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The misery which oppressed Levine, and the longing for suicide which he concealed from Kitty, Tolstoy was at this period concealing from his wife. But he had not as yet achieved the calm which he attributed to his hero. To be truthful, this mental state is hardly communicated to the reader. We feel that it is desired rather than realised, and that Levine’s relapse among his doubts is imminent. Tolstoy was not duped by his desires. He had the greatest difficulty in reaching the end of his work. Anna Karenin wearied him before he had finished it.[1] He could work no longer. He remained at a standstill; inert, without will-power, a prey to self-terror and self-disgust. There, in the emptiness of his life, rose the great wind which issued from the abyss; the vertigo of death.

Tolstoy told of these terrible years at a later

  1. “Now I am harnessing myself again to the wearisome and vulgar Anna Karenin, with the sole desire of getting rid of it as quickly as possible.” (Letters to Fet, August 26, 1875.) “I must finish the romance, which is wearying me.” (Ibid. March 1, 1876.)