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Anna Karenina

Chapter I.8
When the professor had gone, Sergey Ivanovitch turned to his brother.
"Delighted that you've come. For some time, is it? How's your farming getting
Levin knew that his elder brother took little interest in farming, and only put the
question in deference to him, and so he only told him about the sale of his wheat
and money matters.
Levin had meant to tell his brother of his determination to get married, and to ask
his advice; he had indeed firmly resolved to do so. But after seeing his brother,
listening to his conversation with the professor, hearing afterwards the
unconsciously patronizing tone in which his brother questioned him about
agricultural matters (their mother's property had not been divided, and Levin took
charge of both their shares), Levin felt that he could not for some reason begin to
talk to him of his intention of marrying. He felt that his brother would not look at it
as he would have wished him to.
"Well, how is your district council doing?" asked Sergey Ivanovitch, who was
greatly interested in these local boards and attached great importance to them.
"I really don't know."
"What! Why, surely you're a member of the board?"
"No, I'm not a member now; I've resigned," answered Levin, "and I no longer
attend the meetings."
"What a pity!" commented Sergey Ivanovitch, frowning.
Levin in self-defense began to describe what took place in the meetings in his
"That's how it always is!" Sergey Ivanovitch interrupted him. "We Russians are
always like that. Perhaps it's our strong point, really, the faculty of seeing our own
shortcomings; but we overdo it, we comfort ourselves with irony which we always
have on the tip of our tongues. All I say is, give such rights as our local self-
government to any other European people--why, the Germans or the English
would have worked their way to freedom from them, while we simply turn them
into ridicule."