Anna Karenina Part 8, Chapter 9 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 8, Chapter 9 Summary

Though his spiritual doubts grow weaker and stronger at times, they never leave Levin. He reads and thinks, and the more he reads and thinks the further away he feels from his goal of spiritual understanding. His time in Moscow and the country has convinced him that he will not find what he seeks in the materialists, so he begins studying philosophers such as Plato, Kant, Hegel, and Schopenhauer who give a non-materialistic explanation of life.

The ideas of these men seem fruitful to him while he is reading or when he is seeking to refute the arguments of other theories; however, as soon as he tries to apply these theories to his real life, everything falls apart. Once, for a few days, Levin exchanges the word will for love and is content; then, after a few days, the effect fades and he is again wearing a muslin garment with no real warmth to it.

Sergey Ivanovitch advises him to read the theological writings of Homiakov. At first Levin is repelled by the “elegant, epigrammatic, argumentative” style, but soon he is impressed by the doctrines of the church which he reads in one of his volumes. First Levin is struck by the idea that the understanding of divine truths has not been given to any one man; instead, they have been given to a body of men bound together with love—the church. Levin is delighted at how much easier it is to believe in a living church which embraces all the beliefs of men and has God at its head. In this belief, it is easy to accept faith in God, creation, the fall, and redemption.

After reading a Catholic writer’s history of the church, followed by a Greek Orthodox writer’s history of the church, however, Levin sees that each denies the authority of the other. Homiakov’s arguments lose their charm for him, and the church again crumbles into dust just as it has after he reads every philosopher’s work.

That entire spring, Levin...

(The entire section is 521 words.)