Part 6, Chapter 29 Summary
Great excitement is in the room as the leaders of both parties gather their troops like generals preparing for battle. They have reckoned every vote and are getting ready for the fight. Many noblemen are relaxing before the voting, but Levin does not want to eat, smoke, or join his friends, for he sees that Vronsky has joined their group. Levin saw Vronsky yesterday and assiduously avoided him. Now he sits with one lone, toothless old man who also has no interest in the proceedings.
First Levin hears a few gentlemen complaining near him. Next a crowd of country gentlemen hurriedly come near, obviously looking for a place where they can talk in private and spew their grievances. Another group is following a drunken gentleman who is shouting something; Levin suddenly hears a pleasant voice and recognizes at once the country landowner he met at Sviazhsky’s. The gentleman recognizes Levin, as well, and they exchange greetings.
Levin asks how his land is doing, and the landowner says it is as unprofitable, though he smiles with resignation as he says it. He asks why Levin is here—along with all the rest of Russia, it seems. Levin admits he does not particularly understand the point of the provincial elections, and the man says there is nothing to understand. It is a “decaying institution that goes on running only by the force of inertia.” The uniforms alone signify that this is an assembly of many professionals but not true noblemen.
This landowner attends out of habit for himself and expediency for his son-in-law who must become part of the gathering for business reasons and needs someone to put him forward for membership. The angry gentlemen in the room call themselves the “new nobility,” but while they may be new they are certainly not noble. The landowner believes they are all “cutting their own throats,” but Levin reminds him that he just said this is an institution which has served its time.
The landholder describes this way of doing things as being like an old, gnarled tree...
(The entire section is 551 words.)