And, finally, the location of the novel shifts . . . whew! . . . for a while there it felt as if we were going to be stuck at the soireé for a couple of weeks.
It’s in this chapter, that we get our first inkling at what might be underlying Andrei’s bitterness towards the high society circles. Ippolit flagrantly chats up of Andrei’s wife, Lise – something which she doesn’t seem to overly object to.
Is there something going on between these two? It’s not exactly clear – after all, Lise is popular with everyone, and Ippolit is an idiot. But Andrei’s world-weary acceptance of it indicates that this is the sort of thing that goes on all the time. (And, at least in Tolstoy’s depiction of the aristocracy, adultery was often going on under the surface and tacitly acknowledged in the parlour-room gossip . . . which we shall hear more about in due course.)
But, hopefully, it gives us a clue as to why Andrei despises everyone at Anna Scherer’s, but yet has time for Pierre. Not because Pierre is an equal companion for him in terms of intellect and maturity – he’s not. But he’s honest, and Andrei appreciates that.
At least, that’s my thinking – what’s your reading of the whole Lise/Ippolit event?
We also find out more about Pierre’s back story, and why he is in St Petersburg . . .
Also, have updated the MindMap to include the Lise/Ippolit subplot.