Today’s Chapter:

Garnett/Edmonds: 1.24

Maude: 1.27

The Bolkonsky awkwardness continues with this dinner party scene. (You may feel that all Tolstoy writes is a long string of parties and dinners strung together – and that’s possibly not a bad description of Book 1 of War and Peace.)

Marya – petrified of her father, but unable to say a bad word against him. Andrei, taking great delight in getting into arguments about politics and war with his old man, even though he can never win.

But, to me, most tragic of all, is what’s unspoken in this scene. Maybe I’m reading it through modern eyes, with a few decades worth of pop psychology having infiltrated my brain – but it seems to me that you’re dealing with a father who loves his children, but simply does not know how to show it.

He talks as if he doesn’t care that Andrei is going to war. He wants to read Marya’s letters for fear she might be “writing rubbish” – but the fact that she is locked away from all other companionship doesn’t seem to worry him. But, at the same time, Tolstoy gives us enough glimpse of his unspoken love to make the man understandable.

In fact, while this situation is rather extreme, I’m sure many of us can relate to this picture of family awkwardness.

Tomorrow’s Chapter:

Garnett/Edmonds: 1.25

Maude: 1.28

And . . . big cheer to everyone . . . you will have finished Book 1. There you go!

3 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 1.24 – An Awkward Dinner

  1. And I enjoyed reading through these posts with you, Matt, and the others. I’ll look forward to going over Book 2.

    I, of course, am already into Book 4 at B & N . . . but I like going back to all these chapters – there’s always something I ‘missed’ or just didn’t remember.

    This blog and its responses has helped me with the book tremendously.

    Thanks for being here!


  2. I’m still trying to figure out who Michael Ivanovich is . . . The architect? The old prince seems to use him as his all-around-general-stand-up-man.

    And I wonder what the humour was about the picture of that chap on the wall – why was the old prince so amused with it? Somebody in the family – the ancestry? Who was it?

    (I’m not adding him to my character count right now)

    The prince asked her about her father, and she began to smile and talk.

    I don’t have a name for her father, so I won’t count him. Unless he’s counted elsewhere.

    When you get there you’ll find out what those Hofs-kriegs-wurst-Raths are! Who is that?

    Look at what arrogant sons-of-guns these rich people are – “Who told you that? Who?” cried the prince. “Suvorov!” And he jerked away his plate, which Tikhon briskly caught.

    I’ve known people like that . . . had an employer who use to pull that trick of having you stop what you’re doing, so he could hand you a piece of scrap paper to put in the garbage under your desk.

    It’s their way of saying ‘you’re the peasant, I’m the owner of the firm’.

    99 plus . . .

    Butler . . . The head butler, napkin on arm, was scanning the setting of the table, making signs to the footmen, and anxiously glancing from the clock to the door by which the prince was to enter.

    Frederick – Consider, Prince Andrew. Two… Frederick and Suvorov; Moreau!…

    Moreau – “The past always seems good,” said he, “but did not Suvorov himself fall into a trap Moreau set him, and from which he did not know how to escape?”

    Orlov – Were the Potemkins, Suvorovs, and Orlovs Germans?

    Phalen – The German, Pahlen, has been sent to New York in America, to fetch the Frenchman, Moreau,” he said, alluding to the invitation made that year to Moreau to enter the Russian service….

    Potemkin – no longer any Potemkins or Suvorovs left to oppose him; but he was also convinced that there were no political difficulties in Europe and no real war, but only a sort of puppet show at which the men of the day were playing, pretending to do something real.

    Rurik – a ruling prince, in a crown- an alleged descendant of Rurik and ancestor of the Bolkonskis

    Now, I’ve finished going through Book 1 (again).

    I have a final count of 106 characters that have been introduced to the story – as I said before, not all of them are major players – some are just ‘mentions’.

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