saying it would be too hard on Seriozha (especially since they have told him that Anna is dead!).
- The Countess sends Anna a letter saying she can’t see Seriozha because it would be too hard on him.
- It is the day before Seriozha’s birthday, and he is excited because he had a nice walk, and learned that his father has won a very prestigious prize.
- He doesn’t do well in his school lessons, though, and then feels sad and wonders why no one loves him. (Apparently, it starts young with these Russians).
- After his lesson with his tutor, Karenin comes to do his bible lesson with him.
- Seriozha is thinking about Anna, and how he misses her and doesn’t believe she is dead, and hopes that tomorrow for his birthday, his mother will come see him.
- Vronsky and Anna discover in Petersburg that the society they once belonged to still shuns them (well, really, her) for being an unmarried couple with a baby while she is still married to Karenin.
- Vronsky’s cousin, Betsy, and sister-in-law, Varya, say they will come and see Anna, but will not invite Anna to their homes.
- After two days, Anna finally goes to her old house.
- Karenin is not awake yet, and the hall porter lets her go upstairs and wake Seriozha. Mother and son have a tearful reunion.
- The household is in a panic, trying to figure out what will happen if Karenin wakes up and finds Anna there with Seriozha.
- Seriozha’s nurse goes in and tells Anna that Karenin will soon be coming and as Anna is leaving, Karenin comes in and looks at her in silence. She feels hate for him and leaves.
- Back at her and Vronsky’s hotel, she feels lonely and miserable.
- She thinks of Vronsky as the cause of her misery and how now he avoids her and stays away from her and doesn’t love her anymore.
- When Vronsky does return he is with Yashvin, and she is jealous that he has his friends and she has no one.
- She asks Yashvin and Vronsky to eat dinner with her, he accepts, but first he and Vronsky must go out.
- She tries to tell Vronsky how miserable he is, and how she wants to leave Petersburg. Vronsky says he’s miserable too and leaves.
- When Vronsky comes back, Anna is not there.
- When Anna does come back she’s with the Princess Oblonsky.
- Princess Betsy, who was also supposed to come to dinner sends a message to Anna saying that she can’t come, but asks Anna to come by her house at a very specific time (so that no one else will be there to see Betsy talking to Anna). Anna says she can’t go see her at that time.
- She decides she’d like to go to the opera like she used to. Vronsky tries to discourage her, but Anna freaks out and goes anyway.
- Vronsky pouts for a while after Anna leaves, but then goes to the opera.
- He can tell that everyone is staring at Anna, and he sees from a distance that the Kartasovs, who are in the box next to Anna, are leaving their box, looking pissed, and Anna and those in her box are trying to act like nothing has happened.
- Vronsky goes to his brother’s box and finds out that Madame Kartasov wouldn’t sit near such a "bad" woman, and because her husband was actually talking to Anna(!), and tells Anna it is a disgrace to sit next to her.
- When Anna and Vronsky get home Anna freaks out and says that Vronsky doesn’t love her the way she loves him. He reassures her, they make up, the next day they leave for the country.
- Dolly and her children, Kitty’s mother, Kitty’s friend, Varenka, and Levin’s brother, Koznyshev, are all staying with Kitty and Levin at their country estate for the summer.
- Kitty is very pregnant, and everyone keeps telling her to sit down all the time.
- There is a romance going on between Varenka and Koznyshev, and Kitty hopes, when the kids, Varenka, and Koznyshev set out for mushroom hunting one night after dinner, that he will pop the question.
- Kitty, her mother, and Dolly all sit on the porch after dinner, talking about the hoped-for engagement, and making sure Agatha makes the jam just the way Kitty wants her to.
- They talk about proposals, and how Anna saved Kitty from Vronsky.
- Levin enters and the women stop talking, and he’s annoyed because they don’t want to include him in their conversation. Then Kitty and Levin set off to go get Vraenka and Dolly’s children.
