Anna Karenina eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,033 pages of information about Anna Karenina.

The night spent by Levin on the haycock did not pass without result for him.  The way in which he had been managing his land revolted him and had lost all attraction for him.  In spite of the magnificent harvest, never had there been, or, at least, never it seemed to him, had there been so many hindrances and so many quarrels between him and the peasants as that year, and the origin of these failures and this hostility was now perfectly comprehensible to him.  The delight he had experienced in the work itself, and the consequent greater intimacy with the peasants, the envy he felt of them, of their life, the desire to adopt that life, which had been to him that night not a dream but an intention, the execution of which he had thought out in detail —­all this had so transformed his view of the farming of the land as he had managed it, that he could not take his former interest in it, and could not help seeing that unpleasant relation between him and the workpeople which was the foundation of it all.  The herd of improved cows such as Pava, the whole land ploughed over and enriched, the nine level fields surrounded with hedges, the two hundred and forty acres heavily manured, the seed sown in drills, and all the rest of it—­it was all splendid if only the work had been done for themselves, or for themselves and comrades —­people in sympathy with them.  But he saw clearly now (his work on a book of agriculture, in which the chief element in husbandry was to have been the laborer, greatly assisted him in this) that the sort of farming he was carrying on was nothing but a cruel and stubborn struggle between him and the laborers, in which there was on one side—­his side—­a continual intense effort to change everything to a pattern he considered better; on the other side, the natural order of things.  And in this struggle he saw that with immense expenditure of force on his side, and with no effort or even intention on the other side, all that was attained was that the work did not go to the liking of either side, and that splendid tools, splendid cattle and land were spoiled with no good to anyone.  Worst of all, the energy expended on this work was not simply wasted.  He could not help feeling now, since the meaning of this system had become clear to him, that the aim of his energy was a most unworthy one.  In reality, what was the struggle about?  He was struggling for every farthing of his share (and he could not help it, for he had only to relax his efforts, and he would not have had the money to pay his laborers’ wages), while they were only struggling to be able to do their work easily and agreeably, that is to say, as they were used to doing it.  It was for his interests that every laborer should work as hard as possible, and that while doing so he should keep his wits about him, so as to try not to break the winnowing machines, the horse rakes, the thrashing machines, that he should attend to what he was doing.  What the laborer wanted was to work as pleasantly

Project Gutenberg
Anna Karenina from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.