Sunday, January 31, 2010

Volume 1, Book 1, Chapter VI

Okay, it's starting to get going.

Andrei and Pierre are speaking, and the Princess walks in. She starts berating Andrei for wanting to leave, and then starts speaking tearfully about how awful he is, at which point Andrei signals somehow that she's gone too far. And then she gets scared, pretends everything is okay, and leaves. Andrei tells Pierre that he should never get married, as it will ruin everything and be a disappointment. Andrei feels his prospects are gone and he's stuck in this awful society he hates, like a lapdog. Pierre is shocked, as he has been looking up to Andrei this whole time, since he needs a role model. And he calls himself a bastard, which he is. Andrei just tells him to cool down and not to go to Kuragin's (Prince Vassily's son, Anatole, who is a reprobate and carouser, and who Anna is plotting to marry of to Andrei's sister {sounds like that's not going to happen}). He chides Pierre for spending so much time on wine and women, especially those kind of women. Pierre gives him his word.

Poor Pierre, just comparing himself to Andrei, found himself wanting, and then being told by Andrei that his life is horrible. From the thing with Andrei and the Princess, I have a feeling he may be a little mean. If not a lot.

Pierre leaves, it's late, and he decides to go to Kulagin's anyway. But at once, as happens with so-called characterless people, he desired so passionately to experience again that dissolute life to so familiar to him, that he decided to go.

If I had a nickel. Really. I must have no character.

So Pierre is confused, since he gave his word of honor to Anatole, too, that he would be there, and then just rationalizes going with that old chestnut "you might die the next day or something extraordinary might happen to you that there would no longer be either honor or dishonor." Turns out Pierre reasons like that a lot. Probably will be important later.

Once there, there are some guys baiting a bear in one of the rooms, and Anatole immediately sees Pierre and makes him drink to be as drunk as everyone else. In that room we meet Dolokhov. I figure if Tolstoy spends a a paragraph describing him, then he's important. He's Anatole's drinking buddy, and lives with him. Not very tall, blue eyes, about 25. Tolstoy spends a lot of time describing his mouth. Actually, earlier there was a lot about the Princess' trembling moustache, and her lips - maybe T has a thing for mouths? I guess you can tell a lot? He and Anatole are " the world of Petersburg scapegraces and carousers". Fun word - scapegrace. T calls his gaze "firm, insolent, intelligent" and that it was impossible not to notice his face. Interesting we don't get a description of Anatole except that he's wearing a shirt exposing his chest.

Anyhow, Dolokhov always wins a bet, is dangerous, and at the moment he's betting an Englishman that he can sit in a sloped window with no hands on the third story (with only cement underneath), and drink an entire bottle of rum. Someone with some kind of sense tries to stop him, but he doesn't. And you kind of now, since there was a whole paragraph and the mouth description, that he must live. Still tense, though. And then you think, how many idiots have died in useless deaths like that trying to prove something while they're drunk. I bet it's a good number. Anyway - Dolokhov manages to win, and then Pierre wants to do it as well. Everyone thinks that's a bad idea, since he can't hold his liquor and is easily dizzy, so Anatole suggests they go to ***, and Pierre is excited and dances with the bear.

That must have been a small bear. I'm assuming ***, means a place where there is women and wine, as in "*** are legal in Nevada, but no where else." Or "I just love that musical Best Little *** in Texas." That's my guess.

And that must be a small bear. Or Pierre is really large.

So this is Petersburg, big city, I guess. You get a sense that it's kind of not that large. And that there is really not a lot to do.


Princess B - sad, pregnant
Andrei B - stifled
Vassily, Anna - political
Helene - ethereal
Ippolit - in love with Princess, but doofus-y (I'm thinking Daniel Day Lewis as Cecil Vyse in Room with a View)
Pierre - young, fat, confused, drunk, dancing with bear
Dolokhov - drunk, not to be messed with
Anatole - drunk

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