Anna Karenin ...


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P. F. Collier & son
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Dec 31, 1917
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Constance Garnett

by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky

translated by Constance Garnett


Book I

The History of a Family

Chapter 1

Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov

ALEXEY Fyodorovitch Karamazov was the third son of Fyodor

Pavlovitch Karamazov, a landowner well known in our district in his

own day, and still remembered among us owing to his gloomy and

tragic death, which happened thirteen years ago, and which I shall

describe in its proper place. For the present I will only say that

this "landowner"- for so we used to call him, although he hardly spent

a day of his life on his own estate- was a strange type, yet one

pretty frequently to be met with, a type abject and vicious and at the

same time senseless. But he was one of those senseless persons who are

very well capable of looking after their worldly affairs, and,

apparently, after nothing else. Fyodor Pavlovitch, for instance, began

with next to nothing; his estate was of the smallest; he ran to dine

at other men's tables, and fastened on them as a toady, yet at his

death it appeared that he had a hundred thousand roubles in hard cash.

At the same time, he was all his life one of the most senseless,

fantastical fellows in the whole district. I repeat, it was not

stupidity- the majority of these fantastical fellows are shrewd and

intelligent enough- but just senselessness, and a peculiar national

form of it.

He was married twice, and had three sons, the eldest, Dmitri, by

his first wife, and two, Ivan and Alexey, by his second. Fyodor

Pavlovitch's first wife, Adelaida Ivanovna, belonged to a fairly

rich and distinguished noble family, also landowners in our

district, the Miusovs. How it came to pass that an heiress, who was

also a beauty, and moreover one of those vigorous intelligent girls,

so common in this generation, but sometimes also to be found in the

last, could have married such a worthless, puny weakling, as we all

called him, I won't attempt to explain. I knew a young lady of the

last "romantic" generation who after some years of an enigmatic

passion for a gentleman, whom she might quite easily have married at

any moment, invented insuperable obstacles to their union, and ended

by throwing herself one stormy night into a rather deep and rapid

river from a high bank, almost a precipice, and so perished,

entirely to satisfy her own caprice, and to be like Shakespeare's

Ophelia. Indeed, if this precipice, a chosen and favourite spot of

hers, had been less picturesque, if there had been a prosaic flat bank

in its place, most likely the suicide would never have taken place.

This is a fact, and probably there have been not a few similar

instances in the last two or three generations. Adelaida Ivanovna

Miusov's action was similarly, no doubt, an echo of other people's

ideas, and was due to the irritation caused by lack of mental freedom.

She wanted, perhaps, to show her feminine independence, to override

class distinctions and the despotism of her family. And a pliable

imagination persuaded her, we must suppose, for a brief moment, that

Fyodor Pavlovitch, in spite of his parasitic position, was one of

the bold and ironical spirits of that progressive epoch, though he

was, in fact, an ill-natured buffoon and nothing more. What gave the

marriage piquancy was that it was preceded by an elopement, and this

greatly captivated Adelaida Ivanovna's fancy. Fyodor Pavlovitch's

position at the time made him specially eager for any such enterprise,

for he was passionately anxious to make a career in one way or

another. To attach himself to a good family and obtain a dowry was

an alluring prospect. As for mutual love it did not exist

apparently, either in the bride or in him, in spite of Adelaida

Ivanovna's beauty. This was, perhaps, a unique case of the kind in the

life of Fyodor Pavlovitch, who was always of a voluptuous temper,

and ready to run after any petticoat on the slightest encouragement.

She seems to have been the only woman who made no particular appeal to his senses.

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