- Cheerful, robust society man, government guy
- Big appetite for food, drink, fun, women
- everyone loves him, he takes almost nothing seriously
- married to Dolly, but has a wandering eye
- overdraws all finances with extravagant lifestyle; gets the secretary position to earn him 8,000 more roubles
- Masterfully social (the dinner party)
- Note the extraordinary comparison of how he feels in Moscow vs Petersburg
"You don’t admit, I know, that one can be fond of new rolls when one has had one’s rations of bread—to your mind it’s a crime; but I don’t count life as life without love," he said, taking Levin’s question his own way. "What am I to do? I’m made that way. And really, one does so little harm to anyone, and gives oneself so much pleasure..." "What! is there something new, then?" queried Levin. "Yes, my boy, there is! There, do you see, you know the type of Ossian’s women.... Women, such as one sees in dreams.... Well, these women are sometimes to be met in reality ... and these women are terrible. Woman, don’t you know, is such a subject that however much you study it, it’s always perfectly new." "Well, then, it would be better not to study it." "No. Some mathematician has said that enjoyment lies in the search for truth, not in the finding it."
Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina: Illustrated (The Evergreen Classics) (p. 173). Kindle Edition.
Stepan Arkadyevitch, as usual, did not waste his time in Petersburg. In Petersburg, besides business, his sister’s divorce, and his coveted appointment, he wanted, as he always did, to freshen himself up, as he said, after the mustiness of Moscow. In spite of its cafés chantants and its omnibuses, Moscow was yet a stagnant bog. Stepan Arkadyevitch always felt it. After living for some time in Moscow, especially in close relations with his family, he was conscious of a depression of spirits. After being a long time in Moscow without a change, he reached a point when he positively began to be worrying himself over his wife’s ill-humor and reproaches, over his children’s health and education, and the petty details of his official work; even the fact of being in debt worried him. But he had only to go and stay a little while in Petersburg, in the circle there in which he moved, where people lived—really lived—instead of vegetating as in Moscow, and all such ideas vanished and melted away at once, like wax before the fire. His wife?... Only that day he had been talking to Prince Tchetchensky. Prince Tchetchensky had a wife and family, grown-up pages in the corps, ... and he had another illegitimate family of children also. Though the first family was very nice too, Prince Tchetchensky felt happier in his second family; and he used to take his eldest son with him to his second family, and told Stepan Arkadyevitch that he thought it good for his son, enlarging his ideas. What would have been said to that in Moscow? His children? In Petersburg children did not prevent their parents from enjoying life. The children were brought up in schools, and there was no trace of the wild idea that prevailed in Moscow, in Lvov’s household, for instance, that all the luxuries of life were for the children, while the parents have nothing but work and anxiety. Here people understood that a man is in duty bound to live for himself, as every man of culture should live. His official duties? Official work here was not the stiff, hopeless drudgery that it was in Moscow. Here there was some interest in official life. A chance meeting, a service rendered, a happy phrase, a knack of facetious mimicry, and a man’s career might be made in a trice. So it had been with Bryantsev, whom Stepan Arkadyevitch had met the previous day, and who was one of the highest functionaries in government now. There was some interest in official work like that. The Petersburg attitude on pecuniary matters had an especially soothing effect on Stepan Arkadyevitch. Bartnyansky, who must spend at least fifty thousand to judge by the style he lived in, had made an interesting comment the day before on that subject. As they were talking before dinner, Stepan Arkadyevitch said to Bartnyansky: "You’re friendly, I fancy, with Mordvinsky; you might do me a favor: say a word to him, please, for me. There’s an appointment I should like to get—secretary of the agency..." "Oh, I shan’t remember all that, if you tell it to me.... But what possesses you to have to do with railways and Jews?... Take it as you will, it’s a low business." Stepan Arkadyevitch did not say to Bartnyansky that it was a "growing thing"—Bartnyansky would not have understood that. "I want the money, I’ve nothing to live on." "You’re living, aren’t you?" "Yes, but in debt." "Are you, though? Heavily?" said Bartnyansky sympathetically. "Very