- Levin and Kitty walk alone together, while the others follow in the carriage.
- Levin tells her that Koznyshev was once in love with a young woman who died, and that he has been unable to love since. Levin says Koznyshev is devoted to work, and Levin envies that, because Levin used to be that way, too, but now all he cares about is Kitty.
- Meanwhile, while they all pick mushrooms, Koznyshev thinks about whether or not he wants to propose.
- He feels guilty because he had always promised to stay true to the memory of Marie, the woman who died, and had never found any woman who could compare to her. But now he thinks, what the hell, and goes toward Varenka.
- He plans out how he will ask her to marry him as he walks, but when he gets to her, instead he asks her about mushrooms, and the moment is gone.
- He changes his mind and decides he wants to stay true to Marie. Levin and Kitty arrive, and Kitty can tell from looking at Varenka, that the proposal didn’t happen.
- Everyone goes back to the house and waits for Oblonsky to arrive.
- When he does, he brings with him one of Kitty’s distant cousins, Veslovsky, who is a "dashing young man."
- Levin, of course has a split personality moment, and suddenly hates Veslovsky, and the way he kisses Kitty’s hand and the way she seems happy to see him. He also then decides to hate Kitty’s mother and Varenka, because they are happy to see Veslovsky.
- Levin stays away from everyone until dinner time, and is grumpy with Kitty.
- Oblonsky and Veslovsky talk to Dolly and Kitty about Anna, whom Veslovsky has been to visit (Anna and Vronsky are only 50 miles away from Levin).
- Kitty asks Levin if he and Oblonsky are going shooting tomorrow, and Levin is convinced that she wants him out of the house so she can be alone with Veslovsky. But when Veslovsky announces he will join them in hunting, Levin is annoyed by that, as well.
- Later he yells at Kitty for flirting with him. He’s upset, she’s upset, they make up (it never ends).
- The next morning Oblonsky, Levin, and Veslovsky go hunting.
- Levin is in a better mood, and feels more friendly toward Veslovsky. He hopes that neither Veslovsky nor Oblonsky will outdo him in shooting.
- The three get out of the carriage in one spot, and Levin is about to make a shot, when Veslovsky comes running in, yelling that he drove the horses into the marsh and got them stuck in the mud.
- Levin is pissed, especially when neither Oblonsky nor Veslovsky help him and the coachman get the horses unstuck.
- They head to another marsh, and Levin shoots badly and is missing everything and getting angrier and angrier.
- A peasant comes and invites them to lunch. Veslovsky goes and Levin is glad to be rid of him. But still he shoots badly. He gets nothing, while Oblonsky gets 14 birds.
- Levin and Oblonsky meet up with Veslovsky at the peasant’s hut where Levin always stays.
- The three lie in the hay in the barn, too wired to sleep.
- Levin argues with Oblonsky about whether business that makes a lot of money, but does not involve farming or labor is dishonest.
- Levin says it is, Oblonsky says it’s not.
- Veslovsky asks why the three of them should be out shooting and drinking, while the peasant is at work morning and night. He says they profit from the peasant’s work and do nothing while the peasant works and gets nothing.
- Oblonsky scoffs at this attitude, saying if he feels like that, why doesn’t he give the peasants his estate then (this is aimed at Levin as well), and Levin says it is because he has a duty to his family to keep the family estate going.
- They hear singing outside, and Oblonsky and Veslovsky go to join in the fun, while Levin stays in and goes to sleep.
- Super early in the morning, Levin wakes up to hunt again.
- Veslovsky and Oblonsky are too hung over to go, so Levin goes alone, and has great luck.
- Levin returns to the others later, with 20 birds. He is happy to show off, but then gets mad when he learns that Veslovsky has eaten all of the food and there is nothing left. But he cheers up on the ride back home.
- The next morning, Levin and Veslovsky hang out with Kitty and her mother.
