In this chapter, we see Boris Drubetskoy attempting some social climbing at Anna Pavlovna Scherer’s place.  For those who’ve completely forgotten who Boris was, if you flick back to the beginning of the book, you will note that it was Boris’ Mum who first went to Anna Pavlovana’s place to beg Prince Vasili to get her son, Boris, a good spot in the army.

And then a bit later, we met Boris at the Rostov’s.  Because he and his mum were poor, they used to live with the Rostovs, and he was Natasha’s boyfriend when we first met her.

Of course, goes to show how times change, doesn’t it?  Now he’s risen in the ranks of the army, just by playing his cards rights, and sucking up to the right people – and here he is, in the very circle that made his mother feel like an outsider.  We’ve effectively come full circle.

Under all this is the rather disturbing way that everybody encourages the rather flagrant flirting between Helene and Boris – clearly casting shadows yet again on her fidelity – but it’s Pierre who is the victim of all the gossip and talk!  The Russian aristocracy can be a pretty merciless place . . .

In the meantime, completely different topic – have you noticed how in the space of about three months here, all kinds of momentous events have passed in War and Peace?  Two battles, a wedding, a funeral, several soirees, and an episode involving drunks and a bear.

But what about your life?  Has anyone had any momentous milestone events since starting to read this book?  For myself, my milestone is waking up this morning and realising that I’ve been in this world for 30 years now . . .

Anyone else got any momentous events?

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4 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 5.6 – Boris the Social Climber and Momentous Events

  1. Well, of course, Matt I have to begin with a “Happy Birthday” or even a “с днём рождения!” as Tolstoy might have said. Waking up and discovering that I was 30 years old happened over 19 years ago for me, which I find rather frightening, really – but, in any event, I hope you’re managing to celebrate the day with the vigour and energy that you still have at that ridiculously young age!!

    I really can’t say I’ve had any milestones to compare with yours since having started to read the book – unless, of course, I count from when I first read War and Peace, in which case there have been plenty: a start of a new relationship, and end of the same relationship, a change of job, the arrival of two gorgeous little doggies into my life, learning to speak Russian and, probably the most momentous of all, cleaning ot the garage.

    So, then – today’s chapter. You are certainly right about things coming full circle here. It’s amazing how so much has changed in Russia and the world since the beginning of the book, and yet, it seems, life has just gone on as usual at Anna Pavalovna’s soirees. Boris has certainly grown up into a pretty dislikeable upstart but, apart from that, nothing seems any different. St Petersburg society really does seem to have managed to insulate itself from the rest of the world. Even the old Aunt, who everyone is expected to talk to, is still there.

    Another small thing that reminds us that we are back where we began comes out here very much in the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation, too – and that is the amount of French that is being spoken. There’s just masses of it here, as there was in the first few Chapters, and one of the unique features of the P/V edition is that all te French is retained in French. It makes the reading a bit cumbersome because you have to keep referring to footnotes for the translation (which is how Tolstoy did it in Russian, too – that is, he translated the French into Russian in footnotes), but it really does give you an idea of the Frenchified world of Petersburg society, which feels just that little bit more anachronistic now, given the thousands upon thousands of Russian lives lost in a war with the French. But even that point is, if I remember correctly, developed by Tolstoy a little further down the track.

  2. Happy Birthday to you Matt – though some time has passed since the actual event.

    Yes, Boris is making his way in this world here. But can you blame him? It’s a society where that’s what’s important and he and his mother do need the money that will come from his promoting himself.

    As if his mother didn’t do enough ‘promoting’ for him. Ha! Ha!

    Here are some new characters to add to my list:

    Dandin – George Dandin –

    ‘So much the worse for you. Tu l’as voulu, George Dandin,’ that’s all we have to say about it!”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Dandin

    Looks like he’s a character from a play . . .

    George Dandin ou le Mari confondu is a 1668 comedy by Molière.

    The play showcases the folly a man commits when he marries a woman of higher rank than his own. Moliere’s Dandin is an impersonation of a husband who has patiently to endure all the extravagant whims and fancies of his dame of a wife.

    ………………………………

    Marat – Jean Paul Marat –

    I said so even at the time when everybody was in raptures about him, when he had just returned from abroad, and when, if you remember, he posed as a sort of Marat at one of my soirees.

    [IMG]http://i107.photobucket.com/albums/m320/WildCityWoman/Marat.jpg[/IMG]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Paul_Marat

    …………………………..

    Shitov – Mr. Shitov – A Man of Great Merit –

    “Mr. Shitov- a man of great merit”- this of the man usually so described.

    468

  3. Happy Birthday to you Matt – though some time has passed since the actual event.

    Yes, Boris is making his way in this world here. But can you blame him? It’s a society where that’s what’s important and he and his mother do need the money that will come from his promoting himself.

    As if his mother didn’t do enough ‘promoting’ for him. Ha! Ha!

    Here are some new characters to add to my list:

    Dandin – George Dandin –

    ‘So much the worse for you. Tu l’as voulu, George Dandin,’ that’s all we have to say about it!”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Dandin

    Looks like he’s a character from a play . . .

    George Dandin ou le Mari confondu is a 1668 comedy by Molière.
    The play showcases the folly a man commits when he marries a woman of higher rank than his own. Moliere’s Dandin is an impersonation of a husband who has patiently to endure all the extravagant whims and fancies of his dame of a wife.

    ………………………………

    Marat – Jean Paul Marat –

    I said so even at the time when everybody was in raptures about him, when he had just returned from abroad, and when, if you remember, he posed as a sort of Marat at one of my soirees.

    [IMG]http://i107.photobucket.com/albums/m320/WildCityWoman/Marat.jpg[/IMG]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Paul_Marat

    …………………………..

    Shitov – Mr. Shitov – A Man of Great Merit –

    “Mr. Shitov- a man of great merit”- this of the man usually so described.

    468

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