Friday, February 5, 2010

Volume 1, Book 1, Chapter XI

So, for my ones of readers, I did write about Chapter IX, but it looks like I forgot to publish it. So now it's up its rightful place, which is good since it introduces Vera and T's description of her as being beautiful yet annoying to everyone around her.

This chapter begins with the Countess and Anna Mikhailovna mourning over old times. The Countess turns to Vera "obviously not her favorite" and abruptly tells her "Can't you feel that you're not needed here?". Harsh.

Vera leaves, just in time to pass by Nikolai, Sonya, Boris & Natasha, sitting in couples. Nikolai is writing poetry, and Vera comes in and grabs her inkwell from Nikolai, and tells Natasha that whatever is happening between her and Boris is ridiculous. She threatens to tell their Mother.

Natasha calls her a name "Madame de Genlis", which is not footnoted, and they all leave. T says The beautiful Vera, who had such an irritating, unpleasant effect on evryone" seems barely effected by what anyone said to her. Poor cold Vera.

Meanwhile, back in the drawing room, Anna Mikhailovna and the Countess are commiserating. Anna says she has no money, and the Countess says that at least Boris will be an officer, and not a "junker" as Nikolai will be. Privates were called "junkers". That can't have made them feel too worthy, huh? Anna said she's down to one 25 rouble note, but will do anything for her son, and grovel to whomever she needs. She even suggests the Countess speak to Vassily for his possible help with Nikolai getting a better position.

Anna thinks maybe she can get some money from Count Bezukhov (about to kick, Pierre's father, and Boris' god-father) for Boris. In fact, it's such a capital idea she decides that she'll just run off right now, since it's two and dinner's not until 4, and take Boris to see the Count. They sweep off.

One thing that always strikes me about 19th century novels is their obsession with both romance and money. Especially money. I think the romance part has overtaken the 20th century novel, stories and movies, but 19th century novels, from Austen to Dickens to Tolstoy, were quite candid about money. Even when dealing with aristocracy, it's quite clear who has money, what it does, who needs it, and why. The Countess is worried that her husband will spend all of theirs, and already we have Vassily's interest in the Bezukhov inheritance, as well as the notion that it might be Pierre who gets it. That's the gossip.

Either way, the pocketbook holds a lot of clout, and I guess the number one way to make it still is to inherit it. Everyone seems to have a title in this book, but not everyone has the money. Will be interesting to see how this theme is continued.

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