Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication Symbol Analysis

Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication Symbol Icon
For all of the novel’s verbosity, Tolstoy ultimately distrusts language, believing that actions speak louder than words. When Levin proposes to Kitty, they have such a deep connection that they do not even need to speak the words: he presents her with a code, and she replies in kind. In contrast, Anna and Karenin send letters back and forth about the divorce, but each written correspondence only heightens their failed communication. Anna also writes hectic notes to Vronsky with increasing frequency as their relationship disintegrates. The language in which characters speak also indicates their level of hypocrisy: when people want to pretend they’re members of high society, they speak in French, the intellectual and cultural language of Western society, rather than in their own native Russian. Tolstoy’s distrust in the written word is also apparent with Levin’s book project: although Levin spends a great deal of time writing about the state of the Russian peasant, agriculture, and humanity in general, he ultimately realizes that attending to his own family’s needs and dealing with the practical, pragmatic, physical considerations of his individual life are more important than writing about grand philosophical concerns.

Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication Quotes in Anna Karenina

The Anna Karenina quotes below all refer to the symbol of Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication. 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:
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Viking edition of Anna Karenina published in 2000.
Part 1, Chapter 29 Quotes

Anna Arkadyevna read and understood, but it was unpleasant for her to read, that is, to follow the reflection of other people’s lives. She wanted too much to live herself.

Related Characters: Anna Arkadyevna Karenina
Related Symbols: Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 2, Chapter 7 Quotes

“Don’t you know that you are my whole life? But I know no peace and cannot give you any. All of myself, my love...yes. I cannot think of you and myself separately. You and I are one for me. And I do not see the possibility of peace ahead either for me or for you. I see the possibility of despair, of unhappiness... or I see the possibility of happiness, such happiness!...Isn’t it possible?” he added with his lips only; but she heard him.

Related Characters: Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky (speaker), Anna Arkadyevna Karenina
Related Symbols: Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

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She strained all the forces of her mind to say what she ought to say; but instead she rested her eyes on him, filled with love, and made no answer.

Related Characters: Anna Arkadyevna Karenina
Related Symbols: Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 2, Chapter 11 Quotes

“Not a word more,” she repeated, and with an expression of cold despair on her face, which he found strange, she left him. She felt that at that moment she could not put into words her feeling of shame, joy, and horror before this entry into a new life, and she did not want to speak of it, to trivialize this feeling with imprecise words. But later, too, the next day and the day after that, she not only found no words in which she could express all the complexity of these feelings, but was unable even to find thoughts in which she could reflect with herself on all that was in her soul.

Related Characters: Anna Arkadyevna Karenina (speaker), Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky
Related Symbols: Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 4, Chapter 2 Quotes

“What was that? What? What was that terrible thing I saw in my dream? Yes, yes. The muzhik tracker, I think, small, dirty, with a disheveled beard, was bending down and doing something, and he suddenly said some strange words in French. Yes that’s all there was to the dream,” he said to himself. “But why was it so horrible?”

Related Characters: Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky (speaker)
Related Symbols: Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication, Dreams and Spiritualism
Page Number: 355
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt

Part 4, Chapter 3 Quotes

“And this something turned, and I saw it was a muzhik with a disheveled beard, small and frightening. I wanted to run away, but he bent over a sack and rummaged in it with his hands...” And she showed how he rummaged in the sack. There was horror on her face. And Vronsky, recalling his dream, felt the same horror filling his soul.

Related Characters: Anna Arkadyevna Karenina (speaker), Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky
Related Symbols: Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication, Dreams and Spiritualism
Page Number: 361
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 4, Chapter 13 Quotes

“Here,” he said, and wrote the initial letters: w, y, a, m: t, c, b, d, i, m, n, o, t? These letters meant: “When you answered me: ‘that cannot be,’ did it mean never or then?” ... She wrote, t, I, c, g, n, o, a ... And he wrote three letters. But she was reading after his hand, and before he finished writing, she finished it herself and wrote the answer: “Yes.”

Related Characters: Konstantin (Kostya) Dmitrich Levin (speaker), Princess Katerina (Kitty) Alexandrovna Shcherbatsky (speaker)
Related Symbols: Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication
Page Number: 397-398
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 7, Chapter 24 Quotes

“Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be. But if you don’t love me, it would be better to say so.”

Related Characters: Anna Arkadyevna Karenina (speaker), Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky
Related Symbols: Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication
Page Number: 744
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication Symbol Timeline in Anna Karenina