- Levin is annoyed (what else is new), because Kitty’s mother insists on them all moving to Moscow for Kitty’s delivery of the baby, and then even more so because Veslovsky is hovering over Kitty again, and Kitty, Levin is sure, is flirting again.
- Levin walks out in a huff, Kitty follows him, crying and saying she can’t take it anymore. Of course, after a while, they make up.
- Levin asks Dolly if she has noticed Veslovsky being too flirty with Kitty, and Dolly says she and Oblonsky both noticed.
- Levin goes and tells Veslovsky that he must leave the house at once. Veslovsky does so, but Oblonsky and Kitty’s mother are horrified at Levin’s rudeness. After a while, they all get over it.
- Dolly goes to visit Anna and Vronsky. On the way there, she thinks about how she feels like a prisoner with her children, and how she has lost her looks and wonders what the point of having all those children is. She thinks about Anna and how she did the right thing to leave a loveless marriage, and thinks about hoe nice it will be to be free from the worries of her children for a few days.
- Dolly comes upon Anna, Vronsky, Veslovsky on horseback, and Princess Varvara (an aunt of Dolly’s husband whom Dolly dislikes because she’s always mooching off rich people) and Sviazhsky (marshal of the district) in a small horse-drawn carriage. Anna looks beautiful to Dolly, and Anna is thrilled to see Dolly. The two women ride off together.
- Anna feels that Dolly is judging her for her immoral lifestyle, and tells Dolly that in spite of it all she is very happy, but was embarrassed to write to Dolly sooner.
- Dolly says she loves her no matter what. They drive by the servants’ cottages, the stables, park, new hospital that Vronsky is building. Anna takes Dolly to her room and goes to dress for dinner.
- Dolly is intimidated by how fancy the house is, and by how much money everything must have cost. The maid, she feels, is better dressed than she, and she is humiliated that she only has one dress to wear, while Anna obviously has many fancy ones.
- Anna comes in and they talk about Anna and Vronsky’s daughter and Anna confesses that her daughter is legally considered a Karenin rather than Vronsky, since she and Karenin are still married.
- Anna brings her to the nursery, which is also luxurious, and Dolly is shocked to see that Anna knows nearly nothing about her daughter, but leaves everything to the nanny.
- They rejoin all the others on the terrace, and everyone goes for a walk to the site of the new hospital construction.
- Dolly at first doesn’t like Vronsky, because he’s too proud (and Dolly thinks he has nothing to be proud of except being rich), but after a while, his excitement about his projects makes him more appealing to her.
- Vronsky and Dolly take a walk alone together, and Vronsky begs her to try and talk Anna into getting a divorce from Karenin, because Vronsky cannot bear the fact that his daughter is a Karenin, and that if he has a son with Anna, that son will be a Karenin, too, and will not be able to inherit any of Vronsky’s money or property, and all Vronsky has done will be lost. Dolly agrees to talk to Anna.
- Dinner that night is very fancy, and the dinner conversation eventually turns to Levin, and his ideas that modern machinery hurts agriculture, and that all the new district councils and arbitration boards are useless and won’t take part in them.
- Vronsky, who is justice of the peace and a member of about 50 different councils (a source of irritation to Anna), says he thinks they are a great idea.
- Dolly begins to feel more and more unhappy. She doesn’t like the way Anna and Veslovsky talk to each other and she feels like everyone one there is acting happy. She decides to leave the next day.
- Before Dolly goes to be Anna comes and talks to her. Dolly asks her about the divorce thing, and asks Anna what will happen to her future children, and Anna tells her that she won’t have any more children.
- Though she doesn’t say it, we are led to believe that the doctor has performed an operation on her, or that she is using some kind of birth control to prevent herself from having more children. To Dolly, this seems immoral and unnatural.
- Dolly asks again about the divorce, and Anna says she won’t ask for it. She says Karenin, with his newfound religion, won’t give one to her, and she doesn’t want to have to write to Karenin. She also says that if she gets a divorce, she won’t be able to get Seriozha (which is a bit bizarre, seeing as she doesn’t have him now, anyway), and that she can’t have both Vronsky and Seriozha, and that she’s miserable and can’t sleep without morphine.
