Levin half smiled.
"Yes, you're done for," resumed Oblonsky. "But what's to be
"Don't steal rolls."
Stepan Arkadyevitch laughed outright.
"Oh, moralist! But you must understand, there are two women; one
insists only on her rights, and those rights are your love, which
you can't give her; and the other sacrifices everything for you
and asks for nothing. What are you to do? How are you to act?
There's a fearful tragedy in it."
"If you care for my profession of faith as regards that, I'll
tell you that I don't believe there was any tragedy about it.
And this is why. To my mind, love...both the sorts of love,
which you remember Plato defines in his Banquet, served as the
test of men. Some men only understand one sort, and some only
the other. And those who only know the non-platonic love have no
need to talk of tragedy. In such love there can be no sort of
tragedy. 'I'm much obliged for the gratification, my humble
respects'--that's all the tragedy. And in platonic love there
can be no tragedy, because in that love all is clear and pure,
At that instant Levin recollected his own sins and the inner
conflict he had lived through. And he added unexpectedly:
"But perhaps you are right. Very likely...I don't know, I don't
"It's this, don't you see," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, "you're
very much all of a piece. That's your strong point and your
failing. You have a character that's all of a piece, and you
want the whole of life to be of a piece too--but that's not how
it is. You despise public official work because you want the
reality to be invariably corresponding all the while with the
aim--and that's not how it is. You want a man's work, too,
always to have a defined aim, and love and family life always to
be undivided--and that's not how it is. All the variety, all the
charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow."