Anna Karenina Part III, chapter 21
Vronsky’s catching up with his friend Serpuhovskoy, a man who’s had great success in the military. The two have an interesting conversation about women, love, and marriage. Really Serpuhovskoy does most of the talking, and he has some interesting things to say.
Serpuhovskoy admits that Vronsky’s “known a greater number of women”,
“But I’m married, and believe me, in getting to know thorougly one’s wife, if one loves her, as someone has said, one gets to know all women better than if one knew thousands of them.”
My notes: “Interesting. Yes, I can agree with that. Sounds good–loving one’s wife. Knowing her as a person. Getting insight into the other sex through understanding one’s wife.”
Vronsky is listening attentively to the words of his experienced, married comrade.
“And here’s my opinion for you. Women are the chief stumbling block in a man’s career. It’s hard to love a woman and do anything. There’s only one way of having love conveniently without its being a hindrance–that’s marriage.
My notes: “convenient love? as in readily available? as in ‘this way I won’t get into trouble with another man’s wife’? How about… Marriage is good. Affairs are bad.”
The Serpuhovskoy goes on to compare love with carrying a fardeau in his hands. He says marriage is when the fardeau is tied on one’s back and his hands are free.
My notes: “What’s a fardeau? (I look it up) Oh, a burden. Loving a woman is a burden? So being married is still a burden, but a conveninet one?”
Help me, readers. Did Serpuhovskoy give Vronsky good advice or not?