Reading for Sunday, 2/11/08

Well, apologies again.  No sooner was I back up to date than I fell off the wagon again.  Work has suddenly got a bit busier this week and spare time has been harder to come by.

Actually, I was tempted to return in this post and say that actually, to make sure you really want to be reading War and Peace with me, we’re going to take a year’s break, and come back next November.  And then, when that happens, if you’re still interested, we can start reading again . . . but that joke might have been funnier in my head than in print.

Whatever . . . here we see Prince Andrei’s dad in fine form yet again, suggesting to his son that perhaps waiting for a whole year to get engaged to Natasha would be a good idea.  What surprises me about all of this is that Andrei didn’t argue more.

Is he still scared of his father?  Does he figure that it will just turn out best for all involved if they keep the old man happy?  (Not that that’s completely possible.)  Or (my theory), does the pessimistic side of him secretly wonder whether Natasha will remain faithful to him?  Either way, all of this is brewing when we have the proposal scene.

Actually, another question – in Western culture, assuming a young man was going to ask anybody’s permission to get married – wouldn’t it be the Dad that he asked?  Or is a Russian thing that it’s the wife that signs off on these kinds of things first?

I’m not sure – but either way, the proposal has been made, and the long-term plans have been made.

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 6.23 – A Whole Year

  1. Here’s the part where Andrei shows up to ask for her hand – and announce that his father wants them to wait a year . . .

    This is just tooooooooooooo romantic!

    This is from the 2007 TV series version – it’s odd to see Natasha as a blonde, but it works – for me, anyway.

    And I just adore the guy that plays Andrei (Alessio). When I see somebody that cute, I gotta’ think about he’ll look when he’s my age – it’s a great cure – ha ha!

    I know you fellas’ never think of stuff like that . . . 😉

    About the character count in this one . . . there are none.

    It is still 576.

  2. Well, firstly, welcome back Mat. Great to see you again. You know how we worry when we don’t see you for a few days!!

    Second, yes, I am very glad you didn’t go with your first “let’s have a year of” suggestion. I have enough trouble remembering yesterday’s chapter, let alone what happened a year ago!

    But, onto this chapter itself …

    I reckon it must be really hard to write this sort of chapter – even in the mid nineteenth century, it must have been hard to think of an original way to write about a wedding proposal, especially one like this which we all knew was coming.

    I think there are two things that make this so original – first, the way, within three weeks of not seeing Andrei, Natasha has talked herself out of the very fated destiny that she talked herself into only a few weeks earlier and, second, the way that, within a nano-second of having proposed to her, the whole of Andrei’s feelings for her have changed. It has suddenly transformed from this romantic, poetic, tentative pursuit, into a commitment. Natasha has stopped being this beautiful young girl who he idolised from afar and has instead become the woman who will be depending on him as his wife. I don’t imagine things often change so suddenly for people when they decide to get married – but I do understand that subtle yet profound difference between the “before” and “after” of starting a relationship.

    And I remember thinking, when I first read War and Peace, and first read Andrei’s insistence that they wait a year before getting married, that this was sure to end in tears. But, of course, we’ll all just have to wait and see what happens – but, as they may well say, a year’s a long time in Tolstoy!!

    I really don’t know about the Russian, versus the Western, protocols of asking for permission to marry; or even if t’s a ninteenth century thing, or maybe even just a Tolstoy thing. But it does seem all very gender-driven – he asks his Dad for permission for himself, and Natasha’s Mum for permission for her.

    Oh and yes, Carly, I absolutely take heart in thinking what gorgeous young men might look like when they get to my age. It’s meagre solace, but at least it’s something!!

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