- Dolly leaves the next morning, and is relieved to be back at the Levin’s.
- Vronsky and Anna continue on as before.
- In October, Vronsky goes to the elections for the Kashin province.
- This causes tension between Anna and him, since she hates when he leaves her and feels that he is trying to get away from her. (Not to mention that she has nothing to do all day by herself.)
- In September, Levin and Kitty move to Moscow so she can have her baby there.
- After a month, though, he is out of his mind with boredom, and goes to Kashin to take care of business and watch the elections. It is a long process full of speeches and arguments.
- Levin runs into Oblonsky at the elections and his brother Sergei, and Oblonsky explains to Levin how the elections are running.
- The debates between the old party and the new escalate and are put to a vote. Levin votes.
- Levin is uncomfortable because Vronsky is also at the elections, and tries to avoid him.
- He winds up talking to a fellow landowner about how in some ways they continue farming for the love of it, not because it makes them a lot of money.
- Levin and Vronsky finally wind up in the same conversation, and end up arguing; Vronsky saying that the provinces need justices of the peace, Levin saying that they don’t.
- The voting continues an interminable amount of time, and finally a new marshal of the district is chosen.
- Vronsky has a post-election party, and Oblonsky and the old and new marshal are there.
- Vronsky gets a telegram from Anna, telling him that Ani (their daughter) is sick, that she wanted to come herself but didn’t, that she can’t handle being alone, that she has been waiting for him for two days and doesn’t know what he’s doing, that he must come home. He is angry at being manipulated by her, but goes back on the first train anyway.
- Anna, by herself when Vronsky left, started thinking that he doesn’t love her anymore and that the only way to make him love her and keep him with her is to get a divorce.
- She waits for him to come home, he doesn’t, Ani gets sick, and she writes him the telegram.
- When he sends one back to say he is coming home she feels guilty and sure that he will now love her even less. When he comes home they are tense with each other. He says he must go to Moscow to do certain business things, and she tells him he doesn’t want to be with her, and he’s trying to get away from her, but that she will come to Moscow with him whether he likes it or not. He says he wants her to come.
- Anna writes a note to Karenin asking for a divorce, and she and Vronsky set up house together in Moscow.
- Levin and Kitty have been in Moscow for two months, and she STILL hasn’t had her baby.
- Kitty is blissfully waiting, and Levin is bored out of his gourd.
- One day Kitty goes with her father to visit an old woman friend, and bumps into Vronsky there. She blushes ‘till her head pops off, both when she sees Vronsky and when she tells Levin about it, but all in all, the encounter is fine.
- The next day Levin plans to go see his old college professor Katavasov, but before he does, he and Kitty talk about how much money they are spending in Moscow.
- Levin goes to see Katavasov, who takes him to see Metrov, a great Petersburg scholar.
- Levin tells him about his book, and the two have a debate over their ideas about the peasants’ relationship to the land and agriculture.
- Levin goes to a meeting with the two men, and then leaves to go to a concert.
- He first goes by Kitty’s sister, Natalie’s, to see her husband Lvov. The two talk about educating and raising children, and then the two of them, and Natalie go to the concert.
- Levin goes to the concert, discusses the pieces with various people afterward, and then goes to call on Count Bohl.
- Levin visits with Countess Bohl for an appropriately social amount of time, leaves to get Natalie from her meeting, checks on Kitty, goes out to the club.
- At the club, Levin has a jolly dinner with Oblonsky, Vronsky and others.
- After dinner, Levin is very social and blabs away with everyone else there.
- He plays some sort of betting card game with Vronsky and Oblonsky, and then Oblonsky tells Levin he must come meet Anna, since the two have never met.
