Anna Karenina Part 1, Chapter 23 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 1, Chapter 23 Summary

Vronsky and Kitty waltz around the room several times and Kitty barely has time to visit with friends before he is back for their quadrille. Their conversation is inconsequential and rather stilted, but Kitty is not dismayed and has put all her hopes on the mazurka, assuming they will dance together as always and turning down five other young men in anticipation of Vronsky’s invitation. During this dance, she imagines everything will be decided.

As Kitty watches Anna Karenina, she sees an intoxication which she recognizes from her own experience, a euphoria and deliberate precision which is feeding on admiration. What she does not know is if it is the admiration of the crowd or of one in particular, and as the evening progresses she realizes it is the latter—and she begins to wonder if it Vronsky who is the cause. Kitty watches her new friend try not to show signs of delight when he speaks to her, but her joy cannot be controlled and radiates anyway. And on his face is a look Kitty has never before seen; he looks at Anna Karenina as if to tell her he does not want to offend her but he wants to save himself and does not know how.

The two talk near Kitty and their conversation is innocuous; yet for Kitty the entire world, her soul, seems “lost in a fog.” Only her stern and disciplined upbringing enables her to act outwardly as if everything is normal; however, as the room is being rearranged for the mazurka, Kitty is horrified to realize that she is without a partner. She must tell her mother she is feeling ill, but she cannot even muster the strength to do that. Kitty is crushed and sinks into a chair at the furthest end of the drawing room where she fans her burning face. Her heart aches with a “horrible despair.”

Countess Nordston comes to her and tells her she overheard Vronsky asking Anna Karenina for the mazurka; she asked him why he was not going to dance with Princess...

(The entire section is 525 words.)