Friday, February 12, 2010

Volume I, Book I, Chapter XVIII


We're told that just as the sixth anglaise was being danced at the Rostov's, Count Bezukhov (rich, dying, Pierre's father) has his sixth stroke. He's given a blank confession, which I had never heard of - apparently if the person is dying and not able to speak, the Priest just says a list of common sins and then absolves the person for them. Huh. I'll keep my opinions to myself.

So Vassily is there, and he goes in to speak to the Princess, I think the oldest of the three we met earlier, about the will. She is called Catiche, but her name is Katerina Semyonovna. She is not interested in what the Prince is telling her, namely that Pierre stands to inherit everything if the Count has left him the estate in his will, and if he's written a letter to the sovereign that Pierre be considered a son. The Count is pressing her, but she doesn't take the bait, and keeps saying a bastard can't inherit.

FINALLY, he convinces her, and she just goes on a tear about how no one is grateful, and no one appreciates all her sacrifice, and that "those who are mean and vile succeed". She keeps saying "I know whose intrigue this is", and that person is Anna Mikhailovna, who apparently told the Count all kinds of awful things about the three sisters, and during that period is when he wrote the will and the letter. This does succeed in giving Vassily the place where the count keeps his papers, in a portfolio under his pillow. The chapter ends with her shouting to get even with Anna M.

T describes Catiche as having hair that looks varnished to her head, with a dry and straight waist. She seems pious and worried in her reticence at the beginning, but then obviously is filled with self-righteousness. Vassily, too, when getting frustrated that she is not talking to him about what he wants to hear, his "cheeks began to twitch nervously now on one side, now on the other, giving his face an unpleasant expression which never appeared on Prince Vassily's face when he was in a drawing room." He also looks around in fear. It's just this side of melodrama, since it's obvious he really cares about the money, even though he's couching it in care for her. He's getting more and more impatient as she doesn't engage or give up the information. My favorite line of his is "You understand that myonly deire is to fulfill his wishes religiously; that is the only reason I've come here. I am here only to help him and you."


I have not even peeked to see what's happening yet, but it will surely be fascinating. I have an inkling from the cast of characters in the front listing, but I'll hold on and see how it goes. She's dry, self-righteous and angry; he's all but twisting his moustache. But no one yet is all good or bad. I love that.

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