Simon Griffee
Design consulting, art direction, photography.

Vronsky & Serpukhovskoy, Love & Marriage

Published 2011 February 13

‘And here is my opinion for you. Women are the main stumbling block in a man’s activity. It’s hard to love a woman and do anything. For this there exists one means of loving conveniently, without hidrance — that is marriage. How can I tell you, how can I tell you what I’m thinking,’ said Serpukhovskoy, who liked comparisons, ‘wait, wait! Yes, it’s as if you’re carrying a fardeau[1] and doing something with your hands is only possible if the fardeau is tied to your back — and that is marriage. And I felt it once I got married. I suddenly had my hands free. But dragging this fardeau around without marriage — that will make your hands so full that you won’t be able to do anything. Look at Mazankov, at Krupov. They ruined their careers on account of women.’

‘What sort of women!’ said Vronsky, recalling the Frenchwoman and the actress with whom the two men mentioned had had affairs.

‘So much the worse. The firmer a woman’s position in society, the worse it is. It’s the same as not only dragging the fardeau around in your arms, but tearing it away from someone else.’

‘You’ve never loved,’ Vronsky said softly, gazing before him and thinking of Anna.

‘Maybe not. But remember what I’ve told you. And also: women are all more material than men. We make something enourmous out of love, and they’re always terre-à-terre.’[2]

‘Right away, right away!’ he said to a footman who came in. But the footman had not come to call them again, as he thought. The footman brought a note for Vronsky.

‘A man brought it from Princess Tverskoy.’

Vronsky unsealed the letter and flushed.

‘I have a headache, I’m going home,’ he said to Serpukhovskoy.

‘Good-bye, then. Do you give me carte blanche?

‘We’ll talk later, I’ll look you up in Petersburg.’

— Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Part 3, XXI

[1] Burden.

[2] Down to earth.