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War and Peace > Book 1B--Moscow

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message 1: by Laurel (last edited Aug 22, 2013 10:37AM) (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Introduced at the party at the Rostov's name-day party (Moscow)
Chapters VII-XI
Countess Nataly Rostov, Count Ilya Rostov's wife
Count Ilya Andreitch Rostov, a wealthy nobleman of the upper aristocracy with large estates in city and country
Julie Karagin, an heiress
Countess Nataly (Natasha) Rostov, the Rostovs' younger daughter, the major female character
Prince Boris Drubetskoy, Anna Mihalovna's son
Count Nikolay Rostov, the Rostovs' elder son, one ofthe central characters
Sonya, a poor niece of the Rostovs
Count Peter (Petya) Rostov, the Rostovs' younger son
Countess Vera Rostov, the Rostovs' elder daughter

Introduced in the house where Count Bezuhov lies dying (Moscow)
Chapter XII
Princess Catiche (Catherine Semënovna), Pierre's cousin

Introduced at the Rostovs' dinner party (Moscow)
Chapters XIV-XVII
Dmitri Vasilevich, Count Ilya Rostov's estate manager
Peter Nikolaevich Shinshin, Countess Rostov's cousin
Alphonse Karlovich Berg, an officer of the Guards, engaged to Vera Rostov
Marya Dmitrievna Akhrosimova, "le terrible dragon"

Introduced in Chapter XVIII
Count Kirill Bezuhov, Pierre's father

>Can anyone give us an idea of how Petersburg and Moscow differed from each other in 1805?


message 2: by tysephine (new)

tysephine Laurele wrote: >Can anyone give us an idea of how Petersburg and Moscow differed from each other in 1805?

I took a course in Russian history back when I was still an undergrad, and when I pulled out my old textbooks I found nothing on the subject. I did, however, find an online article that said a bit about it.

"The problem of mutual relations between Moscow and St. Petersburg began with the founding of St. Petersburg. From the time that Moscow became the center of the Great Moscow principality and the capital of a united Russian government in the middle of the 15th century, no one encroached on her capital functions. However, at this time Peter I had yet to emerge in Russian history with his hostile feelings toward Moscow...

Peter I laid the foundation of the SS Peter & Paul Fortress on the delta of the Neva River in St. Petersburg on May 27, 1703, and already by 1712 St. Petersburg became the official capital of the Russian Empire. And even back then, in the 18th century, people began to talk about St. Petersburg as the genuine 'European city' in Russia because of the fact that during its construction the talents and experience of Western planning and construction were widely used. The creations of architects Domenico Trezzini, Francesco Rastrelli and Giacomo Quarenghi, who came to Russia from Western Europe, helped determine the historical appearance of the city.

However, the fate of the new Russian capital differed from Europe in that none of the great European cities was built so quickly. Celebrated European capitals grew more gradually, which was the norm at that time, while St. Petersburg appeared strictly by plan during a single generation.

Indeed, it was precisely in the 18th century, during the reigns of Elizabeth and Catherine II that St. Petersburg surpassed Moscow in its capital splendor. According to historian T. Burmistrov, 'St. Petersburg was the first true city in Russia. Moscow seemed like a large village in comparison, but a lovely, comfortable and hospitable one compared to cold, foggy and unfriendly St. Petersburg.'

Moscow became the preserve of pre-Peter I epoch values of a serene Russian life, which wasn't introduced to the progress and cultural changes of the rapidly developing new capital. The proverb 'Moscow wasn't built in a hurry' reproached St. Petersburg and spoke about the fact that Russian cities developed along a more natural path.

The differences between the images of Moscow and St. Petersburg began to seriously interest the Russian artistic elite. Russian poet Alexander Pushkin touched on this theme in Travels from Moscow to St. Petersburg, Russian author Alexander Hertzen also dealt with this question in Moscow and St. Petersburg.' Russian satirist Nikolai Gogol wrote in St. Petersburg Notes of 1836 that 'Moscow is still a Russian beard, while St. Petersburg is already a neat German.'

