selections from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

PART ONE

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. (1)

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There was no answer, except the general answer life gives to all the most complex and insoluble questions. That answer is: one must live for the needs of the day, in other words, become oblivious. (4)

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And so the liberal tendency became a habit with Stepan Arkadyich, and he liked his newspaper, as he liked a cigar after dinner, for the slight haze it produced in his head. (7)

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chiffonier (n.)
1. N. Amer. a tall chest of drawers, often with a mirror on top.
2. Brit. a low cupboard, sometimes with a raised bookshelf on top.
Darya Alexandrovna, wearing a dressing-jacket, the skimpy braids of her once thick and beautiful hair pinned at the back of her head, her face pinched and thin, her big, frightened eyes protruding on account of that thinness, was standing before an open chiffonier, taking something out of it. (10)

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He had heard that women often love unattractive, simple people, but he did not believe it, because he judged by himself, and he could only love beautiful, mysterious and special women. (23)

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The discussion was about a fashionable question: is there a borderline between psychological and physiological phenomena in human activity, and where does it lie? (23-24)

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He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking. (28)

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turbot (n.)
a European flatfish of inshore waters that has large bony tubercles on the body and is prized as food.
‘You do like turbot?’ he said to Levin, as they drove up. (35)

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‘Well, of course,’ Stepan Arkadyich picked up. ‘But that’s the aim of civilization: to make everything an enjoyment.’

‘Well, if that’s its aim, I’d rather be wild.’ (36)

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Stepan Arkadyich smiled. He knew so well this feeling of Levin’s, knew that for him all the girls in the world were divided into two sorts: one sort was all the girls in the world except her, and these girls had all human weaknesses and were very ordinary girls; the other sort was her alone, with no weaknesses and higher than everything human. (37)

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muzhik (n.)
a Russian peasant.
The mother disliked in Levin his strange and sharp judgments, his awkwardness in society (caused, as she supposed, by his pride), and his, in her opinion, wild sort of life in the country, busy with cattle and muzhiks. (43)

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‘Nowadays girls are not given in marriage as they used to be,’ all these young girls, and even all the old people, thought and said. But how a girl was to be given in marriage nowadays the princess could not find out from anyone. The French custom – for the parents to decide the children’s fate – was not accepted, and even condemned. The English custom – giving the girl complete freedom – was also not accepted and was impossible in Russian society. The Russian custom of matchmaking was regarded as something outrageous and was laughed at by everyone, the princess included. But how a girl was to get married or be given in marriage, no one knew. (44-45)

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‘Ah, no, my dear,’ said the countess, taking her hand. ‘I could go around the world with you and not be bored. You’re one of those sweet women with whom it’s pleasant both to talk and to be silent.’ (63)

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‘What a terrible death!’ said some gentleman passing by. ‘Cut in two pieces, they say.’

‘On the contrary, I think it’s the easiest, it’s instantaneous,’ observed another. (65)

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Anna obviously admired her beauty and youth, and before Kitty could recover she felt that she was not only under her influence but in love with her, as young girls are capable of being in love with older married ladies. (71)

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flounce (n.)
a wide ornamental strip of material gathered and sewn to a piece of fabric, typically on a skirt or dress; a frill.
Something like a game was set up among them, which consisted in sitting as close as possible to her, touching her, holding her small hand, kissing her, playing with her ring or at least touching the flounce of her dress. (72)

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guipure (n.)
a heavy lace consisting of embroidered motifs held together by large connecting stitches.
The dress was all trimmed with Venetian guipure lace. (79)

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‘He’s being sought by the police, of course, because he’s not a scoundrel.’ (87)

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‘You know that capital oppresses the worker – the workers in our country, the muzhiks, bear all the burden of labour, and their position is such that, however much they work, they can never get out of their brutish situation. All the profits earned by their work, with which they might improve their situation, give themselves some leisure and, consequently, education, all surplus earnings are taken from them by the capitalists. And society has developed so that the more they work, the more gain there will be for the merchants and landowners, and they will always remain working brutes. And this order must be changed.’ (88)

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cambric (n.)
a lightweight, closely woven white linen or cotton fabric.
‘It’s very stupid, but it passes,’ Anna said quickly and bent her reddened face to the tiny bag into which she was packing a nightcap and some cambric handkerchiefs. (97)

