Reading for Wednesday, 21 January
And here we find ourselves back in the increasingly more crazy world of Moscow. It’s odd how Tolstoy’s rather humorous descriptions of Moscovites ignoring the impending invasion actually makes the threat feel that more real. It’s like disaster movies when you’re waiting for the disaster. You know it’s coming, but it’s just a matter of when.
And so then we find ourselves in this little soirée with Julie Drubetskoya (Boris’ wife, if you can remember those details – and former penpal of Marya Bolkonsky). I’m sure we’re all wishing we had Ian’s Pevear/Volkhonsky translation now, because it is here, as the aristocrats actually have a forfeit payable for anyone who speaks in French, that we really start to realise how useful it would be to know what proportion of the book was written in French and what in Russian. But we get the idea, anyway.
What I liked most about this chapter is that Pierre is growing in stature in the story. As Julie tries to bait him by mentioning Natasha, we see that sense of honour and chivalry that Pierre has, rising to the surface. Pierre is still a bit confused and trying to find himself – but I don’t feel that he is naive any more. He’s not at the mercy of the world around him.
More of that in the next chapter.