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[7] Anna Karinina, which surely is, among all books upon this same theme, the most utterly relentless. Not merely does it not contain, from beginning to end, a prurient scene or even a voluptuous passage, but its plot moves as inexorably and almost as visibly as a Greek fate. Even Hawthorne allows his guilty lovers, in The Scarlet Letter, a moment of delusive happiness; even Hawthorne recognizes the unquestionable truth that the foremost result of a broken law is sometimes an enchanting sense of freedom. Tolstoi tolerates no such enchantment; and he has written the only novel of illicit love, perhaps, in which the offenders-both being persons otherwise high-minded and noble-fail to derive from their sin one hour of even temporary happiness. From the moment of their yielding we see the shadow already over them; the author is as merciless to these beings of his own construction as if he hated them; and one feels like calling in an Omar Khayyam to defend once more the created against an unjust creator. Yet Anna Karenina has often been condemned as immoral, in the absence of the guide-board.

If, now, we consider, in the light of these striking instances, what it is that has brought about this gradual disuse of the overt and visible

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Hawthorne (2)
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