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pelerine (n.)
a woman’s cape of lace or silk with pointed ends at the center front, popular in the 19th century.
She stood up in order to come to her senses, threw the rug aside, and removed the pelerine from her warm dress. (101)

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nankeen (n.)
a yellowish cotton cloth.
For a moment she recovered and realized that the skinny muzhik coming in, wearing a long nankeen coat with a missing button, was the stoker, that he was looking at the thermometer, that wind and snow had burst in with him through the doorway. (101)

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PART TWO

chignon (n.)
a knot or coil of hair arranged on the back of a woman’s head.
‘These stupid chignons!’ (121)

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‘Tell us something amusing but not wicked,’ said the ambassador’s wife, a great expert at graceful conversation, called ‘small talk’ in England, turning to the diplomat, who also had no idea how to begin now.

‘They say that’s very difficult, that only wicked things are funny,’ he began with a smile. ‘But I’ll try. Give me a topic. The whole point lies in the topic. Once the topic is given, it’s easy to embroider on it. I often think that the famous talkers of the last century would now find it difficult to talk intelligently. Everything intelligent is so boring . . .’

‘That was said long ago,’ the ambassador’s wife interrupted him, laughing.

The conversation had begun nicely, but precisely because it was much too nice, it stopped again. They had to resort to that sure, never failing remedy – malicious gossip. (133-134)

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majolica (n.)
a kind of earthenware made in imitation of Italian maiolica, especially in England during the 19th century.
‘Better if I descend to your level and talk about your majolica and etchings.’ (134)

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‘The only happy marriages I know are arranged ones.’ (137)

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‘Sir John! Yes, Sir John. I’ve seen him. He speaks well. The Vlasyev girl is completely in love with him.’

‘And is it true that her younger sister is marrying Topov?’

‘Yes, they say it’s quite decided.’

‘I’m surprised at the parents. They say it’s a marriage of passion.’

‘Of passion? What antediluvian thoughts you have! Who talks about passion these days?’ said the ambassador’s wife.

‘What’s to be done? This stupid old fashion hasn’t gone out of use,’ said Vronsky.

‘So much the worse for those who cling to it. The only happy marriages I know are arranged ones.’

‘Yes, but how often the happiness of an arranged marriage scatters like dust, precisely because of the appearance of that very passion which was not acknowledged,’ said Vronsky.

‘But by arranged marriages we mean those in which both have already had their wild times. It’s like scarlet fever, one has to go through it.’

‘Then we should find some artificial inoculation against love, as with smallpox.’

‘When I was young, I was in love with a beadle,’ said Princess Miagky. ‘I don’t know whether that helped me or not.’

‘No, joking aside, I think that in order to know love one must make a mistake and then correct it,’ said Princess Betsy.

‘Even after marriage,’ the ambassador’s wife said jokingly.

‘It’s never too late to repent.’ The diplomat uttered an English proverb.

‘Precisely,’ Betsy picked up, ‘one must make a mistake and then correct oneself. What do you think?’ She turned to Anna, who with a firm, barely noticeable smile on her lips was silently listening to this conversation.

‘I think,’ said Anna, toying with the glove she had taken off, ‘I think . . . if there are as many minds as there are men, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.’ (137-138)

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Spring is the time of plans and projects. (153)

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meridional (adj.)
of or relating to a meridian.
to plant willows along the meridional lines of all the fields, so that the snow would not stay too long under them. (157)

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balk (n.)
a ridge left unplowed between furrows.
The two workers were sitting on a balk, probably taking turns smoking a pipe. (157)

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‘Some mathematician said that the pleasure lies not in discovering the truth, but in searching for it.’ (162)

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caftan (n.)
a man’s long belted tunic, worn in countries of the Near East.
He himself went back to a double birch at the other end and, leaning his gun against the fork of a dry lower branch, took off his caftan, tightened his belt, and made sure he had freedom to move his arms. (163)

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epaulette (n.)
an ornamental shoulder piece on an item of clothing, typically on the coat or jacket of a military uniform.
‘Ah, here he is!’ he cried, slapping him hard on the epaulette with his big hand. (176)

