Dinner at the Rostov's. We meet
Shinshin, Countess Rostov's cousin, who likes to have a good time joking with the youngsters at their expense, without their knowing. Sparring.
Berg, a proper young soldier, speaking about how much he makes and his possibility for advancement. This is who Natasha teases Vera with saying he's her fiance.
Marya Dmitrievna Akhrosimov, who everyone is waiting for. She's loud, brash, known and feared through court, Moscow and Petersburg for her candid tongue.
She loves Natasha, though calls her a bad girl, and gives her ruby earrings. Pierre has arrived, and is making everyone uncomfortable without knowing it. Marya tells him "shame on you" for coming to a party while his father is dying.
And the rest is all the great stuff - passing sentences about who is sitting with whom, what they're talking about, and how they feel. Count at one end, Countess at the other. Vera with Berg (him talking about love); Nikolai with Julie and not with Sonya, who's jealous; Pierre with Boris and Natasha. Pierre is eating everything, and drinking each wine, which you get the feeling is quite rude. And then Natasha "gazed at Boris as a thirteen-year-old girl gazes at a boy she has just kissed for the first time and is in love with. She occasionally turned this same gaze to Pierr, and, under the gaze of this funny, lively girl, he wanted to laugh to himself, without knowing why."
I feel the stage is set.
And then we're back to Nikolai, the jealous Sonya, and then the over-protective governess, and finally a German tutor who is upset at not being offered wine, because he wants to memorize everything at the dinner, and only wanting knowledge of it all.
I love these huge scenes - spectacular. He's set up the characters so well that he can just pull a line or two out and you know who they are. Sometimes, it will be paragraphs earlier to tell who they are, sometimes just a passing sentence. There's great detail, and it's all in the service of the story. IT's not lazy and chock full of pointless detail, it's rich. Such exciting stuff. I can see, from the this great eye that sees all detail, what incredible scenes must be coming.
6 months ago