Sunday, February 7, 2010

Volume 1, Book I, Chapter XIII

Still no war, though a little talk of it.

Opening is Pierre coming back a few days before to the house, being greeted by his three female cousins - the unpleasant one we met last chapter, one with a mole above her lip, and one without a mole. They tell him about the gossip, and tell him he should only visit the count if he wants to kill him of shame. Pierre goes to his room. Fast forward.

Boris goes up to talk to Pierre, who doesn't remember him from when they were kids. Pierre is fighting an imaginary battle of Napoleon and Pitt, and interrupted by Boris. Boris basically says that he and his mother want nothing from the Count (this might be a surprise to his mother), and this makes Pierre like him and want to know him more. Boris invites Pierre to dinner at the Rostov's, which he will go to to see more of Boris.

Boris leaves with his mother, who seems genuinely upset at how ill the Count is. He asks her what his attitude is toward Pierre, and she says it will all be spelled out in the will. Boris wonders aloud why he would leave them anything, and she says he is so rich and they are so poor. When Boris says that's no reason, she wails how ill he is.


You do wonder what's going to happen with the money, but it's interesting that people are more interested in that than the fighting. Boris even says as much, that Moscow is much more interested in gossip than fighting. This is right before Napoleon is trying to take England. Love the footnotes, filling me in about 1805 politics. Battles are so clean in hindsight. It's amazing that he's writing this years later with characters speaking of strategy as if it hasn't happened. I suppose it's much clearer in the past, but it must have been a bit of a puzzle to put it together. Still, the humans are the point. I'm assuming we're becoming quite invested before we follow them on to the battlefield, which feels inevitable. So much easier to care for people than concepts, even though they may be stand-ins. The little details in this book are so rich. Great dialogue, too.

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