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linden (n.)
a deciduous tree with heart-shaped leaves and fragrant yellowish blossoms, native to north temperate regions. The pale soft timber is used for carving and furniture.
The downpour did not last long, and when Vronsky drove up at the full trot of his shaft horse, pulling along the outrunners who rode over the mud with free reins, the sun was already peeking out again, the roofs of the country houses and the old lindens in the gardens on both sides of the main street shone with a wet glitter, and water dripped merrily from the branches and ran off the roofs. (184)

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aiguillette (n.)
an ornament on some military and naval uniforms, consisting of braided loops hanging from the shoulder and on dress uniforms ending in points.
Just as all the participants were summoned to the pavilion to receive their prizes and everyone turned there, Vronsky’s older brother, Alexander, a colonel with aiguillettes, of medium height, as stocky as Alexei but more handsome and ruddy, with a red nose and a drunken, open face, came up to him. (193)

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pastern (n.)
the sloping part of a horse’s foot between the fetlock and the hoof.
On the right the lean beauty Frou-Frou was brought in, stepping on her supple and rather long pasterns as if on springs. (194)

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From Varenka she understood that you had only to forget yourself and love others and you would be calm, happy and beautiful. (224)

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‘But time is money, you’re forgetting that,’ said the colonel.

‘Which time! There are times when you’d give a whole month away for fifty kopecks, and others when you wouldn’t give up half an hour for any price.’ (234)

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PART THREE

Sergei Ivanovich Koznyshev wanted a rest from intellectual work, and instead of going abroad, as usual, went at the end of May to stay with his brother in the country. He was convinced that country life was the best life. He had now come to enjoy that life at his brother’s. Konstantin Levin was very glad, the more so as he no longer expected his brother Nikolai that summer. But, despite his love and respect for Sergei Ivanovich, Konstantin Levin felt awkward in the country with his brother. It was awkward and even unpleasant for him to see his brother’s attitude towards the country. For Konstantin Levin the country was the place of life, that is, of joy, suffering, labour; for Sergei Ivanovich the country was, on the other hand, a rest from work and, on the other, an effective antidote to corruption, which he took with pleasure and an awareness of its effectiveness. For Konstantin Levin the country was good in that it presented a field for labourer that was unquestionably useful; for Sergei Ivanovich the country was especially good because there one could and should do nothing. (237)

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Konstantin Levin did not like talking or hearing about the beauty of nature. For him words took away the beauty of what he saw. (241)

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In the midst of his work moments came to him when he forgot what he was doing an began to feel light, and in those moments his swath came out as even and good as Titus’s. But as soon as he remembered what he was doing and started trying to do better, he at once felt how hard the work was and the swath come out badly. (251)

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metempsychosis (n.)
the supposed transmigration at death of the soul of a human being or animal into a new body of the same or a different species.
She had her own strange religion of metempsychosis, in which she firmly believed, caring little for the dogmas of the Church. (262)

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‘To fall asleep you must work, and to be gay you also must work.’ (301)

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‘We’re the same age. You may have known a greater number of women than I have,’ Serpukhovskoy’s smile and gestures told Vronsky that he need not be afraid, that he would touch the sore spot gently and carefully. ‘But I’m married, and believe me, knowing the one wife you love (as someone wrote), you know all women better than if you’d known thousands of them. […] And here is my opinion for you. Women are the main stumbling block in a man’s activity. It’s hard to love a woman and do anything. For that there exists one means of loving conveniently, without hindrance – that is marriage.’ (311-312)

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tarantass (n.)
a four-wheeled horse-drawn Russian carriage without springs, mounted on a long flexible wooden chassis.
There was no railway or post road to the Surov district, and Levin drove there with his own horses in the tarantass. (323)

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‘I need only persist in going towards my goal and I’ll achieve what I want,’ thought Levin, ‘and so work and effort have their wherefore. This is not my personal affair, it is a question here of the common good. Agriculture as a whole, above all the position of the entire peasantry, must change completely. Instead of poverty – universal wealth, prosperity; instead of hostility – concord and the joining of interests. In short, a revolution, a bloodless but great revolution, first in the small circle of our own region, then the province, Russia, the whole world. Because a correct thought cannot fail to bear fruit. Yes, that is a goal worth working for.’ (344)

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‘Why do you confuse them? I’ve never been a communist.’