heavily: twenty thousand." Bartnyansky broke into good-humored laughter. "Oh, lucky fellow!" said he. "My debts mount up to a million and a half, and I’ve nothing, and still I can live, as you see!" And Stepan Arkadyevitch saw the correctness of this view not in words only but in actual fact. Zhivahov owed three hundred thousand, and hadn’t a farthing to bless himself with, and he lived, and in style too! Count Krivtsov was considered a hopeless case by everyone, and yet he kept two mistresses. Petrovsky had run through five millions, and still lived in just the same style, and was even a manager in the financial department with a salary of twenty thousand. But besides this, Petersburg had physically an agreeable effect on Stepan Arkadyevitch. It made him younger. In Moscow he sometimes found a gray hair in his head, dropped asleep after dinner, stretched, walked slowly upstairs, breathing heavily, was bored by the society of young women, and did not dance at balls. In Petersburg he always felt ten years younger. His experience in Petersburg was exactly what had been described to him on the previous day by Prince Pyotr Oblonsky, a man of sixty, who had just come back from abroad: "We don’t know the way to live here," said Pyotr Oblonsky. "I spent the summer in Baden, and you wouldn’t believe it, I felt quite a young man. At a glimpse of a pretty woman, my thoughts.... One dines and drinks a glass of wine, and feels strong and ready for anything. I came home to Russia—had to see my wife, and, what’s more, go to my country place; and there, you’d hardly believe it, in a fortnight I’d got into a dressing gown and given up dressing for dinner. Needn’t say I had no thoughts left for pretty women. I became quite an old gentleman. There was nothing left for me but to think of my eternal salvation. I went off to Paris—I was as right as could be at once." Stepan Arkadyevitch felt exactly the difference that Pyotr Oblonsky described. In Moscow he degenerated so much that if he had had to be there for long together, he might in good earnest have come to considering his salvation; in Petersburg he felt himself a man of the world again. Between Princess Betsy Tverskaya and Stepan Arkadyevitch there had long existed rather curious relations. Stepan Arkadyevitch always flirted with her in jest, and used to say to her, also in jest, the most unseemly things, knowing that nothing delighted her so much. The day after his conversation with Karenin, Stepan Arkadyevitch went to see her, and felt so youthful that in this jesting flirtation and nonsense he recklessly went so far that he did not know how to extricate himself, as unluckily he was so far from being attracted by her that he thought her positively disagreeable. What made it hard to change the conversation was the fact that he was very attractive to her. So that he was considerably relieved at the arrival of Princess Myakaya, which cut short their tête-à-tête.
Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina: Illustrated (The Evergreen Classics) (pp. 724-726). Kindle Edition.
"Mon ami," said Lidia Ivanovna, carefully holding the folds of her silk gown so as not to rustle, and in her excitement calling Karenin not Alexey Alexandrovitch, but "mon ami," "donnez-lui la main. Vous voyez? Sh!" she hissed at the footman as he came in again. "Not at home." The Frenchman was asleep, or pretending to be asleep, with his head on the back of his chair, and his moist hand, as it lay on his knee, made faint movements, as though trying to catch something. Alexey Alexandrovitch got up, tried to move carefully, but stumbled against the table, went up and laid his hand in the Frenchman’s hand. Stepan Arkadyevitch got up too, and opening his eyes wide, trying to wake himself up if he were asleep, he looked first at one and then at the other. It was all real. Stepan Arkadyevitch felt that his head was getting worse and worse. "Que la personne qui est arrivee la derniere, celle qui demande, qu’elle sorte! Qu’elle sorte!" articulated the Frenchman, without opening his eyes. "Vous m’excuserez, mais vous voyez.... Revenez vers dix heures, encore mieux demain." "Qu’elle sorte!" repeated the Frenchman impatiently. "C’est moi, n’est-ce pas?" And receiving an answer in the affirmative, Stepan Arkadyevitch, forgetting the favor he had meant to ask of Lidia Ivanovna, and forgetting his sister’s affairs, caring for nothing, but filled with the sole desire to get away as soon as possible, went out on tiptoe and ran out into the street as though from a plague-stricken house. For a long while he chatted and joked with his cab-driver, trying to recover his spirits.
Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina: Illustrated (The Evergreen Classics) (p. 733). Kindle Edition.