Anna Karenina Part 3, Chapter 18 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 3, Chapter 18 Summary

When Princess Betsy’s guests arrive, her conversation with Anna Karenina is interrupted.  Sappho Shtoltz is a “blond beauty with black eyes,” followed everywhere by Vaska, her ardent admirer. Sappho Shtoltz’s hairdo is a "superstructure of soft, golden hair—her own and false mixed," and her bust is overexposed. She is so bustled and corseted that it is difficult to tell where the petite woman’s actual body might be under all the flowing material. Princess Betsy quickly introduces her to Anna Karenina.

Sappho Shtoltz and Vaska are teasing one another when the woman suddenly remembers that she invited another of her admirers to the croquet party and introduces him to her hostess. This man, too, follows Sappho Shtoltz everywhere she goes. Soon after, the other two guests arrive. Liza Merkalova is a thin, Oriental-looking woman with “exquisite enigmatic eyes.” Her style harmonizes perfectly with her beauty, and Anna Karenina finds her much more attractive than Sappho Shtoltz. This is the woman Princess Betsy described as feigning innocence, but Anna Karenina does not agree.

Liza Merkalova, Anna Karenina knows, may seem like the same sort of woman as Sappho Shtoltz, each of them with a young man and an old man following doggedly after them; however, when people look into Liza Merkalova’s eyes, they cannot help but love her. When she sees Anna Karenina, those passionate eyes light up with delight. Liza Merkalova explains that she had tried to find Anna Karenina after the races and was dismayed to have missed her.

When the others leave for the garden to play croquet, Liza Merkalova settles next to Anna Karenina and says she will stay with her, for she is bored. She wonders how the older woman cannot be bored. It is always the same people doing the same things at the same places. She says Anna Karenina looks as if she might be happy or unhappy but does not look bored. A blushing Anna Karenina says she does...

(The entire section is 507 words.)