‘But I have been, and I find that it’s premature but reasonable, and that it has a future, like Christianity in the first centuries.’ (350)

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PART FOUR

‘One can insult an honest man or an honest woman, but to tell a thief that he is a thief is merely la constatation d’un fait.’*

* The establishing of a fact. (363)

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signet (n.)
a small seal, especially one set in a ring, used instead of or with a signature to give authentication to an official document.
[…] one a German banker with a signet ring on his finger […] (365)

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They respected each other but were in complete and hopeless disagreement on almost everything – not because they belonged to opposite tendencies, but precisely because they were from the same camp (their enemies mixed them up), but within that camp each had his own shade. And since there is nothing less conducive to agreement than a difference of thinking in half-abstract things, they not only never agreed in their opinions, but had long grown used to chuckling at each other’s incorrigible error without getting angry. (380-381)

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trousseau (n.)
the clothes, household linen, and other belongings collected by a bride for her marriage.
‘Mercy!’ said the mother, smiling joyfully at his haste. ‘And the trosseau?’ (306)

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galloon (n.)
a narrow ornamental strip of fabric, typically a silk braid or piece of lace, used to trim clothing or finish upholstery.
On entering the front hall, he saw a handsome footman in galloons and a bear-skin cape, holding a white cloak of American dog. (420)

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PART FIVE

compline (n.)
a service of evening prayers forming part of the Divine Office of the Western Christian Church, traditionally said (or chanted) before retiring for the night.
He stood through the liturgy, vigil and compline, and the next day, getting up earlier than usual, without having tea, went to the church at eight o’clock in the morning to hear the morning prayers and confess. (439)

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‘You are about to enter into matrimony, and it may be that God will reward you with offspring, is it not so? Well, then, what sort of upbringing can you give your little ones, if you don’t overcome in yourself the temptation of the devil who is drawing you into unbelief?’ he said in mild reproach. ‘If you love your child, then, being a good father, you will not desire only wealth, luxury and honour for him; you will desire his salvation, his spiritual enlightenment with the light of Truth. Is it not so? What answer will you give when an innocent child asks you: “Papa! Who created everything that delights me in this world – the earth, the waters, the sun, the flowers, the grass?” Will you really say to him, “I don’t know”? You cannot not know, since the Lord God in His great mercy has revealed it to you. Or else your little one will ask you: “What awaits me in the life beyond the grave?” What will you tell him, if you don’t know anything? How will you answer him? Will you leave him to the temptation of the world and the devil? That’s not good!’ he said and stopped, inclining his head to one side and looking at Levin with meek, kindly eyes. (441)

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‘A more resolution enemy of marriage than you I’ve never yet seen,’ said Sergei Ivanovich.

‘No, not an enemy. I’m a friend of the division of labour. People who can’t do anything should make people, and the rest should contribute to their enlightenment and happiness. That’s how I understand it. The mixing of these trades is done by hosts of fanciers, of whom I am not one.’ (443)

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pomade (n.)
a scented ointment applied to the hair or scalp.

pomade (v., often as adj. pomaded)
apply pomade to.

Darya Alexandrovna still had to go home to pick up her pomaded and curled son, who was to carry the icon for the bride. (446)

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lustre (n.)
a prismatic glass pendant on a chandelier or other ornament.
—a cut-glass chandelier or candelabra.
Inside the church itself, both lustres were already lit as well as all the candles by the icons. (447)

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surplice (n.)
a loose white linen vestment varying from hip-length to calf-length, worn over a cassock by clergy, acolytes, and choristers at Christian church services.
The handsome, tall protodeacon in a silver surplice, his brushed curled locks standing out on either side, stepped briskly forward and, raising his stole in two fingers with an accustomed gesture, stopped in front of the priest. (451-452)

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verger (n.)
an official in a church who acts as a caretaker and attendant.
When the rite of betrothal was finished, a verger spread a piece of pink silk in front of the lectern in the middle of the church, the choir began singing an artful and elaborate psalm in which bass and tenor echoed each other, and the priest, turning, motioned the betrothed to the spread-out piece of pink cloth. (457)

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Vronsky meanwhile, despite the full realization of what he had desired for so long, was not fully happy. He soon felt that the realization of his desire had given him only a grain of the mountain of happiness he had expected. It showed him the eternal error people make in imagining that happiness is the realization of desires. (465)