- Oblonsky tells Levin in the carriage on the way to Anna’s, that they are having trouble getting Karenin to agree to the divorce -- Anna goes no where and sees no one because she is considered a social outcast (notice, though, how Vronsky still is allowed to go skipping around town).
- She has written a children’s book, and is helping a young English girl, whose father was a drunk.
- Levin arrives, a bit drunk, and sees Anna, and thinks how seductive she is.
- Levin, Oblonsky and Anna have tea, talk and smoke.
- Levin is mesmerized by her, and thinks she is amazing. He also thinks that Vronsky doesn’t truly understand her.
- When he leaves, she sends her best wishes to Kitty, and says she hopes Kitty has forgiven her.
- Levin returns to Kitty. She is depressed because she has been alone waiting and waiting for him. She wants to know where he’s been and he tells her.
- She bursts into tears when he tells her about Anna, insisting that she can see in his eyes and his out-of-control blushing, that he has fallen in love with Anna.
- He takes hours to pacify her, and then the two go to bed.
- After Levin leaves, Anna thinks about how she is always trying to prove that she can make any man fall in love with her.
- She wonders why Vronsky doesn’t seem to love her any more.
- He comes home in a great mood, telling her how much fun he had.
- She freaks out and insists that he does whatever he wants while she sits at home, while she does nothing and waits for him, that he wants to stay away from her. He insists that it isn’t true, that he would do anything for her love, but still she sees a coldness in him.
- At 5am Kitty wakes Levin and tells him she is going into labor.
- He starts running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
- The midwife-type woman arrives and Levin goes for the Doctor, and to get some Laudanum (a drug for pain, which I believe is a form of Opium). Levin keeps saying: "Lord forgive us and help us".
- Levin goes to get the drugs, then to the Doctor’s.
- Levin is hopping around because the Doctor is taking his sweet time, but the doctor laughs at him, telling him to relax, there’s time, and insists that he must drink his coffee.
- Levin can’t wait and leaves ahead of him. Levin goes home where Kitty is moaning and screaming. Dolly is also there and her and Kitty’s mother. They wait and wait and wait.
- Hours go by, and the screams get worse and worse. Finally it’s over and their son is born.
- After the birth, Kitty is transformed and happy, but Levin feels nothing paternal towards his son, he only feels pity and disgust. (uh-oh!)
- Oblonsky is up to his ears in debt, and decides he needs to get a second job to get more money.
- He needs to suck up to a few people in order to get it, and so he makes a trip to Petersburg to do this, and to ask Karenin for his final answer on the whole divorcing Anna thing.
- Oblonsky talks first with Karenin about putting in a good word about him for the job, and Karenin says he will, but then tells Oblonsky that he thinks the salary for the job is too high.
- Oblonsky then asks Karenin about divorcing Anna.
- Karenin gets upset and shrieky and says religiously, he can’t give her a divorce in good conscience. He then says he can’t talk about it any more.
- As Oblonsky is leaving, Seriozha comes in.
- Oblonsky talks to him a bit, and the boy is distressed because his uncle reminds him of Anna, whom he hasn’t seen or spoken of in a year.
- Oblonsky asks Seriozha if he remembers his mother, and Seriozha says no and runs away.
- Oblonsky likes to run around and have fun in Petersburg, and forget about wife, children and job.
- He goes and visits Princess Betsy. While there, the Princess Myagky comes in and tells Oblonsky that Karenin, and Princess Ivanovna are going to see a clairvoyant named Landau (his real name is Count Bezzubov [sound a little like Belzebub]) to find out what he thinks they should do about the divorce. Oblonsky decides to go, too.
- He arrives at Princess Ivanovna’s and meets Landau. Ivanovna keeps looking at Karenin adoringly.
- She tells Oblonsky that he doesn’t see or understand the change that has come over Karenin now that he has taken religion into his heart.
- Oblonsky is very uncomfortable and wants to find some way to get out of there. Landau starts to go into a trance, stops and listens as Lydia Ivanovna starts reading from a book all about how to be a good religious person.
