Anna Karenina Part 7, Chapter 20 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 7, Chapter 20 Summary

Stepan Arkadyevitch does not waste his time in St. Petersburg. After he does the few things he came here to do, he spends his time refreshing himself from what he calls the “mustiness of Moscow.” When his stresses get too heavy, he likes coming here to renew himself. One of his friends in St. Petersburg is Prince Tchetchensky. The prince has two families, one of them illegitimate; he even takes his oldest son from his first family when he spends time with the second family, saying it is good for the boy because it enlarges his ideas. This kind of thing would never be tolerated in Moscow.

In St. Petersburg, the children go to school and their lives do not supersede their parents’ lives as they do in Moscow. Here they understand that a man is “duty bound to live for himself,” which is what all men of culture should do. In this city, even official duties are not the drudgery they are in Moscow. A favor done today might result in a promotion tomorrow. And, in money matters, Stepan Arkadyevitch finds St. Petersburg much more to his liking than his own city. Here one can amass outrageous debt and still live in grand style. In Moscow he feels old, but he always feels ten years younger than when he is in St. Petersburg. If Stepan Arkadyevitch is forced to spend too much time in Moscow, he degenerates so much that he even begins to consider his salvation; in St. Petersburg he feels as if he is again a man of the world.

Princess Betsy Tverskaya is someone with whom Stepan Arkadyevitch has always carried on an outrageous flirtation. Unfortunately, he delights her so much that he is quite attractive to her, but he finds her “positively disagreeable.” When she sees him now, Princess Betsy asks about Anna Karenina and regrets that no one told her when she was in town so she could have gone to visit her. It is a lie, of course, but Stepan Arkadyevitch believes her; she asks him to tell her about his sister.

He is interrupted immediately by Princess Betsy’s friend who wants to talk about herself. She...

(The entire section is 551 words.)