Anna Karenina eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,033 pages of information about Anna Karenina.
apparently so commonplace, of marrying off one’s daughters.  The panics that had been lived through, the thoughts that had been brooded over, the money that had been wasted, and the disputes with her husband over marrying the two elder girls, Darya and Natalia!  Now, since the youngest had come out, she was going through the same terrors, the same doubts, and still more violent quarrels with her husband than she had over the elder girls.  The old prince, like all fathers indeed, was exceedingly punctilious on the score of the honor and reputation of his daughters.  He was irrationally jealous over his daughters, especially over Kitty, who was his favorite.  At every turn he had scenes with the princess for compromising her daughter.  The princess had grown accustomed to this already with her other daughters, but now she felt that there was more ground for the prince’s touchiness.  She saw that of late years much was changed in the manners of society, that a mother’s duties had become still more difficult.  She saw that girls of Kitty’s age formed some sort of clubs, went to some sort of lectures, mixed freely in men’s society; drove about the streets alone, many of them did not curtsey, and, what was the most important thing, all the girls were firmly convinced that to choose their husbands was their own affair, and not their parents’.  “Marriages aren’t made nowadays as they used to be,” was thought and said by all these young girls, and even by their elders.  But how marriages were made now, the princess could not learn from any one.  The French fashion—­of the parents arranging their children’s future—­was not accepted; it was condemned.  The English fashion of the complete independence of girls was also not accepted, and not possible in Russian society.  The Russian fashion of match-making by the offices of intermediate persons was for some reason considered unseemly; it was ridiculed by every one, and by the princess herself.  But how girls were to be married, and how parents were to marry them, no one knew.  Everyone with whom the princess had chanced to discuss the matter said the same thing:  “Mercy on us, it’s high time in our day to cast off all that old-fashioned business.  It’s the young people have to marry; and not their parents; and so we ought to leave the young people to arrange it as they choose.”  It was very easy for anyone to say that who had no daughters, but the princess realized that in the process of getting to know each other, her daughter might fall in love, and fall in love with someone who did not care to marry her or who was quite unfit to be her husband.  And, however much it was instilled into the princess that in our times young people ought to arrange their lives for themselves, she was unable to believe it, just as she would have been unable to believe that, at any time whatever, the most suitable playthings for children five years old ought to be loaded pistols.  And so the princess was more uneasy over Kitty than she had been over her elder sisters.

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Anna Karenina from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.