- Lydia keeps reading, and Oblonsky feels his head getting heavier, as if he’s falling asleep.
- He wakes up suddenly, and Landau, who is himself now in a trance, tells Lydia that the new man (Oblonsky) must leave. Oblonsky does.
- The next day, Karenin sends Oblonsky a letter, saying that based on what Landau said in his trance (after Oblonsky left), Karenin will not give Anna a divorce.
- Vronsky and Anna stay in Moscow, and fight more and more.
- Anna feels his love is waning and becomes jealous of everyone and everything, which makes him stay away more, which makes her more jealous and angry.
- One night she waits and waits, getting angrier by the minute. Finally he comes home.
- Anna tells him she has decided they must leave for the country on Monday, get out of Moscow.
- He, too, wants to leave but tells her he can’t leave that day because he has to go see his mother and ask her for more money.
- Anna flips out and tells him that he doesn’t love her anymore, that he loves someone else, that he is planning on leaving her.
- He tells her she’s nuts, that he can’t stand it anymore, and leaves the room.
- She is beside herself and decides that the only escape from this is death.
- Vronsky comes back and tells her he’ll go whenever she wants
- She wails that he should abandon her, that he loves someone else. He consoles her.
- Anna prepares to leave with Vronsky.
- The next morning Vronsky gets a telegram from Oblonsky saying that it looks like Karenin won’t give Anna a divorce.
- Vronsky tries to hide it from her but can’t, and she starts thinking that if he tried to hide this telegram from her, he must also be hiding letters from other women.
- Somehow they start fighting again; Anna says nasty things about his mother, and he asks her not to do that. They stay mad at each other all day and night. She is convinced that he finds her repulsive.
- Anna waits for him to come to her to apologize, but he doesn’t.
- She thinks about dying again, and goes and watches him sleep.
- The next morning she is about to go to him, when she sees a carriage pull up and a pretty young girl give Vronsky a package.
- She is convinced again that he hates her and loves someone else. He tells her that the packet was the money from his mother, but she tells him that she won’t leave with him. He is frustrated and leaves.
- After he leaves, Anna feels awful and sends a note to Vronsky to come home.
- But the page misses him. Anna sends him a telegram instead, and then goes to see Dolly.
- When Anna gets to Dolly’s house, she learns that Kitty is there. Dolly comes out to her first, and Anna knows that Kitty judges her and doesn’t want to see her. But Kitty does come out eventually, but Anna is acting weird and leaves soon after.
- Anna goes home and finds a note from Vronsky (who has gone to his mother’s), saying that he won’t be home before ten. She can’t wait though, and decides to go trey and meet him at the station, and if she misses him, to go to his mother’s house herself.
- In the carriage, she thinks about how Vronsky doesn’t love her any more, and how even if she gets a divorce now, nothing will change, everyone will still hate her.
- She gets to the station and gets on the train.
- The train arrives at the station and Anna gets out.
- She is out of her mind and thinks that everyone is staring at her.
- She decides that she will throw herself in front of a train and punish him.
- She misses the first one and so lies down ion front of the second.
- She has a moment of changing her mind, but is too late and gets killed by the train.
- Two months later, Levin’s brother, Koznyshev, who has just published a book, and their mutual friend Katavasov, decide to go stay with Levin in the country for a few weeks.
- At one of the stations along the way, the two men bump into Oblonsky, who tells them that Dolly is also staying at Levin’s and asks if they would tell her that he was appointed to the position he had been seeking. They find out that Vronky is travelling on this train, and that he is taking a whole squadron to the war himself.
- On the train, they discuss with other passengers news of the war between the Serbs and the Turks that has broken out recently.
- Koznyshev walks by Vronsky’s compartment.
- He is not there, but his mother is, and she talks to Koznyshev, and tells him that Vronsky has been beside himself with grief; that Karenin took his and Anna’s daughter from him; that the war is the only thing giving him any purpose in life.
