“I have some idea of it, but very vague.”
“No, you only say that; no doubt you know all about it as well as I do. I’m not a professor of sociology, of course, but it interested me, and really, if it interests you, you ought to study it.”
“But what conclusion have they come to?”
The two neighbors had risen, and Sviazhsky, once more checking Levin in his inconvenient habit of peeping into what was beyond the outer chambers of his mind, went to see his guests out.
Levin was insufferably bored that evening with the ladies; he was stirred as he had never been before by the idea that the dissatisfaction he was feeling with his system of managing his land was not an exceptional case, but the general condition of things in Russia; that the organization of some relation of the laborers to the soil in which they would work, as with the peasant he had met half-way to the Sviazhskys’, was not a dream, but a problem which must be solved. And it seemed to him that the problem could be solved, and that he ought to try and solve it.
After saying good-night to the ladies, and promising to stay the whole of the next day, so as to make an expedition on horseback with them to see an interesting ruin in the crown forest, Levin went, before going to bed, into his host’s study to get the books on the labor question that Sviazhsky had offered him. Sviazhsky’s study was a huge room, surrounded by bookcases and with two tables in it—one a massive writing table, standing in the middle of the room, and the other a round table, covered with recent numbers of reviews and journals in different languages, ranged like the rays of a star round the lamp. On the writing table was a stand of drawers marked with gold lettering, and full of papers of various sorts.
Sviazhsky took out the books, and sat down in a rocking-chair.
“What are you looking at there?” he said to Levin, who was standing at the round table looking through the reviews.
“Oh, yes, there’s a very interesting article here,” said Sviazhsky of the review Levin was holding in his hand. “It appears,” he went on, with eager interest, “that Friedrich was not, after all, the person chiefly responsible for the partition of Poland. It is proved...”
And with his characteristic clearness, he summed up those new, very important, and interesting revelations. Although Levin was engrossed at the moment by his ideas about the problem of the land, he wondered, as he heard Sviazhsky: “What is there inside of him? And why, why is he interested in the partition of Poland?” When Sviazhsky had finished, Levin could not help asking: “Well, and what then?” But there was nothing to follow. It was simply interesting that it had been proved to be so and so. But Sviazhsky did not explain, and saw no need to explain why it was interesting to him.