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‘It used to be that a freethinker was a man who had been brought up with notions of religion, law, morality, and had arrived at freethinking by himself, through his own toil and struggle. But now a new type of self-made freethinkers has appeared, who grow up and never even hear that there were laws of morality, religion, that there were authorities, but who grow up right into notions of the negation of everything – that is, as wild men. […] You understand, in older times a man who wanted to get educated, a Frenchman, let’s say, would start by studying the classics – theologians, tragedians, historians, philosophers – and you can imagine all the mental labour that confronted him. But with us, now, he comes straight to nihilistic literature, very quickly learns the whole essence of its negative teaching, and there he is. And that’s not all: some twenty years ago he’d have found signs of a struggle with authorities, with age-old views, in this literature, and from this struggle he’d have understood that something else existed; but now he comes straight to a literature that doesn’t even deign to argue with the old views, but says directly: There is nothing, evolution, selection, the struggle for existence – and that’s all.’ (468)

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It was impossible to forbid a man to make a big wax doll and kiss it. (478-479)

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It is had for a discontented man not to reproach someone else, especially the very one who is closest to him, for his discontent. (486)

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Now, among all his acquaintances, there was no one who was close to him. There were many of what are known as connections, but there were no friendly relations. (507)

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‘A wife’s a worry, a non-wife’s even worse.’ (544)

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PART SIX

poplin (n.)
a plain-woven fabric, typically a lightweight cotton, with a corded surface.
‘Last year, for instance, I bought not poplin exactly but something like it for our Matryona Semyonovna,’ said the princess. (554)

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It always happened with Levin that when the first shots were unsuccessful, he would become angry, vexed, and shoot badly all day. (583)

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The hunters’ omen proved true, that if the first beast or bird was taken the field would be lucky. (595)

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pirozhki (n.)
small Russian pastries or patties, filled with meat or fish and rice.
Coming back from the hunt tired and hungry, Levin had been dreaming so specifically of pirozhki that, as he approached their quarters, he could already feel their smell and taste in his mouth, the way Laska could sense game, and he at once ordered Filipp to serve them. (596)

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‘Society’s view would be that he’s behaving as all young men behave. Il fait la cour à une jeune et jolie femme, and a worldly husband should be flattered by it.’

* He’s courting a young and pretty woman. (601)

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hale (adj.)
(of a person, especially an elderly one) strong and healthy.
A young, hale, strapping fellow also came over. (610)

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‘I have no opinion,’ she said, ‘but I’ve always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, as they are, and not as you’d like them to be.’ (614)

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‘I don’t want to prove anything, I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself. I have that right, haven’t I?’ (616)

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stentorious (adj.)
(of a person’s voice) loud and powerful.
The secretary announced stentoriously that Captain of the Guards Mikhail Stepanovich Snetkov was standing for provincial marshal. (660)

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PART SEVEN

‘If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.’ (683)

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There are no conditions to which a person cannot grow accustomed, especially if he sees that everyone around him lives in the same way. (706)

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In order to undertake anything in family life, it is necessary that there be either complete discord between the spouses or loving harmony. But when the relations between spouses are uncertain and there is neither the one nor the other, nothing can be undertaken.

Many families stay for years in the same old places, hateful to both spouses, only because there is neither full discord nor harmony. (739)

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‘Is it really possible to tell someone else what one feels?’ (760)

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PART EIGHT

All that spring he was not himself and lived through terrible moments.

‘Without knowing what I am and why I’m here, it is impossible for me to live. And I cannot know that, therefore I cannot live,’ Levin would say to himself.

‘In infinite time, in the infinity of matter, in infinite space, a bubble-organism separates itself, and that bubble holds out for a while and then bursts, and that bubble is – me.’ (788)

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When Levin thought about what he was and what he lived for, he found no answer and fell into despair; but when he stopped asking himself about it, he seemed to know what he was and what he lived for, because he acted and lived firmly and definitely; recently he had even lived much more firmly and definitely than before. (789)

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‘”You think war is necessary? Fine. Send anyone who preaches war to a special front-line legion – into the assault, into the attack, ahead of everyone!”‘ (808)

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