Today’s chapter would be relatively straightforward, if not for the rather confusing habit of characters being referred to by multiple names . . . which makes it all rather confusing.
First of all – you might remember a couple of days ago we read about Boris Drubetskoy’s mum. In full, her name is Anna Mihalovna Drubetskoy, but she’s more often referred to as Anna Mihalovna. However, Boris (who will appear soon) is usually referred to as Boris Drubetskoy. The logic behind the names is that the middle name tells everyone who your father was. So Anna Mihalovna would be, roughly, in English, something like “Anna, daughter of Mihal, Drubetstkoy”. Does that all make sense? For the most part, you just need to keep in mind that Anna Mihalovna and Princess Drubetskoy are one and the same . . .
The scene then changes to the city of Moscow, and we at the estate of the Rostov family. (Yes, I know, you were just thinking there weren’t really enough characters to keep this story moving, weren’t you?) The Rostovs are a fairly complex family tree, but we’ll keep it simple for starters. (Speaking of family trees – while I was taking great delight in keeping the MindMap looking as much like a dog’s breakfast as possible – I’ve now grouped the Rostovs, Bolkonskys and Kuragins by family tree, which might make things a bit easier on the eye. Let me know what you think.
Anyway, we meet Count Rostov and his wife. And they have some sons and daughters. (We’ll get into how many as we go along.) They’re all about to have a big party (in case you think all these parties are a bit dreary, it must be remembered that this is what the Russian aristocracy does for fun – what else do you do when you’re not really working?)
The party, in this case, is a name day. This simply meant that when it was the holy day of the Russian Orthodox saint who you were named after, you got to celebrate a special day (like a birthday). If you think of it as being like a second birthday, you’ve got the idea.
In this case, it’s Saint Natalya, and Countess Rostov and her youngest daughter are celebrating their name day on the same day. However, to be extra confusing, the youngest daughter (who will appear tomorrow), almost always is referred to as Natasha. Simple, really.
Anyway, if you kept track of the chapter, we see that Anna Bolkonsky’s entreaty to Prince Vassily worked (or part of it) and she got her son, Boris, an upgrade in the army. In the meantime, the Countess Karagin (who I can’t remember if she becomes important later) and her daughter show up, and during the ensuing conversation, we find out that Pierre and his mates actually got themselves into a fair bit of trouble with the Petersburg police following on from the bender where we left them.
Information aside, the thing to look out for in this chapter, and the ones that follow, is the contrast between the Rostov name-day and the Scherer soireé. Whereas Anna Scherer’s gathering was quite cold and pretentious, by contrast, the Rostov family is warm and friendly. Look at how Count Rostov welcomes everyone, and encourages them to stay for dinner. He even finds the tale of Pierre amusing.
Yes, the Rostovs are quite a different crowd of aristocrats altogether . . .
How are we all going out there? Have we worked out which version we’ve got, and what chapters we’re supposed to be up to?