Anna Karenina Part 5, Chapter 23 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 5, Chapter 23 Summary

When she was a young, sentimental girl, Countess Lidia Ivanovna was married to a wealthy man of high rank. Though he was jovial and good-natured, he was also an “extremely dissipated rake” who abandoned her just two months after the marriage. When the countess protested passionately and professed her love for him, her husband mocked her and was even hostile. People who knew his good heart and her sentimental nature were at a loss to explain why the couple got divorced. They lived apart and he had his freedom, yet every time the husband met the wife he invariably treated her malignantly, though she never understood why.

The countess has long ago given up being in love with her husband, but since then she has not given up being in love with someone. Often she is in love with several people at once, both men and women. Almost everyone who has lived a rather distinguished life has been the object of her love: the new princes and princesses who married into the royal family; several dignitaries of the church; a journalist, a doctor, a missionary; and Alexey Alexandrovitch.

Despite her fluctuating emotions, Lidia Ivanovna is able to maintain the complicated relations with the court and with fashionable society. After Alexey Alexandrovitch’s trouble, she takes him “under her special protection” and feels as if her other relationships are not true love. Now she is genuinely in love with only one person, and her feelings for Alexey Alexandrovitch seem stronger to her than any of her former feelings of love. She analyzes her feeling for each former love and justifies her feelings for them; her conclusion is that she only fell in love with each of them due to some act or circumstance. She loves Alexey Alexandrovitch only for himself.

Lidia Ivanovna loves Alexey Alexandrovitch for (to her) his lofty soul; his sweet, high voice; his weary eyes; his character; and his “soft white hands with their swollen veins.” She is always overjoyed to see him, but she is also eager to read in his face the impact she is having on his...

(The entire section is 544 words.)