Anna Karenina HTML version

Chapter I.27
The house was big and old-fashioned, and Levin, though he lived alone, had the
whole house heated and used. He knew that this was stupid, he knew that it was
positively not right, and contrary to his present new plans, but this house was a
whole world to Levin. It was the world in which his father and mother had lived
and died. They had lived just the life that to Levin seemed the ideal of perfection,
and that he had dreamed of beginning with his wife, his family.
Levin scarcely remembered his mother. His conception of her was for him a
sacred memory, and his future wife was bound to be in his imagination a
repetition of that exquisite, holy ideal of a woman that his mother had been.
He was so far from conceiving of love for woman apart from marriage that he
positively pictured to himself first the family, and only secondarily the woman who
would give him a family. His ideas of marriage were, consequently, quite unlike
those of the great majority of his acquaintances, for whom getting married was
one of the numerous facts of social life. For Levin it was the chief affair of life, on
which its whole happiness turned. And now he had to give up that.
When he had gone into the little drawing room, where he always had tea, and
had settled himself in his armchair with a book , and Agafea Mihalovna had
brought him tea, and with her usual, "Well, I'll stay a while, sir," had taken a chair
in the window, he felt that, however strange it might be, he had not parted from
his daydreams, and that he could not live without them. Whether with her, or with
another, still it would be. He was reading a book, and thinking of what he was
reading, and stopping to listen to Agafea Mihalovna, who gossiped away without
flagging, and yet with all that, all sorts of pictures of family life and work in the
future rose disconnectedly before his imagination. He felt that in the depth of his
soul something had been put in its place, settled down, and laid to rest.
He heard Agafea Mihalovna talking of how Prohor had forgotten his duty to God,
and with the money Levin had given him to buy a horse, had been drinking
without stopping, and had beaten his wife till he'd half killed her. He listened, and
read his book, and recalled the whole train of ideas suggested by his reading. It
was Tyndall's Treatise on Heat. He recalled his own criticisms of Tyndall of his
complacent satisfaction in the cleverness of his experiments, and for his lack of
philosophic insight. And suddenly there floated into his mind the joyful thought:
"In two years' time I shall have two Dutch cows; Pava herself will perhaps still be
alive, a dozen young daughters of Berkoot and the three others--how lovely!"
He took up his book again. "Very good, electricity and heat are the same thing;
but is it possible to substitute the one quantity for the other in the equation for the
solution of any problem? No. Well, then what of it? The connection between all