Destroying the Thing We Live By

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On sex, marriage, and the baby bust

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T hroughout Anna Karenina, Konstantin Levin functions as a parallel protagonist to the title character, Anna. He has the same tragic potential and, like Anna, seriously entertains suicide (though, unlike Anna, he does not go through with it). What saves him in the end is a profound realization about the source of his unhappiness.

Levin recalls having seen his sister-in-law scolding her children for messing around with the food and crockery. She had explained to them that “if they smashed the cups, they would have nothing to drink their tea out of, and that if they wasted the milk, they would have

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