But before all this happens, Levin finally gets to meet Anna. The two pivotal characters in the novel, and they only get one short scene together. Stiva (Anna's brother) goes to visit Anna and he drags his friend Levin along. Anna flirts heavily with Levin, and Levin is quite taken by her. Indeed they seem to have a mutual attraction and understanding. Levin then goes home to Kitty, where she can immediately tell he's been smitten, and she is not happy about this at all. But then all is forgotten because she goes into labor. Levin totally freaks out. He's a kind hearted man, but he cannot handle pressure (not only Kitty's labor, but when his brother was dying). But after a long labor, and a feverish panic attack by Levin, Kitty has her baby, and all's well.
The story shifts away from Levin, back to Anna and Vronsky until after Anna's death scene. And that's when the novel goes completely weird. I mean, WTF?? The last section of the book is this weird coda, which is all about Levin and his "spiritual awakening", if you can call it that. This part sort of lost me, and I couldn't follow all that was going on in Levin's mind. But basically, after returning to his country home following the baby's birth, he starts reading a bunch of the great philosophers, trying to figure out the meaning of his life, and as Tolstoy would have us believe, almost committing suicide because he can't figure it out (a weird parallel to Anna). But then, in a conversation with a peasant (who else, when it comes to Levin) he figures it all out. The peasant talks about someone who "lives for his soul and does not forget God". And suddenly, Levin "gets it". He seems to gain faith in God, and decides his life is now transformed. Well, just a few minutes later he gets angry with his carriage driver, and realizes that he's not all that changed, but still, the demons he was wrestling with seem to be assuaged. In today's parlance he might say he was "born again". Levin the unbeliever now believes. He can't defend his new feelings to his intellectual brother, so he doesn't bother trying. He and Kitty and their son are happy, and all is well, living under God's grace. The End.
Odd. It just seemed like the book suddenly swerved away from its previous self. But whatever, it's a great book. Still, there's one unresolved mystery, mentioned in an earlier post: the book's epigraph is "Vengeance is mine: I shall repay". I thought the book would shed an obvious light on that, but alas it did not. So what does it mean? Beats me. My best guess is that it means God...that it is up to God to punish Anna, and not society, which is all to eager to do so. But that explanation doesn't seem totally satisfying. So yes, I'm stumped. But that will give me something to ponder while I move on to the next book on the list...something completely different: Treasure Island.