The Kreutzer Sonata, by Leo Tolstoy

Chapter VII.

“And it was very easy to capture me, since I was brought up under artificial conditions, like cucumbers in a hothouse. Our too abundant nourishment, together with complete physical idleness, is nothing but systematic excitement of the imagination. The men of our society are fed and kept like reproductive stallions. It is sufficient to close the valve — that is, for a young man to live a quiet life for some time — to produce as an immediate result a restlessness, which, becoming exaggerated by reflection through the prism of our unnatural life, provokes the illusion of love.

“All our idyls and marriage, all, are the result for the most part of our eating. Does that astonish you? For my part, I am astonished that we do not see it. Not far from my estate this spring some moujiks were working on a railway embankment. You know what a peasant’s food is — bread, kvass,* onions. With this frugal nourishment he lives, he is alert, he makes light work in the fields. But on the railway this bill of fare becomes cacha and a pound of meat. Only he restores this meat by sixteen hours of labor pushing loads weighing twelve hundred pounds.

* Kvass, a sort of cider.

“And we, who eat two pounds of meat and game, we who absorb all sorts of heating drinks and food, how do we expend it? In sensual excesses. If the valve is open, all goes well; but close it, as I had closed it temporarily before my marriage, and immediately there will result an excitement which, deformed by novels, verses, music, by our idle and luxurious life, will give a love of the finest water. I, too, fell in love, as everybody does, and there were transports, emotions, poesy; but really all this passion was prepared by mamma and the dressmakers. If there had been no trips in boats, no well-fitted garments, etc., if my wife had worn some shapeless blouse, and I had seen her thus at her home, I should not have been seduced.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 20:04