Slavophiles and Westernizers used Moscow and St. Petersburg as their ideological outposts. Russian critic Vissarion Belinsky was one of the first to consider the problem of the importance of understanding the existence of the two Russian cities: 'St. Petersburg and Moscow are two capitals or, better said, two parts which can with time merge themselves into one magnificent and harmonious whole.'

St. Petersburg surpassed Moscow in terms of population in the first half of the 19th century. Moscow had approximately 175 thousand residents at the end of the 18th century and St. Petersburg approximately 90 thousand. However, by 1862 more than 500 thousand people lived in St. Petersburg and only about 378 thousand lived in Moscow."

The article continues on to the present day for anyone interested.

Source: http://www.russialist.org/7177-2.php


message 3: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Good find, Tysephine! I think Petersburg was more progressive and secular than conservative, church-centered Moscow. Moscow owned the hearts of the people, though.


message 4: by Lily (last edited Aug 22, 2013 08:27PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Neat post with lots of information! Thanks, Tysephine.

Now one gets to go find pictures of buildings by the architects named -- at least, recently did something similar for Barcelona. Fun way to virtually visit a city.

Found this virtual tour, a series of photos, of St. Petersburg: http://www.saint-petersburg.com/virtu...

If you note the dates on the construction of the buildings, some sense of the beauty of Petersburg at the time of our novel can be derived, even though many buildings are reconstructed and renovated by now. (Any squalor is not on this tour. Also, surely many more buildings populate some photos than existed in 1805.)


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Somethings I don't really understand.

Why does Count Bezukhov choose Pierre to be his heir?

Why does Prince Vasili believe he deserves it more, and why/how does he think he can stop it. (I was confused by the tussle over the inlaid folder.)

Since this is what the Count decided, how could Pierre be so clueless that he didn't suspect it might happen?


message 6: by Lily (last edited Aug 23, 2013 04:37AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Zeke wrote: "...why/how does he think he can stop it. (I was confused by the tussle over the inlaid folder.)..."

I presume the inlaid folder contained the letter to the emperor that would establish Pierre's legitimacy in the eyes of Russian law -- undoubtedly necessary to be eligible for certain rights of transfer of property.

It is not quite clear that Pierre cared whether he inherited or not. Did he comprehend the significance? Pierre may have been clueless (he was away at school and had only recently returned), but equally mysterious to me is Princess Anna Drubetskoy's savvy.

I don't remember whether we ever learn who Pierre's mother was. (Hopefully no one will consider that a spoiler -- I am in the same place of questioning here as first time readers.)


message 7: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Zeke said: "Why does Count Bezukhov choose Pierre to be his heir?

Why does Prince Vasili believe he deserves it more, and why/how does he think he can stop it. (I was confused by the tussle over the inlaid folder.)"

All of the count's children were illegitimate, and Pierre just happened to be the one he took a liking to. Maybe his mother, whoever she was, was his favorite.

Prince Vassily's wife was the closest legal relative of Count Bezuhov.

I think the folder contained the latest will, and perhaps the in ailed letter to the emperor. Vassily and the girls wanted to get a death-bed turn-around from the sick old man.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Ah ha! Thanks Laurele. The key piece of information is that Vasily's wife is a legal relative. I tried to figure out how, but couldn't. But I take Laurele's word for it. And it makes the whole thing make sense to me.


message 9: by Wendel (new)

Wendel (wendelman) | 609 comments To me this episode seems very cloak-and-dagger! Sometimes Tolstoy is just inches away from the threepenny level ..


message 10: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments tysephine wrote: "Laurele wrote: >Can anyone give us an idea of how Petersburg and Moscow differed from each other in 1805?

I took a course in Russian history back when I was still an undergrad, and when I pulled o..."


