Hi all!  I apologise for the extreme delay in this.  I always hate getting behind on these kind of things, but I have a good excuse (I hope!).

First off, my wife Rachel organised for me a surprise 30th birthday party! So I ended up having all my Australian-based brothers and sister all in Sydney, plus heaps of other people.  So it was a madcap (but very enjoyable) weekend.

Secondly, work is in a furiously fast mode because we’re launching Sydney’s first chamber music festival next week, which will be incredibly enjoyable if you’re there – but behind the scenes, there’s smoke coming out of our ears.  So if anyone wants to attend a concert or two, do let me know – I can probably even get you a special “mates rates” on tickets . . .

Anyway, as far as War and Peace goes, I’ll try to catch up by commenting on two chapters a day until we catch up.  I have got written in my diary which chapters belong on which day, but so you know, this is:

Reading for Friday 26/09 – Chapter 5.7

Does that make sense?

Anyway, this was a very short chapter, just highlighting the fact that Prince Vasili (or do we blame the fact that their mother has passed away) has done very little to shape the character of his children.  [Side note – is Vasili’s wife dead?  I thought I’d read that somewhere, but I can’t remember for sure.]

Ippolit returns again, trying his best to butt in with a stunningly bad joke about the King of Prussia.  Well, actually, it isn’t a bad joke – but watching him try to butt in with the punchline about three or four times so he can tell the joke kind of ruins it . . .

And then the chapter finishes with Helene seducing Boris.  We were never sure what happened in the case of Dolokhov.  But now, in this chapter, we know that Helene destroyed the marriage with Pierre.  What makes it more interesting, of course, is that there are now so many characters in War and Peace that things are much more personal, because we know everyone.

If Helene started chasing another man, that would be one thing.  But the fact that it’s Boris, who we know, makes it more personal.  We know all parties involved in the affair.  Ahh, the joy of long novels.  Poor old Pierre.

Now, on to chapter 5.8.

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4 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 5.7 – The Kuragin Siblings

  1. I’m still with you on this, Matt, but I’ve gone back to the beginning chapters – I’ve started over at Book 1!

    And I’m obsessively doing a character count!

    Can you imagine?

    Actually, I’ve done seven books . . . I’m waiting to get the audio tracks for 8 and onwards . . . that will be a while.

    But it’s just as well . . .

    I’m finding that reading – both text and audio – these chapters over, and keeping this ‘count’ going, is really putting me into the story – it’s really helping me to keep matters straight on just ‘who’ is ‘who’.

    I’ve left some comments on the blogs in Book 1 . . . haven’t entered all my comments, for each day yet, but I will be doing so.

  2. Very glad to have you back Matt. I was about to start ringing around the hospitals. So I am much relieved that your absence was all (or mostly) attributable to fun.

    Because I seem, these days, to have the short-term memory of a brain injured goldfish, I kept up with my own comments on each chapter during your absence because I just knew I would forget what I wanted to say if I waited, so I’ll do a little copying and pasting ….

    For a very short and in some ways fairly insignificant chapter, this really is, I think, another clever example of how well Tolstoy captures the mood and character of individuals – and of the groups and ultimately of the societies they form. Once again – and it has happened so often before, both in the soirees and on the battlefields – Tolstoy lets us eavesdrop into the little inconsequential conversations that people are having and, in doing so, shows us so much about them. In this chapter, they’re all characters with whom we’re already pretty familiar, but I just love the way Tolstoy shows us so much of their essence in such a few lines: Ippolit trying to get his joke out, no matter how inappropriately; Anna Pavlovna trying to express her noble sentiments for the war; Boris trying to smile in a way that can mean whatever it needs to mean to keep him in the good books of whoever happens to be noticing him. All these little things tell us so much about these people, and about the world they live in. For a very long book, it is amazingly economical writing.

    Not sure what’s going on with Helene and Boris, though.

    So, now off to find where I put my comments on 5.8 ….!

  3. I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been said . . . and certainly nothing nice about Helene – that character has disappointed me throughout the story.

    Here are the people I will add to my ‘count’ . . .

    Frederick the Great –

    “Le Roi de Prusse?” Hippolyte said interrogatively, again laughing, and then calmly and seriously sat back in his chair. Anna Pavlovna waited for him to go on, but as he seemed quite decided to say no more she began to tell of how at Potsdam the impious Bonaparte had stolen the sword of Frederick the Great.

    ……………………………….

    Le Roi de Prusse –

    “Le Roi de Prusse?” Hippolyte said interrogatively, again laughing, and then calmly and seriously sat back in his chair. Anna Pavlovna waited for him to go on, but as he seemed quite decided to say no more she began to tell of how at Potsdam the impious Bonaparte had stolen the sword of Frederick the Great.

    (Now, what would that mean – Le Roi de Prusse – the king of Prussia? I expect so)

    470

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