Anna Karenina eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,311 pages of information about Anna Karenina.

“There’s no doubt our society is still so barbarous (it’s not the same in England) that very many”—­and among these were those whose opinion Alexey Alexandrovitch particularly valued—­“look favorably on the duel; but what result is attained by it?  Suppose I call him out,” Alexey Alexandrovitch went on to himself, and vividly picturing the night he would spend after the challenge, and the pistol aimed at him, he shuddered, and knew that he never would do it—­“suppose I call him out.  Suppose I am taught,” he went on musing, “to shoot; I press the trigger,” he said to himself, closing his eyes, “and it turns out I have killed him,” Alexey Alexandrovitch said to himself, and he shook his head as though to dispel such silly ideas.  “What sense is there in murdering a man in order to define one’s relation to a guilty wife and son?  I should still just as much have to decide what I ought to do with her.  But what is more probable and what would doubtless occur—­I should be killed or wounded.  I, the innocent person, should be the victim—­killed or wounded.  It’s even more senseless.  But apart from that, a challenge to fight would be an act hardly honest on my side.  Don’t I know perfectly well that my friends would never allow me to fight a duel—­would never allow the life of a statesman, needed by Russia, to be exposed to danger?  Knowing perfectly well beforehand that the matter would never come to real danger, it would amount to my simply trying to gain a certain sham reputation by such a challenge.  That would be dishonest, that would be false, that would be deceiving myself and others.  A duel is quite irrational, and no one expects it of me.  My aim is simply to safeguard my reputation, which is essential for the uninterrupted pursuit of my public duties.”  Official duties, which had always been of great consequence in Alexey Alexandrovitch’s eyes, seemed of special importance to his mind at this moment.  Considering and rejecting the duel, Alexey Alexandrovitch turned to divorce—­another solution selected by several of the husbands he remembered.  Passing in mental review all the instances he knew of divorces (there were plenty of them in the very highest society with which he was very familiar), Alexey Alexandrovitch could not find a single example in which the object of divorce was that which he had in view.  In all these instances the husband had practically ceded or sold his unfaithful wife, and the very party which, being in fault, had not the right to contract a fresh marriage, had formed counterfeit, pseudo-matrimonial ties with a self-styled husband.  In his own case, Alexey Alexandrovitch saw that a legal divorce, that is to say, one in which only the guilty wife would be repudiated, was impossible of attainment.  He saw that the complex conditions of the life they led made the coarse proofs of his wife’s guilt, required by the law, out of the question; he saw that a certain refinement in that life would not admit of such proofs being brought forward, even if he had them, and that to bring forward such proofs would damage him in the public estimation more than it would her.

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Anna Karenina from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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