Anna Karenina Part 1, Chapter 8 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 1, Chapter 8 Summary

Once the professor leaves, Koznishev expresses his delight at seeing his brother and asks if Levin is here for a long visit and how the farming is going. Levin knows his brother has no interest in farming, so he only relates a few details connected to money. Until now, Levin had intended to tell his brother about his plan to marry and get his advice on the matter; now, however, he is reluctant to do so. The discussion with the professor along with his brother’s patronizing manner when he asked about the farm (which belongs to them equally though Levin manages both their shares) have created doubt.

What is important to Koznishev are the local boards and politics in the country, but when he asks about them, Levin does not have much to say because he has resigned from them and no longer attends the meetings. In self-defense, Levin tries to explain what was happening at the meetings, but his brother interrupts him and says that is simply how Russians are and that Levin is no good at this kind of thing because he does not look at situations properly.

Koznishev gives Levin the surprising, and somewhat distressing, news that Nikolay has “turned up again.” Nikolay is Levin’s older brother and Koznishev’s half-brother, and he is a rather ruined man who has used up most of his fortune. He is now living among the lowest company and has quarreled with his brothers. Levin is horrified at the news that Nikolay is in town and begins pacing the room. Koznishev regrets telling Levin the news but explains that he tried to discover where Nikolay was, paid a debt for him, and received a short note in reply. Nikolay wrote that he wants to be left in peace by his “gracious” brothers, the only favor he asks of them.

Levin knows it would be shameful of him to forget about his unhappy brother right now, but he wishes he could. Koznishev truly wants to help Nikolay but knows it is impossible and is not offended Nikolay's request. Levin appreciates his half-brother’s attitude but plans to go visit Nikolay, unpleasant as it is likely to be and even though Koznishev advises against it. Both of them are humbled and ashamed by what Nikolay has done.

After he gets his brother’s address from the footman, Levin has second thoughts and goes to Oblonsky’s office and then to the Shtcherbatskys to discover whether Kitty Shtcherbatsky is still free. He will visit Nikolay this evening, but first he will try to find Kitty.