Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina


Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina: Part 7, Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

When Oblonsky arrives at Lydia’s, Karenin and the clairvoyant, Landau, are there. Countess Lydia speaks to Oblonsky about Karenin’s situation; Oblonsky makes a mental note to have Lydia put in a good word for him to the influential ministers. They discuss religion; Landau falls asleep. Lydia believes deeply in salvation, which makes Oblonsky, a non-religious man, rather uncomfortable, but he doesn’t want to enter a full-blown argument and make Lydia feel insulted. Lydia says that true believers are not guilty of sin: their sins have been redeemed by belief She rises to read a pious religious text, written in English; its main point is that a believer can never be unhappy because he is never alone. She reads it to put Landau in a clairvoyant trance.
Lydia puts on a deeply spiritual pose, intoning her mystical mumbo-jumbo as deep truth. Tolstoy expresses his deep skepticism about false spirituality through Oblonsky’s disapproval. But Oblonsky doesn’t pick a fight with Lydia: she is an influential presence in Moscow society, and he wants her to help him get that government post, so he internalizes his disagreement. One of the ways in which Tolstoy expresses his deep scorn for Lydia’s brand of mysticism is through Landau, the so-called psychic who appears to have zero actual spiritual abilities.
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