When Levin is in the carriage, he begins to have second thoughts about going to visit Anna, but Oblonsky reassures him that it will be fine. Anna’s divorce has been dragging on for months; even Princess Varvara, the notorious sponger, has left, finding the situation improper. Dolly is Anna’s only female visitor. To keep herself busy, Anna has been writing a children’s book and is helping take care of an English family.
Levin’s purported immunity to city life also shows some cracks when he’s considering the social implications of visiting Anna: although Levin claims not to care what others think, he does realize that Anna is in disgrace and that everyone else ostracizes her, and he feels uncomfortable with the situation, despite the fact that she’s, in a distant way, a family member and he should thus accept her.
Levin sees the portrait of Anna done in Italy by Mikhailov, the painter, and he is mesmerized by the woman’s beauty. Anna appears, and though she is less dazzling in person, the reality of her beauty adds a new attractiveness.
Just as Levin was dazzled first by the idea of being in love and then by the physical reality of it, so too he is enamored with both the idealized portrait of Anna and—even more so—with the person herself, as Levin is always a person who trusts physicality more than theory.