Reading for Sunday 16/11/08

Hi guys,

Sorry, still a day behind.  Anyway, I didn’t get a chance to do this yesterday, but I couldn’t resist.  I know Carly caught it for her character count, but you might have noticed that the Countess Rostova asked the music teacher to play a nocturne (which is quite simply a quiet piece of a romantic nature, and – as the name suggests – quite suitable for playing at night time, because of their gentle and quiet nature).  Incidentally, the man who invented the nocturne was an Irish composer named John Field (the one referred to in the novel) and I’m told that he lived in St Petersburg for a long while, so he would have been known to the Russian aristocracy in the early 1800s, so he would have just been rising to prominence at the time.

Anyway, to send your ears back in time temporarily, here’s a nocture by John Field for you to enjoy:

And, meanwhile, back to 7.11 – I’m gathering, from what I’ve read, that this house that they’re at (the home of the Melyukovs) is a bunch of neighbours nearby that are a bit poorer.  It does sound a bit like a midnight charity visit to cheer up the poor family, anyway.

Nevertheless, it’s all a lot of fun, and for some unknown reason, the girls are more becoming attractive by wearing moustaches . . . in this day and age when women are encouraged to lose as much body hair as possible, Tolstoy bucks the trend by making his women more attractive with facial hair . . . there you go.

Anyway, it ends with possibly the romantic high point of this Book 7 (if not one of the romantic highlights of all War and Peace) – so syrupy, it could come straight out of a romance movie – Sonya heads out the back of the house,  Nikolai heads out the front, and they meet up for a secret kiss out the back . . . ahh . . . young love.


3 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 7.11 – John Field and Moustaches

  1. Well, firstly Matt,thanks for the John Field link. Wonderful music and, if I hadn’t known, I would have thought it was Chopin. Where do you find these things? Well, on You-tube, obviously!!

    Anyway, onto the Chapter. Whoever would have thought that a woman painting on a moustache, and a man dressing in drag, would be the thing that would ignite the flame of love? But, as always, Tolstoy makes it believable. I guess it has something to do with the way both of them sort of step outside of their usual roles – Sonya’s usual subservience and shyness, Nikolai’s usual air of superiority and invincibility and, perhaps, even arrogance.

    In that sense, it was a very clever device for Tolstoy to have used – the wild revelry of this party becomes the opportunity for Sonya and Nikolai, dressed up and disguised, to at last feel that they are seeing the real person in one another.

    I’m just not quite sure what happened in the barn…! I guess there were just some details that even Tolstoy preferred to leave to our imagination!!

  2. Yes, it is a lovely piece of music, Matt – thanks for putting that up.


    Ahhhh! Now, we’re close to what I was looking for – Nicholai is realizing his love for Sonya and makes his decision.

    I was impressed with how this family took them all in for dinner, and like I said, how they included their servants in the fun – even though they ate separately, with the Rostov’s servants who came along, still they were encouraged to join the circle and enjoy themselves.

  3. Governess –

    “And who is is this?” she asked her governess, peering into the face of her own daughter dressed up as a Kazan-Tartar.

    Maidservant –

    From the back porch came the sound of feet descending the steps, the bottom step upon which snow had fallen gave a ringing creak and he heard the voice of an old maidservant saying, “Straight, straight, along the path, Miss. Only, don’t look back.”

    Only two this time . . . leaves us at 626!

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