Very interesting and useful. Thanks!


message 11: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Here's a link to one version of the Daniel Cooper dance. I can see how the man would be exhausted at the end! I love the flirtatious nature of the dance, and the very distinct difference between the male and female movements, which in my years of experience in folk dance I don't recall seeing in any other folk dance tradition. Men do very vigorous dancing as men's dancing (English morris and sword dancing, for example) but where men and women dance together, my experience is that they dance with approximately the same level of exertion -- a bit more for the males sometimes, particularly in swinging, but usually not. (I'm reminded of the famous quip about and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers -- we are reminded that Ginger did everything Fred did, but she did it in high heels and moving backward.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyoOCR...


message 12: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Everyman wrote: "Here's a link to one version of the Daniel Cooper dance. I can see how the man would be exhausted at the end! I love the flirtatious nature of the dance, and the very distinct difference between ..."

Oh, that's good! I can just see old Count Rostov doing those final movements.


message 13: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments If Princess Catiche is accurate in her accusations, Anna M.D. is willing to go quite far in her machinations. I find myself wondering about Anna's relationship to Pierre's mother, but I'm not sure Tolstoy ever tells us.

“Ah, don’t talk to me! Last winter she wheedled herself in here and told the count such vile, disgraceful things about us, especially about Sophie — I can’t repeat them — that it made the count quite ill and he would not see us for a whole fortnight. I know it was then he wrote this vile, infamous paper, but I thought the thing was invalid.”

TOLSTOY, LEO (2011-03-20). Delphi Complete Works of Leo Tolstoy (Illustrated) (Kindle Locations 16437-16439). Delphi Classics. Kindle Edition.


message 14: by Lily (last edited Aug 29, 2013 12:42PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Have we talked about the detail of the straw on streets in front of the Count's palace to deaden the sound of the traffic outside for the dying man? I cherish these details in Tolstoy's writing -- but I have never been able to quite figure out all the men who scatter outside the entrance as Anna and Pierre arrive at the back portico. These don't seem to the undertakers waiting for "business." The scene is like something out of a movie of intrigue -- I expect them to reappear later in the story, but they don't.


message 15: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Lily wrote: "Have we talked about the detail of the straw on streets in front of the Count's palace to deaden the sound of the traffic outside for the dying man? I cherish these details in Tolstoy's writing --..."

I think they're just waiting to hear the news.


message 16: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Laurele wrote: "I think they're just waiting to hear the news...."

Like reporters?


message 17: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Lily wrote: "Laurele wrote: "I think they're just waiting to hear the news...."

Like reporters?"


Or like people. The richest man in Russia is on his deathbed. What next?


message 18: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments (I started late and am far behind.)

Just finished listening to chapter 21. After 20 chapters of people selecting their words on the basis of proper manners or what might best serve their interests--and thereby keeping what they really thought or felt, i.e., " the truth," to themselves---

well, i absolutely LOVED the fact that count's confession--the truth he must speak on his deathbed---was a silent confession.

It struck me as such a perfect detail.


message 19: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments I think, perhaps, different details come to the fore when one listens instead of reading.

Chapter 22 stirred great sympathy in me for Pierre: The fact that Pierre had never seen, had had no prior knowledge of the princesses' apartments; the noted difference in how Pierre was now looked at, now spoken to, now deferred to. His glove being picked up for him.

This scene made me suddenly more aware of how Pierre had been treated up to this point. This is the home of his flesh and blood--his family. I was going to say his nominal family---but the name/the real words themselves aren't allowed.

That little detail that Pierre didn't think it was " right"/ proper/allowed for him to call the count "father." And this is Pierre---who has said and done much that is not "right"/ or allowed. Someone(s) must have repeatedly made it clear to Pierre he wasn't properly situated to have a father. How very sad for Pierre. Sent away at ten....who has been Pierre's "family"? If our identities are formed through social situations, who has Pierre looked to to have reflected back to him who he is?