The timeline below shows where the symbol Written Language, Foreign Language, and Communication appears in Anna Karenina. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 10
Society and Class Theme Icon
...is happy to see Oblonsky. Oblonsky orders an elaborate meal, speaking in Russian rather than French. Though Levin eats the meal, he would have been more comfortable with plain bread and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Physical Activity and Movement Theme Icon
Farming and Rural Life Theme Icon
...him, but he continues to 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... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 20
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...both know that he is also going to visit Anna. First, however, Vronsky reads a letter from his mother reproaching him for not visiting and a note from his brother that... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 21
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...warns him to be calm before the race. In the carriage ride, Vronsky reads the letters from his mother and brother, and for the first time since the start of the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 22
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Vronsky speaks to Anna in French, as “you” in Russian is either too intimate or too cold. He asks Anna what... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 24
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Physical Activity and Movement Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...crowd, deliberately avoiding Princess Betsy and Anna. Vronsky’s brother tells him to answer his mother’s letter. Vronsky sees his only real rival in the race, a huge stallion named Gladiator. Vronsky... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 6
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Physical Activity and Movement Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Farming and Rural Life Theme Icon
...Koznyshev about finishing the meadow. Levin eats a late supper, and Koznyshev gives Levin a letter from Oblonsky, which asks Levin to help Dolly on her country estate. Koznyshev tells Levin... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 10
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Farming and Rural Life Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...thinks that Dolly is giving him false hope. Dolly’s daughter comes in, and Dolly speaks French with her, which makes Levin think that she’s being insincere. After tea, Dolly is no... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 14
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
When he arrives in Petersburg, Karenin goes straight to his study and writes Anna a letter in French, requesting that she return to Petersburg and enclosing money. He sends the letter... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 15
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...will go to Moscow that day, taking only themselves and Seryozha’s nurse. Anna writes a note to Karenin explaining that she is leaving for Moscow with their son. She begins a... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 16
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
As the house is preparing for Anna to leave for Moscow, Karenin’s letter arrives, and Anna is horrified when she reads that he demands that she return to... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 18
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...company, she knows that Vronsky is waiting at the rendezvous she has arranged on Betsy’s note. (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 2
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Vronsky receives a note from Anna one evening requesting that he meet her at her home while Karenin is... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 3
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...describes a dream she had about a peasant with a dirty beard who speaks in French, just like Vronsky’s dream. Although she is horrified, all at once her face changes from... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 4
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...has disobeyed his orders. The next morning, Karenin goes into Anna room and snatches Vronsky’s letters away from her. Karenin speaks cruelly to Anna, and she protests, but he is telling... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 5
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...wants to prove adultery, says the lawyer, he will need witnesses, not just the love letters Karenin took from Anna. Karenin says he will inform the lawyer soon of his decision,... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 8
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...Karenin receives a delegation from the racial minorities in the provinces; he also writes a letter to the lawyer to act at his discretion, enclosing the love letters from Vronsky to... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 13
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...knows Kitty is, and they communicate in a nearly wordless fashion. Levin writes the initial letters of each word of a sentence on the table in chalk. Kitty understands him precisely... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 16
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...both of these with the Prince, and with the father’s permission, he gives Kitty a diary that explains both of these matters. Kitty accepts him, though tearfully, and Levin feels even... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 17
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...conversation about infidelity, in particular one man’s praise of dueling. A valet brings Karenin two telegrams. One tells him that a rival of his at work has received the promotion Karenin... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 22
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...to talk to Karenin. Oblonsky begins to talk about Anna, but Karenin hands him a letter that says that even though it is extremely painful, he will grant Anna whatever she... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 7
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...his life. To hide his conversation from the servants, Vronsky speaks to his friend in French, saying that he is traveling with Anna; the friend looks at it in the right... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 16
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
At tea, Kitty reads a letter from Dolly. Levin has a letter from Marya, Nikolai’s on-again mistress, saying that Nikolai is... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 23
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...and Anna are in Petersburg, but hides the fact from Karenin. Anna sends Lydia a letter asking Lydia to arrange a meeting between Anna and Seryozha. Lydia is irritated and tells... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 25
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lydia shows Karenin Anna’s letter, and Karenin is willing to grant Anna’s request, but Lydia talks him out of it.... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 29
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...extremely difficult to do. Anna, learning that Lydia and Karenin are close, writes Lydia the letter, but Lydia sends no reply, which hurts Anna; the eventual reply makes her angry. Anna... (full context)
Part 6, Chapter 18
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...them to be. Vronsky’s country estate is very luxuriously and lavishly appointed. Anna speaks in French to Vronsky and Veslovsky when they arrive, and though she apologizes for the quality of... (full context)
Part 6, Chapter 19
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...is wryly amused by the fight between Veslovsky and Levin, because Veslovsky, she says in French, seems so simple and nice. (full context)
Part 6, Chapter 21
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...now, but Vronsky sees himself and Anna as bound together. Anna needs to write a letter to Karenin requesting a divorce, which she hasn’t done yet. Dolly promises to talk to... (full context)
Part 6, Chapter 31
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...men prepare to go out for more amusement after dinner. Vronsky’s butler brings in a letter from Anna, which already annoys him, since he knows it will be a message that... (full context)
Part 6, Chapter 32
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...That night, she writes to Vronsky in fear of losing him and sends the contradictory letter immediately; when she re-reads it the next day, she regrets the sentiment but is pleased... (full context)
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...there’s business in Moscow, she will go with him. Anna says she will write the letter to Karenin asking for a divorce. Although Vronsky says that he doesn’t wish to be... (full context)
Part 7, Chapter 22
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...is speaking about Landau, not him. Through his sleep (or feigned sleep), Landau says, in French, that the person who came in last wants something and should leave. Oblonsky, completely perplexed... (full context)
Part 7, Chapter 26
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...as he sleeps in his study. Anna has her recurring nightmare with the peasant muttering French words. When Anna wakes up, she initially feels better, but then she sees the young... (full context)
Part 7, Chapter 28
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Adultery and Jealousy Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
Compassion and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...also visiting, but Dolly comes out alone to receive Anna. Anna asks to read the letter that Karenin sent Oblonsky refusing the divorce, but when she reads it, she says nothing.... (full context)
Part 8, Chapter 5
Marriage and Family Life Theme Icon
Physical Activity and Movement Theme Icon
Society and Class Theme Icon
...his duty to respect Vronsky for going to war. Koznyshev offers to write Vronsky a letter introducing him to influential people, but Vronsky says that his life has no value to... (full context)