Anna karenina, p.70
Anna Karenina, p.70graf Leo Tolstoy
Sergey Ivanovitch Koznishev wanted a rest from mental work, and insteadof going abroad as he usually did, he came towards the end of May tostay in the country with his brother. In his judgment the best sort oflife was a country life. He had come now to enjoy such a life at hisbrother's. Konstantin Levin was very glad to have him, especially as hedid not expect his brother Nikolay that summer. But in spite of hisaffection and respect for Sergey Ivanovitch, Konstantin Levin wasuncomfortable with his brother in the country. It made himuncomfortable, and it positively annoyed him to see his brother'sattitude to the country. To Konstantin Levin the country was thebackground of life, that is of pleasures, endeavors, labor. To SergeyIvanovitch the country meant on one hand rest from work, on the other avaluable antidote to the corrupt influences of town, which he took withsatisfaction and a sense of its utility. To Konstantin Levin the countrywas good first because it afforded a field for labor, of the usefulnessof which there could be no doubt. To Sergey Ivanovitch the country wasparticularly good, because there it was possible and fitting to donothing. Moreover, Sergey Ivanovitch's attitude to the peasants ratherpiqued Konstantin. Sergey Ivanovitch used to say that he knew and likedthe peasantry, and he often talked to the peasants, which he knew how todo without affectation or condescension, and from every suchconversation he would deduce general conclusions in favor of thepeasantry and in confirmation of his knowing them. Konstantin Levin didnot like such an attitude to the peasants. To Konstantin the peasant wassimply the chief partner in their common labor, and in spite of all therespect and the love, almost like that of kinship, he had for thepeasant--sucked in probably, as he said himself, with the milk of hispeasant nurse--still as a fellow-worker with him, while sometimesenthusiastic over the vigor, gentleness, and justice of these men, hewas very often, when their common labors called for other qualities,exasperated with the peasant for his carelessness, lack of method,drunkenness, and lying. If he had been asked whether he liked or didn'tlike the peasants, Konstantin Levin would have been absolutely at a losswhat to reply. He liked and did not like the peasants, just as he likedand did not like men in general. Of course, being a good-hearted man, heliked men rather than he disliked them, and so too with the peasants.But like or dislike "the people" as something apart he could not, notonly because he lived with "the people," and all his interests werebound up with theirs, but also because he regarded himself as a part of"the people," did not see any special qualities or failingsdistinguishing himself and "the people," and could not contrast himselfwith them. Moreover, although he had lived so long in the closestrelations with the peasants, as farmer and arbitrator, and what wasmore, as adviser (the peasants trusted him, and for thirty miles roundthey would come to ask his advice), he had no definite views of "thepeople," and would have been as much at a loss to answer the questionwhether he knew "the people" as the question whether he liked them. Forhim to say he knew the peasantry would have been the same as to say heknew men. He was continually watching and getting to know people of allsorts, and among them peasants, whom he regarded as good and interestingpeople, and he was continually observing new points in them, alteringhis former views of them and forming new ones. With Sergey Ivanovitch itwas quite the contrary. Just as he liked and praised a country life incomparison with the life he did not like, so too he liked the peasantryin contradistinction to the class of men he did not like, and so too heknew the peasantry as something distinct from and opposed to mengenerally. In his methodical brain there were distinctly formulatedcertain aspects of peasant life, deduced partly from that life itself,but chiefly from contrast with other modes of life. He never changed hisopinion of the peasantry and his sympathetic attitude towards them.
In the discussions that arose between the brothers on their views of thepeasantry, Sergey Ivanovitch always got the better of his brother,precisely because Sergey Ivanovitch had definite ideas about thepeasant--his character, his qualities, and his tastes. Konstantin Levinhad no definite and unalterable idea on the subject, and so in theirarguments Konstantin was readily convicted of contradicting himself.
In Sergey Ivanovitch's eyes his younger brother was a capital fellow,_with his heart in the right place_ (as he expressed it in French), butwith a mind which, though fairly quick, was too much influenced by theimpressions of the moment, and consequently filled with contradictions.With all the condescension of an elder brother he sometimes explained tohim the true import of things, but he derived little satisfaction fromarguing with him because he got the better of him too easily.
Konstantin Levin regarded his brother as a man of immense intellect andculture, as generous in the highest sense of the word, and possessed ofa special faculty for working for the public good. But in the depths ofhis heart, the older he became, and the more intimately he knew hisbrother, the more and more frequently the thought struck him that thisfaculty of working for the public good, of which he felt himself utterlydevoid, was possibly not so much a quality as a lack of something--not alack of good, honest, noble desires and tastes, but a lack of vitalforce, of what is called heart, of that impulse which drives a man tochoose someone out of the innumerable paths of life, and to care onlyfor that one. The better he knew his brother, the more he noticed thatSergey Ivanovitch, and many other people who worked for the publicwelfare, were not led by an impulse of the heart to care for the publicgood, but reasoned from intellectual considerations that it was a rightthing to take interest in public affairs, and consequently took interestin them. Levin was confirmed in this generalization by observing thathis brother did not take questions affecting the public welfare or thequestion of the immortality of the soul a bit more to heart than he didchess problems, or the ingenious construction of a new machine.
Besides this, Konstantin Levin was not at his ease with his brother,because in summer in the country Levin was continually busy with work onthe land, and the long summer day was not long enough for him to getthrough all he had to do, while Sergey Ivanovitch was taking a holiday.But though he was taking a holiday now, that is to say, he was doing nowriting, he was so used to intellectual activity that he liked to putinto concise and eloquent shape the ideas that occurred to him, andliked to have someone to listen to him. His most usual and naturallistener was his brother. And so in spite of the friendliness anddirectness of their relations, Konstantin felt an awkwardness in leavinghim alone. Sergey Ivanovitch liked to stretch himself on the grass inthe sun, and to lie so, basking and chatting lazily.
"You wouldn't believe," he would say to his brother, "what a pleasurethis rural laziness is to me. Not an idea in one's brain, as empty as adrum!"
But Konstantin Levin found it dull sitting and listening to him,especially when he knew that while he was away they would be cartingdung onto the fields not ploughed ready for it, and heaping it all upanyhow; and would not screw the shares in the ploughs, but would letthem come off and then say that the new ploughs were a silly invention,and there was nothing like the old Andreevna plough, and so on.
"Come, you've done enough trudging about in the heat," Sergey Ivanovitchwould say to him.
"No, I must just run round to the counting-house for a minute," Levinwould answer, and he would run off to the fields.
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