Tolstoy’s style, which he used in the battle scenes – of starting some distance away and gradually drawing his reader into the scene, is used to great effect here again (assuming that you were noticing matters of style as we went along).  We’re first of all in the carriage out on the street, so all is dark, cold and miserable.  Then it’s the red carpet, the stairwell, saying hello to the hosts – then next thing you know, we’re in the ballroom and we’re getting a running commentary from Madame Peronsky (the girls’ host) on who’s who.

And it is a bit of a Who’s Who, isn’t it?  We’ve got Anatole “Ratbag” Kuragin, Helene, Pierre, Andrei, Speranski (I assume that’s who he was talking to) and Boris.

In fact, because there are so many of them, I thought it might be time to relist the MindMap.  I haven’t done too many updates to it (except to remove some minor characters who haven’t really featured much since the beginning of the book, so it’s probably safe to axe them).  A lot of the descriptions are how the characters are first described when they appear, but that’s probably a good thing.

See you tomorrow as the action all happens.

4 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 6.15 – Arrival

  1. It really is interesting to see the comparisons in the way Tolstoy describe a ball and the way he describes a war. I adn’t seen the links until you pointed them out, Matt – but you’re absolutely right: the panorama, and the little details, all combining together so that, ultimately, we feel we understand the big picture every bit as much as we feel a part of it. That’s pretty clever writing. And I love all the little devices that Tolstoy uses for doing that – letting us see the kaleidoscope of the guests through the mirrors in the hallways, or through the commentary of Madame Peronsky.

    It’s another scene which I thought wasdone brilliantly in the Bondarchuk film, and I know that every time I watch it I get the same shivers (the cold shivers you are relentlessly prusuing, perhaps, Matt??) as the Rostovs are making their way up the staircase – so full of colour, anticipation and expectation.

    But perhaps even more importantly than all of that – congratulations on the impending arrival of another member to your family. Children being born is one of those things which, I think, never ever stops being special.

  2. Yes, it was Speransky he was talking to – Andrei was quite smitten with the fellow in this part of the story.

    Antonova – Marya Antonova –

    “How lovely! She is quite equal to Marya Antonovna.

    Meaning Helene – being equalled to this Marya Antonova. I don’t know who this is actually – somebody on the stage? A fictional character of that time?

    Dutch Ambassador –

    “That is the Dutch ambassador, do you see? That gray-haired man,” she said, indicating an old man with a profusion of silver-gray curly hair, who was surrounded by ladies laughing at something he said.


  3. Well, Carly, according to the footnotes in the Pevear/Volokhonsky version, Marya Antonovna refers to Princess Marya Antonovna Naryshkin, who apparently was the Tsar’s mistress. Which, I guess, kind of makes the reference to Helene even more pointed.

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