'He stepped down, avoiding any long look at her as one avoids long looks at the sun, but seeing her as one sees the sun, without looking.'

Various excerpts from Anna Karenina

Kitty looked into his face which was so near her own, and long after—for years after—that look so full of love which she then gave him, and which met with no response from him, cut her to the heart with tormenting shame.

and in front of all, the exquisite Diana, carrying Kusovlev, who was more dead than alive.

he thought, like a man who having vainly tried to extinguish a fire should be vexed at his vain exertions and say to it: ‘Well, go on and burn, it is your own fault.’

Oblonsky had gone to Petersburg to fulfil a very necessary duty—which to officials seems most natural and familiar, though to laymen it is incomprehensible—that of reminding the Ministry of his existence, without the performance of which rite continuance in Government service is impossible.

Vronsky listened attentively, but it was not so much the meaning of Serpukhovskoy’s words that interested him as his outlook on these questions, for Serpukhovskoy was already dreaming of a struggle with the powers-that-be and already had sympathies and antipathies in that sphere, whereas Vronsky’s interest in the service was limited to his own squadron. Vronsky realized, too, how powerful Serpukhovskoy might become by his undoubted capacity for reflection and comprehension, and by his intellect and gift of speech, so seldom met with in the Society in which he lived. And, ashamed as he was of the fact, he felt jealous.

‘All the same I lack the most necessary thing,’ he replied. ‘I lack the wish for power. I had it once, but it is gone.’

This was one of the unpleasant things, while the other was the fact that his new superior, like all new superiors, had the reputation of being a dreadful man who got up at six in the morning, worked like a horse, and expected his subordinates to do the same.

Levin was saying what of late he had really been thinking. He saw death and the approach of death in everything; but the work he had begun interested him all the more. After all, he had to live his life somehow, till death came. Everything for him was wrapped in darkness; but just because of the darkness, feeling his work to be the only thread to guide him through that darkness, he seized upon it and clung to it with all his might.

Koznyshev, who knew better than anyone how at the end of a most abstract and serious dispute unexpectedly to administer a grain of Attic salt and thereby to change his interlocutor’s frame of mind, did so now. Karenin was arguing that the Russification of Poland could only be accomplished by high principles which the Russian Administration must introduce. Pestsov insisted that one nation can assimilate another only when the former is more densely populated. Koznyshev agreed with both, but with limitations.

When they had left the drawing-room Koznyshev, to finish the conversation, remarked with a smile: ‘Consequently for the Russification of the alien nationalities, there is but one means: to breed as many children as possible.... So my brother and I are acting worst of all, and you married gentlemen, and especially Stephen Arkadyevich, are acting most patriotically. How many have you got?’ he asked, turning to the host with a kindly smile and holding out a tiny wineglass to be filled. Everybody laughed, and Oblonsky most merrily of all.

‘Yes, that is the very best way,’ he said, chewing some cheese and filling the glass with a special kind of vodka. And the conversation was really ended by the joke.

Koznyshev, while continuing his conversation with the hostess, listened with one ear to his brother, turning his eyes toward him, and thought, ‘What has happened to him to-day? He behaves like a conqueror. ’ He did not know that Levin felt as if he had grown a pair of wings.

Levin felt that it would not be proper to enter into a philosophic discussion with a priest, and therefore merely replied to the direct questions, ‘I don’t know.’

Updated last as of October 12th, 2018. 

These were among my favorite sections from the first half of the book. I've tried to keep out any spoilers. I need to go back through and review my quotes from the second half of the book and append them to this list. If you haven't read this book, please give it a chance! It contains some of the most pure descriptions of the complexity of life and human interaction that I've ever come across and during reading I'd often find myself staring at my phone (Kindle app), smiling like a crazy person.