Tolstoy sets this party at the Bezukhovs up like a bit of a battle scene, slowly increasing the atmosphere, step by step.  From the moment Count Rostov steps in and feels uncomfortable, and youknow you’re full of a room full of known libertines, we know we’re in trouble.  We kind of hope that the fact that he is there with Natasha might protect his daughter – but before we know it, she is whisked away for a private meeting with Anatole and it’s all over . . .

It has all the mounting suspense of a horror novel, but it’s not a horrific monster or serial killer waiting at the end of the chapter.

Anyway, as a side note, I should mention that the Mademoiselle George, who was reciting incestuous poetry (or at least she was in my translation) was mentioned way back in 1.3 as being an actress that was occasionally a mistress of Napoleon’s.  If you look up the story about the Duc D’Enghien in that chapter, you will see her mentioned.

See you all tomorrow.


4 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 8.13 – The Fateful Party

  1. Well, I guess this is the train wreck finally upon us and I guess it is somehow fitting that it should happen here at this pretty sleazy party. I think what I found particularly telling here was Natasha’s attempts to rationalise it all, to make sense of it all, at the end. She has somehow managed to transform Anatole into this noble, beautiful human being with whom she could not but fall in love. Clearly, she is not seeing this as some casual fling, which she can later dismiss as “meaning nothing”, and Tolstoy’s descrption of that fatal mix of excitement and dread I’m sure strikes a familiar chord in many of us who have experienced those first, confused and daunting awakenings of sexuality and love that come upon us in our adolescent years.

    As for Mlle George’s poem, my Pevear/Volokhonsky footnotes say that the poem is “obviously” from Phedre by Jean Racine, as this was a part for which Marguerite-Josephine Weymer, the actress on whom Mlle George is apparently based, was most famous.

  2. Don’t send anything to my canoemail addy, Matt . . . I cannot access it right now, so I’m giving up on it.

    I’ll use my regular one at Rogers now.

    Anyway, just wanted you to know I’m still here – busy.

    I’m elected at Reading Group Guides to lead them in War and Peace!

    (Boy, am I a sucker for punishment, eh?)

    I started up Book I thread there today.

  3. And I just gotta’ share this!


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