I can't remember if we ever find out who Pierre's mother was. I find myself wondering.


message 20: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments In this scene, Pierre, I suspect, is just this side of still being the same Pierre--- that it is the others who are behaving differently.

But then...I think are probably right... That Pierre will be different. He was going to pick up the glove himself. Why not? That's what Pierre would have expected of himself and what the others would have expected of him. But then he accepts having the glove picked up for him and decides that his behavior must follow the dictates of the others. For just this one confusing day? Or will Pierre change more permanently?


message 21: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments (I remember in the 80s, I had been promoted and had to buy a new wardrobe. The day I went to the clothing store in old jeans the salesgirls merely pointed me to where the clothes I wanted were. The next day, when I was wearing a $100 dress, the salesgirls were offering to bring me different sizes and unasked were bring me accessories that I might want to look at.)


message 22: by Lily (last edited Sep 02, 2013 01:46PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Patrice wrote: "I got the feeling, and it's just a feeling, that his mother must be of the lower class. A non-entity. The Count must have had his pick...."

Patrice -- why do you rule out the possibility that a relative (sister, niece, ...) of Anna Mihalovna Drubetskoy is the mother of Pierre? I see little evidence to sway opinion one way or the other, but maybe slightly more for a well placed woman who perhaps died in child birth.


message 23: by Lily (last edited Sep 02, 2013 02:37PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Patrice wrote: "Dying in childbirth makes sense. I hadn't thought of that. I guess I thought that if she was one of the aristocracy she would have been known to him. To everyone. A serf could have been sent aw..."

Patrice -- for a sense of the shenanigans of Catherine's Court, see the link I just posted in Resources to Bunin's work.


message 24: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments I've been thinking Pierre's mother was from the class of workers. The count might have been a large man himself--i don't recall hearing that information. Yet Pierre is so frequently described as large--the implication being that he was larger than most of the men he met in the salons of the aristocracy. Thinking that Pierre had strong, stout genes. And, as he had plenty to eat-- didn't starve-- his genetic material was able to grow Pierre to his full-size.

It is possible that his mother might have died. But were she an upper-class woman wouldn't here have been considerable scandal? Wouldn't we have heard mention of such a scandal?

Whereas were his mother some poor nobody, a few rubles might have changed hands, and the count would have physical possession of his son.

If Pierre were the only son-- or the only surviving son-- I can understand the count wanting physical possession.

Mmm. The way that Pierre doesn't seem to understand the meaning of some words ( he had difficulty understand the word "stroke" as a medical affliction rather that as a physical hit... The way that he doesn't seem to understand the subtle nuances of "proper" parlor repartee... Leads me to wonder whether Pierre wasn't raised by a simple, straightforward woman when he was a child... And that perhaps the count only brought him into the household circle-- or took an interest in his education and sent him to Paris when he was ten-- when the count realized that this would be the only son he would ever have.

MAYBE he had all those children because he was egotistical enough to think he needed/ deserved a son... And he wasn't going to stop fooling around until he got one.

(Someone I know wanted one child. A son. Went through the "boy" diet. Had the sperm swirled to increase the chances of having a boy. Had three daughters. Three children-- even if none were boys-- was enough. A neighbor family when I was growing up kept trying for a boy. They had seven daughters. Seven-- even if none were a boy -- was enough.

But a count. With a name to pass on and a fortune with which to support a parcel of children... Think to what lengths he might go to have a son.)


message 25: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Adelle wrote: "It is possible that his mother might have died. But were she an upper-class woman wouldn't here have been considerable scandal? Wouldn't we have heard mention of such a scandal?..."

My sense is not necessarily a scandal, or at least containable, in the court of Catherine. My own speculation would be that this mother, as well as Pierre, might have had some special significance for the Count. I do note Anna M's particular care for Pierre's interests. But, unless the scholars have evidence from Tolstoy's notes or there is a passage to come, we may never know. The passage from Bunin that I added to the Resources suggests that royal pressures could be exercised where there was a will. We are not told that the other children of the Count were all daughters -- although they may have been. His relationship with Catherine herself is somewhat cloaked in mystery.

