Anna Karenina HTML version

Chapter I.3
When he was dressed, Stepan Arkadyevitch sprinkled some scent on himself,
pulled down his shirt-cuffs, distributed into his pockets his cigarettes, pocketbook,
matches, and watch with its double chain and seals, and shaking out his
handkerchief, feeling himself clean, fragrant, healthy, and physically at ease, in
spite of his unhappiness, he walked with a slight swing on each leg into the
dining-room, where coffee was already waiting for him, and beside the coffee,
letters and papers from the office.
He read the letters. One was very unpleasant, from a merchant who was buying
a forest on his wife's property. To sell this forest was absolutely essential; but at
present, until he was reconciled with his wife, the subject could not be discussed.
The most unpleasant thing of all was that his pecuniary interests should in this
way enter into the question of his reconciliation with his wife. And the idea that he
might be let on by his interests, that he might seek a reconciliation with his wife
on account of the sale of the forest--that idea hurt him.
When he had finished his letters, Stepan Arkadyevitch moved the office-papers
close to him, rapidly looked through two pieces of business, made a few notes
with a big pencil, and pushing away the papers, turned to his coffee. As he
sipped his coffee, he opened a still damp morning paper, and began reading it.
Stepan Arkadyevitch took in and read a liberal paper, not an extreme one, but
one advocating the views held by the majority. And in spite of the fact that
science, art, and politics had no special interest for him, he firmly held those
views on all these subjects which were held by the majority and by his paper, and
he only changed them when the majority changed them--or, more strictly
speaking, he did not change them, but they imperceptibly changed of themselves
within him.
Stepan Arkadyevitch had not chosen his political opinions or his views; these
political opinions and views had come to him of themselves, just as he did not
choose the shapes of his hat and coat, but simply took those that were being
worn. And for him, living in a certain society--owing to the need, ordinarily
developed at years of discretion, for some degree of mental activity--to have
views was just as indispensable as to have a hat. If there was a reason for his
preferring liberal to conservative views, which were held also by many of his
circle, it arose not from his considering liberalism more rational, but from its being
in closer accordance with his manner of life. The liberal party said that in Russia
everything is wrong, and certainly Stepan Arkadyevitch had many debts and was
decidedly short of money. The liberal party said that marriage is an institution
quite out of date, and that it needs reconstruction; and family life certainly
afforded Stepan Arkadyevitch little gratification, and forced him into lying and
hypocrisy, which was so repulsive to his nature. The liberal party said, or rather