- She asks Koznyshev to talk to him. She also says that Anna was a bad woman who came to a bad end.
- At the next stop, Koznyshev meets up with Vronsky, who is pacing up and down on the platform.
- Vronsky says he is miserable, that his life has no meaning. He thinks of Anna dead under the train, and then of the first time he met her, and he breaks down and cries.
- He composes himself, and the two get back on the train.
- The two men arrive at Levin’s. Kitty is there, and tells them that Levin is out working, and sends someone to get him. The two men go wash up, and Kitty goes and feeds the baby.
- Kitty thinks about how Levin is upset because he has no religious faith. But she thinks of him and how kind he is to everybody, and hopes that her son will be as good a man as Levin.
- Levin is tortured by his lack of faith.
- He doesn’t find all the answers to life in Christianity, nor does he find them in science.
- He is confused by how when Kitty was in labor he had prayed and felt better. He doesn’t know what to think.
- He reads all the great philosophers, but nothing helps. He thinks that if he doesn’t know what he is and why he is alive, then he might as well be dead. He contemplates suicide often.
- In spite of all this, when he stops thinking so much, and just lives his day-to-day life, he is full of purpose and knowledge, and is content.
- The day his brother and Katavasov arrive, though, he is working very hard and having a lot of "why am I here? What am I doing?" despairing thoughts and feeling miserable.
- Levin talks to a peasant who tells him the importance of living for ones own soul. Levin on the walk home feels happy.
- Levin thinks over his life and his philosophies, and realizes that he has always known how to live rightly, because of all that he was taught in his childhood, and that it has been all his thinking that has made him unhappy.
- He realizes that he does believe in God and the church, and believes that he and everyone is taken care of, and that when people are full spiritually they are full of happiness.
- Levin goes home and greets his brother and guest.
- Dolly tells him Kitty has gone with the baby to sleep in the woods because the house is too hot.
- Levin doesn’t like her doing that, and they all set out together for a little outing in the woods.
- Levin, his brother, Dolly, Kitty’s father, and Katavasov, talk about the war, and how when governments do not do the will of the people, the people rise up to do it themselves. They also discuss how the majority of peasants don’t even know about or care about the war, because it has no immediate bearing on them or their day-to-day lives.
- The talk continues, and they talk about the press, and how it is supposed to reflect the feelings of the masses but doesn’t. It is starting to rain, and so they end the conversation and head back to the house.
- It is pouring rain and when Levin gets back, he learns that Kitty, the baby and the nurse are still not back and must have gotten caught in the storm. He rushes out to find them. He is running around, and lightening strikes a tree and almost hits Kitty but doesn’t.
- When he gets to her, he at first yells at her for going out, but then feels like an idiot and is nice.
- The rest of the day everyone is happy. Levin goes to see Kitty in the nursery where she is bathing their son. He says that not until the tree almost his them did he realize how much he actually loved his son.
- Levin goes out and looks at the sky and thinks that he cannot solve all of the spiritual problems in the world, and that he is not a perfect man, but at least now he knows that he is meant to be good in his life, and to fill his life with a spirit of goodness.
THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART
- Talk about jealousy/envy in the book -- the different kinds, how often it occurs, what happens as a result of it.
- How are the pairs of Vronsky/Anna and Kitty/Levin different? Similar?
- Look at the importance that ‘name" is given. How important it is to have a good ‘name’, a good ‘face’ in society and how it affects the lives and decisions of Karenin, Vronsky, Anna, Kitty and Levin.
- Talk about this idea that the "nobility" have (Dolly, Levin, especially) that the peasants are happier than they are. Do their lives of wealth and idleness breed unhappiness? This is especially relevant for the women, like Anna, Kitty and Dolly, whose husbands/lovers, go off and out into the world, while they sit at home and wait for them and feel bored, miserable and unloved.
- Talk about how often birth and death occur in this book, how it occurs, and how it is reacted to by those involved and by others.