Part 3, Chapter 26 Summary
Levin’s friend Sviazhsky is a happily married man five years his senior, and his young sister-in-law lives with him and his wife. Though no one has ever spoken of it, Levin knows (with a sense “so-called eligible young men” all have) his friend and his wife would love for him to marry the girl. While he knows the girl is quite attractive and would make him a good wife, Levin could never marry her even if he had not been in love with Kitty Shtcherbatsky.
After receiving the invitation from his friend, Levin had immediately thought of this and thought it might taint his visit, but he determines to go and he even sees it as an opportunity to test his heart. Sviazhsky is both interesting and involved in local affairs as Levin knows he should be himself. Levin is fascinated by Sviazhsky because while he claims certain accepted beliefs, he does not live by them.
Sviazhsky despises nobility, yet every time he is out he wears all the trappings of his own noble office. He claims that the only proper place to live is abroad, yet he works diligently on agriculture in Russia and knows every current thing in Russian culture. He believes the peasant is a creature barely evolved from the ape, yet at every assembly meeting he is eager to shake their hands and listen to their opinions. He is not in the least concerned about God and the devil but demonstrates great concern about maintaining the local clergy. He is an extreme advocate of complete liberty for women, but everything his wife does is arranged and approved by him.
Levin is puzzled by his friend and has often tried to talk with him about the “foundation of his view of life.” However, every time Levin seems to penetrate beyond the man’s commonly held views, Sviazhsky is disconcerted and shows alarm in his eyes. He seems to be afraid that Levin might actually understand him and be good-naturedly repulsed by him as a consequence. At this time of dissatisfaction with his life, Levin is even more fascinated by his friend and is determined to get at the secret of Sviazhsky’s...
(The entire section is 546 words.)