Saturday, January 30, 2010

Volume 1, Book 1, Chapter V

Wow, reading some of the notes on the things he did makes one think that Napoleon--not such a nice guy.

So, all the guests are leaving Anna's soiree, including Pierre, who is described as "..clumsy. Fat, unusually tall, broad, with enormous red hands..". Most of the focus is on Prince Ippolit (who I didn't realize was Vassily's son and Helene's brother, and not the brother of Princess Bolkonsky) and Princess Bolkonsky's flirting. Her husband seems especially tired and annoyed with her, and she and Ippolit have a converstaion with lowered voices in which he compliments her and puts on her shawl, hovering for a moment on her shoulders. Her husband Andrei's eyes are closed, in seeming annoyance.

Ippolit and the Viscount share a few words in French, as evidently Ippolit has told him about his crush on her. The Viscount calls Andrei an"officer who gives himself airs of a reigning prince."

Meanwhile, we're back at Andrei's place, and Pierre has come by and made himself comfortable. Andrei is encouraging him to find a career, and his father has been waiting supporting him in Petersburg for 3 months already while he tries to figure it out. Pierre mentions something about the Abbe being a mason (I mention since the notes suggest Masonry is important to Pierre later in the book). Pierre says he doesn't want to go to war, since it's just a war of two countries against Napoleon, whom he calls "The greatest man in the world", and not a war for freedom. Andrei thinks all wars being for freedom is a naive idea and says he's going to war anyway, since the life he leads is not for him. Which means he's leaving his pregnant wife to go fight.

It's interesting that Tolstoy lets us know who to root for right up front. The characters are complex, but it feels clear that we should be rooting for Andrei and Pierre, unsure about Vassily but basically like him, be enchanted by Helene, think Ippolit and the Viscount are not good and Princess Bolkonsky is annoying. I'll see if that holds up.

I can see how this was serialized.

And I wish his name wasn't Ippolit. Hippolyt, the French version, isn't much better, and it all reminds me of Hippolyta from Midsummer Night's Dream, which is odd. Maybe I'll start calling him Ipp.

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