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
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.