Sunday, March 21, 2010

Volume I, Book III, Chapter IX

Politics and Power.

Boris goes to Olmütz to find Andrei. He misses him the first day, and feels out of place among the plumes and uniforms and pomp surrounding the Emperor. He goes back the following night, finding Andrei out. Most of the adjutants don't even acknowledge him, but one annoyed-ly tells him that Andrei is on duty.

Andrei is speaking to a General, and is only a Captain, but is condescending, and leaves the general to speak to Boris. It's obvious to Boris, and also makes him feel better than the general. I can't help but feel all of this is about them being Princes, this haughteur they have when not on the field - but it's also the pride of the person who is taking on the importance of whom they serve. Andrei is a captain, but he's also a Prince and serving a higher general, so he can be haughty on the position of his job. I think it's gross, frankly, but I'm not an aristocrat. Either way, he spends some time with Boris, and brings him to another general - Dolgorukov - thinking that he'll have more time than Kuzutov, and he's another Prince, and a bit younger.

At this moment, Dolgorukov is more interested in a summit they just had with the Austrians, and telling a story about Buonaparte, and how they had to figure out what to call him, settling on head of the French government, which is hysterically insulting. Then there's a story about someone dropping a handkerchief and then Dolgorukov is called away.

On the way out, though, a character who Andrei dislikes is introduced, Prince Adam Czartoryski, who walks toward Andrei with a cold gaze, like a game of chicken, and at the last moment turns away down a side corridor.

Huh. He must be important. The next day they march, and Boris has no time for this, or to see Andrei. But these are the moments, when some strong character is introduced right before a commercial break, when it seems like a soap opera. It was serialized, so in some sense, I guess it was.

There was a lot about strategy and the war in this chapter, which I'm skipping. Suffice it to say they think they're going to be victorious, and there's going to be another battle. And this, which was great, echoing through the centuries:

"When Germans start being accurate, there's no end to it!"

That just made me laugh for some reason. National character stuff, that goes away hard.

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