On the woman question he was on the side of the extreme advocates
of complete liberty for women, and especially their right to
labor. But he lived with his wife on such terms that their
affectionate childless home life was the admiration of everyone,
and arranged his wife's life so that she did nothing and could do
nothing but share her husband's efforts that her time should pass
as happily and as agreeably as possible.
If it had not been a characteristic of Levin's to put the most
favorable interpretation on people, Sviazhsky's character would
have presented no doubt or difficulty to him: he would have said
to himself, "a fool or a knave," and everything would have seemed
clear. But he could not say "a fool," because Sviazhsky was
unmistakably clever, and moreover, a highly cultivated man, who
was exceptionally modest over his culture. There was not a
subject he knew nothing of. But he did not display his knowledge
except when he was compelled to do so. Still less could Levin
say that he was a knave, as Sviazhsky was unmistakably an honest,
good-hearted, sensible man, who worked good-humoredly, keenly,
and perseveringly at his work; he was held in high honor by
everyone about him, and certainly he had never consciously done,
and was indeed incapable of doing, anything base.
Levin tried to understand him, and could not understand him, and
looked at him and his life as at a living enigma.
Levin and he were very friendly, and so Levin used to venture to
sound Sviazhsky, to try to get at the very foundation of his view
of life; but it was always in vain. Every time Levin tried to
penetrate beyond the outer chambers of Sviazhsky's mind, which
were hospitably open to all, he noticed that Sviazhsky was
slightly disconcerted; faint signs of alarm were visible in his
eyes, as though he were afraid Levin would understand him, and he
would give him a kindly, good-humored repulse.