Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Volume II, Part V, Chapter VIII

We're off the opera with the Rostovs.  Natasha didn't want to go, but it was a kind gesture from Marya (I love those little details), so she gets dressed up, and sees in the mirror that she is pretty, very pretty, she felt still more sad; but this was a sweet and amorous sadness."

We are in deep romanticism here, folks. Natasha is just daydreaming of Andrei and how she would hold him and love him, embrace him and speak words of love.  She's preoccupied.  She and Sonya, both pretty, get to the opera and sit down in their box. For a long time she had not experienced that feeling, both pleasant and unpleasant, of hundreds of eyes looking at her bare arms and neck, which suddenly seized her now, calling up a whole swarm of memories, desires, and emotions corresponding to that feeling.

Natasha sees Boris and Julie with the Karagins, Julie,.. with pearls on her fat, red neck (which Natasha knew was daubed with powder).  Not so attractive, and she knows Boris is talking about her and Andrei. And behind [Julie and Boris] in a green toque, with a happy festive face, given over to the will do God, sat Anna Mikhailovna.  Given over to the will of God - such a great phrase for her pompousness and machinations  - that in her eyes it's the will of God since it's in her favor.  Love it.

Dolokhov is even there, in Persian dress, with a bunch of his followers.  Small town, must be.  Back from Persia where he became a minister for killing a shah's brother.  Nice guy.  Natasha notices a beautiful lady in the next box over - Helene, Pierre's wife.  Her father says something to her about the opera, and she studies Natasha, who is bowled over by her beauty.

And then the opera starts.

I love how Tolstoy always puts the right people in the right places. It's always tantalizing, as you're just unsure what's going to happen between them.  It's amazing, with the relationship that Natasha has with Pierre, that she's never met Helene.

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