Anna Karenina Part 1, Chapter 14 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 1, Chapter 14 Summary

The princess arrives just at that awkward moment, horrified at seeing them alone and then, after seeing their faces, thankful to see that Kitty has refused Levin. She sits and begins questioning Levin about life in the country while he hopes fervently for more visitors so he can slip out unnoticed. Five minutes later Countess Nordston, a friend of Kitty’s, arrives. She wants her friend to marry Vronsky and has never liked Levin.

Levin and Nordston despise each other to such a degree that they do not take anything the other says seriously and are not offended by the other. They spar just a bit before a woman enters the room followed by an officer. Levin can see from the look on Kitty’s face that this is Vronsky and that she loves him. Now he must stay to discover more about the man Kitty loves.

Levin is able to look at his rival with some fairness and can see that he is an impressive man, physically, as he approaches Kitty and bows before holding out his hand to her. Vronsky greets everyone in the room but Levin, with whom he does not even make eye contact; Princess Shtcherbatsky introduces Count Alexey Kirillovitch Vronsky to Levin.

Vronsky is a polite and interested conversationalist, and though Levin knows he should leave, he cannot. The conversation turns to spiritualism, and Vronsky is eager for Nordston to take him with her to a display of the supernatural. Levin, on the other hand, is not a believer, and he has an impassioned conversation with Vronsky. The count wants to try a demonstration of “table-turning” immediately, and Levin is dismissed as a naysayer.

As preparations are made and Kitty goes to get a table, her eyes meet Levin’s and they ask him to understand that she is happy and to forgive her. In return, Levin’s eyes tell her he hates all of them, including her and himself. He picks up his hat to leave. Just as he is leaving, though, the old prince enters the room and, after greeting the ladies, greets him.

Kitty’s father did not know Levin was in town and now he embraces the younger man and engages him in conversation, not even noticing Vronsky waiting patiently to be recognized. Kitty sees how warmly her father talks to Levin and how coldly he responds to Vronsky’s bow. Vronsky looks perplexed and confused at the unwarranted hostility. Countess Nordston suddenly asks to borrow Levin for an experiment; when the prince sees what is planned he excuses himself from such ridiculous pursuits, knowing the idea must have come from Vronsky.

As Vronsky begins talking about an upcoming ball, Levin finally leaves. The last thing he sees is Kitty listening with rapt attention to the man she loves.