Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Volume II, Book I, Chapter III

At the banquet for Bagration. Nikolai is there, as are Denisov and Dolokhov, and Pierre, who is rich and sad. There are the young men, and then the old, and he is part of both circles somewhat and lost. This is my favorite description, of people entering the hall:

..scattered through different rooms, the guests, like rye shaken in a shovel, came together in one heap and stopped in the big drawing room by the door to the reception hall.

Rye shaken in a shovel - excellence. And I love such an earthly metaphor for such a man-made, courtly event. There is one later as well, during the dinner, that people are seated closer to the guest of honor in order of their importance, as naturally as water flows deeper where terrain is lower.

Bagration is presented, slightly embarrassingly, with a silver salver of peoms about him. Luckily, they're cut short by dinner. Pierre and Nesvitsky are seated across from Denisov and Dolokhov (awkward), and there is much toasting. Nikolai is first to be overcome almost to tears and throws his glass on the floor, followed by many others. The servants clean the glass. More toasts are made and glasses thrown, finally toasting to the count, who burst into tears.

That last bit I love. So in character. And a bunch of drunk Russians throwing glasses on the floor for someone else to clean up. That must have been a nightmare, really. And dangerous. I guess no one was feeling any pain. Oh, well. IT was a nice party.

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