Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

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Levin’s brother, Nikolai, has fallen prey to gambling and alcohol addictions and is quite sick, ultimately dying a protracted death. Though Nikolai has passionate political and intellectual views, they fade into the background when his illness takes over. Nikolai’s death makes Levin deeply troubled as he tries to grapple with existential questions of life and death.

Nikolai Dmitrich Levin Quotes in Anna Karenina

The Anna Karenina quotes below are all either spoken by Nikolai Dmitrich Levin or refer to Nikolai Dmitrich Levin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Viking edition of Anna Karenina published in 2000.
Part 5, Chapter 20 Quotes

The sight of his brother and the proximity of death renewed in Levin’s soul that feeling of horror at the inscrutability and, with that, the nearness and inevitability of death, which had seized him on that autumn evening when his brother had come for a visit. The feeling was now stronger than before; he felt even less capable than before of understanding the meaning of death, and its inevitability appeared still more horrible to him; but now, thanks to his wife’s nearness, the feeling did not drive him to despair: in spite of death, he felt the necessity to live and to love. He felt that love saved him from despair and that under the threat of despair this love was becoming still stronger and purer.

Related Characters: Konstantin (Kostya) Dmitrich Levin , Princess Katerina (Kitty) Alexandrovna Shcherbatsky, Nikolai Dmitrich Levin
Related Symbols: Natural World
Page Number: 504
Explanation and Analysis:

Nikolai’s death in the novel is the culmination, on the one hand, of tragedy and grief. However, his passing is ultimately part of the natural cycle of life, and it paves the way for rejuvenation and happiness. Tolstoy pairs Nikolai’s death with Kitty’s discovery of her pregnancy to celebrate the cycle of life. Levin can tolerate his brother’s passing because he has found his larger place within the natural world. When he had only his brother to cling to as a family figure, Levin tied his own self-worth with his brother’s illness. However, because he now has Kitty’s love, and because he loves Kitty, Levin does not fall into an abyss of despair over his brother’s passing. Instead, Levin grieves for Nikolai in a mature, balanced fashion, discovering that his grief can be balanced in an equal and opposite way by his emotions towards Kitty. Nikolai’s death crystallizes Levin’s deep bond with Kitty. Kitty helped care for Nikolai on his deathbed, easing one person out of the world as a new life, unbeknownst to her, began to quicken in her womb.

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Part 7, Chapter 14 Quotes

He knew and felt only that what was being accomplished was similar to what had been accomplished a year ago in a hotel in a provincial capital, on the deathbed of his brother Nikolai. But that had been grief and this was joy. But that grief and this joy were equally outside all ordinary circumstances of life, were like holes in this ordinary life, through which something higher showed. And just as painful, as tormenting in its coming, was what was now accomplished; and just as inconceivably, in contemplating this higher thing, the soul rose to such heights as it had never known before, where reason was no longer able to overtake it.

Related Characters: Konstantin (Kostya) Dmitrich Levin (speaker), Princess Katerina (Kitty) Alexandrovna Shcherbatsky, Nikolai Dmitrich Levin
Related Symbols: Natural World, Dreams and Spiritualism
Page Number: 713
Explanation and Analysis:

Levin sees both the death of Nikolai and the birth of his child as events that stand outside the scope of his normal life. At this point in the novel, Levin has proceeded throughout most of his daily activities without giving much thought to a higher power. However, in moments of extreme emotion, Levin embodies the cliché that "there are no atheists in foxholes." When he finds himself in the presence of birth or death, and feels powerless to make any change happen by his own physical means, Levin finds himself repeating a prayer over and over. He feels so deeply connected to Kitty that their bond transcends reason and logic and makes him aware of a force beyond the realm of ordinary existence.

Levin’s transformation from a staunch atheist into an avowed believer mirrors Tolstoy’s spiritual journey. When Tolstoy was a young man, he was a firm atheist, but by the end of his life, he had converted and become an extremely spiritual person. Levin’s deep connection with the natural world through his farm is paralleled by his growing connection to the supernatural world through faith.

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Nikolai Dmitrich Levin Character Timeline in Anna Karenina

The timeline below shows where the character Nikolai Dmitrich Levin appears in Anna Karenina. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 8
Marriage and Family Life  Theme Icon
Society and Class  Theme Icon
...disenchanted by seeing how they work in reality. Koznyshev says that their sickly older brother, Nikolai, is back in Moscow and has sent Koznyshev a note telling the younger brothers to... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 24
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...stint in Moscow society, Levin feels worthless and ill at ease. He goes to visit Nikolai, his troubled brother, and finds him thinner and sicklier than when they last saw each... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 25
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As Nikolai tells Levin about his work and political life, Levin finds it difficult to listen because... (full context)
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Over dinner, Nikolai discusses his socialist views, growing heated in his dismissal of institutions, and Levin is uncomfortable... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
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Farming and Rural Life Theme Icon
...keep up his work on the farm. He receives a letter saying that his brother Nikolai is ill, and Levin persuades Nikolai to go to a foreign spa. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 30
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...although Kitty likes them from afar, she is repulsed when she discovers who they are: Nikolai, Levin’s brother, and Marya, the prostitute he treats as a wife. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 31
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...mother is resistant at first, but when she learns that Varenka has intervened to salvage Nikolai’s reputation, she allows Kitty to befriend the girl. Kitty is delighted. (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 31
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Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The guest is Levin’s brother Nikolai, who is thin and wasted, although he claims that his health is improved. Nikolai says... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 32
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The next morning, Nikolai is irritable. Levin wishes that he and Nikolai could have a frank conversation about Nikolai’s... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 16
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At tea, Kitty reads a letter from Dolly. Levin has a letter from Marya, Nikolai’s on-again mistress, saying that Nikolai is very ill. Levin is determined to go to Moscow... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 17
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The hotel where Nikolai and Marya are staying is pretentious yet dirty and dingy. Marya is embarrassed by the... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 18
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Levin can’t bear to be with Nikolai, but he can’t bear to not be there. Kitty, on the other hand, takes an... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 19
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...a deep wisdom about death that he will never have. Levin is extremely uncomfortable around Nikolai and cannot face the fact of his brother’s death, but Kitty is able to take... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 20
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When Nikolai is given the last rites, he feels much better for a moment, but the illusion... (full context)
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...Levin and Kitty have rushed over, Kitty become sick and vomits. That night, she visits Nikolai. Marya predicts that this is the night he will die, and so he does. After... (full context)
Part 7, Chapter 14
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...and extremely quickly. He feels the same frenetic, frenzied way he did when his brother, Nikolai, was dying: even though that was an occasion of grief and this is a time... (full context)
Part 8, Chapter 8
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Ever since Nikolai’s death, Levin has pondered life and death; he is afraid of his ignorance of death.... (full context)