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Chapter 19

Going out of the nursery and being again alone, Levin went back
at once to the thought, in which there was something not clear.

Instead of going into the drawing room, where he heard voices, he
stopped on the terrace, and leaning his elbows on the parapet, he
gazed up at the sky.

It was quite dark now, and in the south, where he was looking,
there were no clouds. The storm had drifted on to the opposite
side of the sky, and there were flashes of lightning and distant
thunder from that quarter. Levin listened to the monotonous drip
from the lime trees in the garden, and looked at the triangle of
stars he knew so well, and the Milky Way with its branches that
ran through its midst. At each flash of lightning the Milky Way,
and even the bright stars, vanished, but as soon as the lightning
died away, they reappeared in their places as though some hand
had flung them back with careful aim.

"Well, what is it perplexes me?" Levin said to himself, feeling
beforehand that the solution of his difficulties was ready in his
soul, though he did not know it yet. "Yes, the one unmistakable,
incontestable manifestation of the Divinity is the law of right
and wrong, which has come into the world by revelation, and which
I feel in myself, and in the recognition of which--I don't make
myself, but whether I will or not--I am made one with other men
in one body of believers, which is called the church. Well, but
the Jews, the Mohammedans, the Confucians, the Buddhists--what of
them?" he put to himself the question he had feared to face.
"Can these hundreds of millions of men be deprived of that
highest blessing without which life has no meaning?" He pondered
a moment, but immediately corrected himself. "But what am I
questioning?" he said to himself. "I am questioning the relation
to Divinity of all the different religions of all mankind. I am
questioning the universal manifestation of God to all the world
with all those misty blurs. What am I about? To me
individually, to my heart has been revealed a knowledge beyond
all doubt, and unattainable by reason, and here I am obstinately
trying to express that knowledge in reason and words.

"Don't I know that the stars don't move?" he asked himself,
gazing at the bright planet which had shifted its position up to
the topmost twig of the birch-tree. "But looking at the
movements of the stars, I can't picture to myself the rotation of
the earth, and I'm right in saying that the stars move.

"And could the astronomers have understood and calculated
anything, if they had taken into account all the complicated and
varied motions of the earth? All the marvelous conclusions they
have reached about the distances, weights, movements, and
deflections of the heavenly bodies are only founded on the
apparent motions of the heavenly bodies about a stationary earth,
on that very motion I see before me now, which has been so for
millions of men during long ages, and was and will be always
alike, and can always be trusted. And just as the conclusions of
the astronomers would have been vain and uncertain if not founded
on observations of the seen heavens, in relation to a single
meridian and a single horizon, so would my conclusions be vain
and uncertain if not founded on that conception of right, which
has been and will be always alike for all men, which has been
revealed to me as a Christian, and which can always be trusted in
my soul. The question of other religions and their relations to
Divinity I have no right to decide, and no possibility of

"Oh, you haven't gone in then?" he heard Kitty's voice all at
once, as she came by the same way to the drawing-room.

"What is it? you're not worried about anything?" she said,
looking intently at his face in the starlight.

But she could not have seen his face if a flash of lightning had
not hidden the stars and revealed it. In that flash she saw his
face distinctly, and seeing him calm and happy, she smiled at

"She understands," he thought; "she knows what I'm thinking
about. Shall I tell her or not? Yes, I'll tell her." But at the
moment he was about to speak, she began speaking.

"Kostya! do something for me," she said; "go into the corner room
and see if they've made it all right for Sergey Ivanovitch. I
can't very well. See if they've put the new wash stand in it."

"Very well, I'll go directly," said Levin, standing up and
kissing her.

"No, I'd better not speak of it," he thought, when she had gone
in before him. "It is a secret for me alone, of vital importance
for me, and not to be put into words.

"This new feeling has not changed me, has not made me happy and
enlightened all of a sudden, as I had dreamed, just like the
feeling for my child. There was no surprise in this either.
Faith--or not faith--I don't know what it is--but this feeling
has come just as imperceptibly through suffering, and has taken
firm root in my soul.

"I shall go on in the same way, losing my temper with Ivan the
coachman, falling into angry discussions, expressing my opinions
tactlessly; there will be still the same wall between the holy of
holies of my soul and other people, even my wife; I shall still
go on scolding her for my own terror, and being remorseful for
it; I shall still be as unable to understand with my reason why
I pray, and I shall still go on praying; but my life now, my
whole life apart from anything that can happen to me, every
minute of it is no more meaningless, as it was before, but it has
the positive meaning of goodness, which I have the power to put
into it."


Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Fiction - Russian literature
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