122. Anna Karenina

By Leo Tolstoy

122 Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

Levin, of himself:

He (Levin) was painfully out of harmony with himself and strained all his spiritual powers to escape from this condition.

Thinking about it led him into doubts and prevented him from seeing what he should and should not do. But when he did not think, but just lived, he unceasingly felt in his soul the presence of an infallible judge deciding which of two possible actions was the better and which the worse; and as soon as he did what he should not have done, he immediately felt this. In this way he lived, not knowing or seeing any possibility of knowing what he was or why he lived in the world, and he suffered so much from that ignorance that he was afraid he might commit suicide, while at the same time he was firmly cutting his own particular definite path through life.

What am I? Where am I? and why am I here?

He lives for his soul and remembers God.

To live not for one’s needs but for God! – that is, we must not live for what we understand and what attracts us, what we wish for, but must live for something incomprehensible, for God whom nobody can understand or define.

If goodness has a cause, it is no longer goodness if it has a consequence- a reward, it is also not goodness. Therefore goodness is beyond the chain of cause and effect.

But now I say that I know the meaning of my life: it is to live for God, for the soul.

I looked for an answer to my question. But reason could not give me an answer- reason is incommensurable with the question. Life itself has given me the answer, in my knowledge of what is good and what is bad. And that knowledge I did not acqure in any way; it was given to me as to everybody, given because I could not take it from anywhere. Where did I get it from? Was it by reason that I attained to the knowledge that I must love my neighbour and not throttle him? They told me so when I was a child, and I gladly believed it, because they told me what already in my soul. But who discovered it? Not reason! Reason has discovered the struggle for existence and the law that I must throttle all those who hinder the satisfaction of my desires. That is the deduction reason makes. But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.

the principal thing- faith in God, in goodness, as the sole vacation of man.

Reality, which had already so lowered his spiritual condition

all these considerations of the importance of Slavonic element in universal history seemed to him so insignificant in comparison with what was going on in his soul

I shall still get angry with Ivan the coachman in the same way, shall dispute in the same way, shall inopportunely express my thoughts; there will still be a wall between my soul’s holy of holies and other people; even my wife I shall still blame for my own fears and shall repent of it. My reason will still not understand  why I pray, but I shall still pray, and my life, my whole life, independently of anything that may happen to me, is every moment of it no longer meaningless as it was before, but has an unquestionable meaning of goodness with which I have the power to invest it.

Others, of Levin:

his heart in the right place

Kitty, of Varenka:

Simply and naturally, as she did everything. Just as she talked to everybody, easily and naturally.

Interest in life, the worth of life

What is it in her? What gives her this power to disregard everything and to be so quietly independent?

What- what is most important? What gives you such peace?

Why should you be like anyone? You’re very good as you are, said Varenka, smiling her gentle, weary smile. Mlle Varenka’s face shone with a soft and pleased, though rather sad, smile

In Varenka she saw that it was only necessary to forget oneself and to love others in order to be at peace, happy, and lovely. (clearly understood what was most important)


Love is unreasonable.

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