Anna Karenina on contraception

“What children?” Anna said, not looking at Dolly, and half closing her eyes.

“Annie and those to come . . .”

“He need not trouble on that score; I shall have no more children.”

“How can you tell that you won’t?”

“I shall not, because I don’t wish it.” And, in spite of all her emotion, Anna smiled, as she caught the naive expression of curiosity, wonder, and horror on Dolly’s face.

“The doctor told me after my illness . . .”

* * * * * * * * *

“Impossible!” said Dolly, opening her eyes wide.

For her this was one of those discoveries the consequences and deductions from which are so immense that all that one feels for the first instant is that it is impossible to take it all in, and that one will have to reflect a great, great deal upon it.

This discovery, suddenly throwing light on all those families of one or two children, which had hitherto been so incomprehensible to her, aroused so many ideas, reflections, and contradictory emotions, that she had nothing to say, and simply gazed with wide-open eyes of wonder at Anna. This was the very thing she had been dreaming of, but now learning that it was possible, she was horrified. She felt that it was too simple a solution of too complicated a problem.

“N’est-ce pas immoral?” was all she said, after a brief pause.

Part VI, c. 23.

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1 Comment

  1. Antoinette Cleary said,

    May 31, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I still am horrified…


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