Today’s Chapter:

Garnett/Edmondson: 1.15

Maude: 1.18

There are so many great characters and moments in this chapter that I don’t really have time to go into them all. I’m sure you can enjoy them all for yourself. But what with le terrible dragon, Marya Dmitrievna, and the cynical Shinshin, even if they’re minor characters – they’re all completely familiar and large as life.

I don’t know about you, but the quote that made me laugh out loud (and also cringe with a big of self-recognition) had to be the introduction of Berg:

Berg talked very precisely, serenely, and politely. All he said was always concerning himself. He always maintained a serene silence when any subject was discussed that had no direct bearing on himself. And he could be silent in that way for several hours at a time, neither experiencing nor causing in others the slightest embarrassment. But as soon as the conversation concerned him personally, he began to talk at length and with visible satisfaction.

Absolute Tolstoy gold . . .

Second place would go to the description of the dinner. It only takes a few paragraphs but it rises off the page . . . the musicians playing during dinner, the domestics rushing around, the men getting drunk and loud up one end, the women nattering at the other. In the middle, the kids, struggling to contain their crushes on one another. And, of course, poor old Pierre, awkward as usual, but welcome this time – not like Anna Scherer’s. This is a much different household.

Oh, yeah, and I’ve updated the MindMap.

Tomorrow’s Chapter:

Garnett/Edmondson: 1.16

Maude: 1.19

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4 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 1.15 – The Meal Begins

  1. This pace is going to kill me! Such short chapters. It’s everything I don’t like about modern Bible-reading: 3-4 verses a day when it was written to be read in slabs and pondered. Since I only started last week, I’ve been able (and required) to read more than the miniscule 1 chapter per day. But what am I going to do now that I’m caught up? I think I’ll be like an unleashed dog that runs ahead of its master and then comes back before running ahead and repeating the cycle until the walk ends. Any objections? Provided, of course, that I don’t give away what’s coming.

    Here’s a question: why does Tolstoy draw such attention to Lise’s “downy upper lip” – at least three times so far.

  2. It’s called an exercise in self-discipline, Bruce! The whole point of reading it slowly is to give you a chance to revel in the details, rather than rushing in to try to grasp a big picture.

    On a practical note, reading really fast can sometimes confuse people, because they get lost in all the characters.

    But, on a more philosophical note, Tolstoy’s whole premise of history (forgive me if this is a spoiler . . .) is that it is made up of the drive of lots of little decisions and interactions made by individuals. So, on the whole, the little details of individuals are much more important than the big picture as a whole, and so if you go slowly and pay attention to the small details of the book, you will be much more on Tolstoy’s wavelength.

    But, of course, there’s no way I’m going to be able to stop you peeking ahead . . . and I have read it before, so I do have the luxury of knowing what happens next. But still . . . aren’t you supposed to be really busy?

  3. Sorry, should also have said – regarding Lise’s upper lip – my theory on why it’s mentioned so often is because Tolstoy, rather than going into great detail about what each character looks like, tends to only comment on the things that are most distinctive about them.

    It’s not always a physical thing, either. For instance, with Berg, it’s his complete egocentricity that’s commented on – his looks are not so important to the whole thing.

    I think this is a fairly human way of describing things. I know myself, it’s one or two little things that will define how I would describe someone (e.g. their mouth, a mannerism they have), rather than an overall picture – and it’s those one or two things that you would notice while talking to them. That’s my thinking – I could well be hit over the head by Tolstoy scholars, but they don’t seem to have found my blog yet, so I’m safe for the moment.

  4. Marya Dmitrievna Akhrosimova . . . the dragon (spoken of at the Rostov’s)

    Shinshin – cousin of the countess

    Lieutenant Berg –

    Alphonse Karlovich –

    Peter Nikolaevich –

    The German tutor –

    Whew! There were a lot of people in that one!

    So now, everybody’s sitting down to dinner at the Rostov’s . . .

    My count has come to 70

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