(Having recently been reading Wolf Hall and listening to background history tapes, I am reminded of the court of Henry VIII in England, albeit that was a few hundred years earlier.)


message 26: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Lily wrote: "If Princess Catiche is accurate in her accusations, Anna M.D. is willing to go quite far in her machinations. I find myself wondering about Anna's relationship to Pierre's mother, but I'm not sure..."

I didn't get her, either. Why do people let her take such a level of control? And what gives her the right to almost take over the dying process? And why is she so focused on Pierre getting the estate anyhow -- how is she going to benefit?

Perhaps these things would have been clear to a Russian reader, but they aren't to me.


message 27: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Adelle wrote: "I can't remember if we ever find out who Pierre's mother was. I find myself wondering. "

In some commentary I can't now recall I read that Pierre's mother had died, which was why he was sent to Paris, but I can't find that in the text. My guess would be that his mother was a servant in the house, but that's just a guess.


message 28: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Everyman wrote: "..Why do people let her take such a level of control? And what gives her the right to almost take over the dying process? And why is she so focused on Pierre getting the estate anyhow -- how is she going to benefit? ."

1st question. I could be off base here, but my sense was that, you know, Prince V and the eldest princess were in deep discussion. Prince V wanted, in effect, to steal that paper, that letter to the Tsar asking that Pierre be legitimatized. And then Anna and Pierre walk in. Pierre HAD been summoned. Anna M seemingly has some social standing. She's poor--- but attends the right parties....knows the right people. A close friend-- if I heard right--of the count's wife. (I should listen to that passage again, but that's what I thought I heard. Listening is a different experience for me.)

Everyone there apparently knew or suspected that Pierre was to inherit. So Prince V and princess, I think, don't want to make a scene. Their only chance is to steal the paper. AND If they don't find a way to steal the paper, then it is in their interest to establish a friendly relationship with Pierre. And after all, exercising self- interest is what they and half of Moscow high society do.

2nd question. Oh, Anna M is going to benefit quite nicely, I think. I heard her say to Pierre that the Count had been awake earlier and that with his dying breath-- almost-- had told her that he wanted to support Boris, Anna M's son. Remember she as been looking for financial support for Boris's military career. Prince V didn't help her as much as she had wanted. She has a better chance of getting the help she needs through Pierre if he gets the money--- and he always will remember that he wouldn't have got his inheritance without her.

I loved the little details she spread of the count's touching "last moments"--
In her story, P didn't fall asleep; he wept, heartbroken. And In her story Prince V behaved vilely----;) but no details....the hearers can imagine the worst for themselves and spread those rumors.

Ah, Anna M. In these last chapters, listening to Anna M, I thought of that old line: "if her lips are moving she's lying."


message 29: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments at 35 Everyman wrote: "In some commentary I can't now recall I read that Pierre's mother had died, which was why he was sent to Paris, but I can't find that in the text. My guess would be that his mother was a servant in the house, but that's just a guess.
..."


A servant. Another indication that Pierre's mother wasn't high-born was towards the end of Book 1. There is a ball. Pierre watches. But Pierre didn't know how to dance. I truly think that were his mother upper class that she would have made sure that Pierre was taught the social graces.


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

At 36, Adelle resurfaces something I questioned earlier. I agree with her analysis. However, the question I am still left with is how, if everyone else seems to assume Pierre will inherit, he could be so clueless?


message 31: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments That's a good question, Zeke.

Patrice, I think is right to some degree....It just never occurs to Pierre... He says what he's thinking and, I suppose, rather expects others to do the same.

But also... Maybe... Do we have any idea how old Pierre is?

Maybe Pierre doesn't know because he was sent away to Paris when he was ten. "To be educated." I have to wonder what sort of school it was. Might he have been sent to a Catholic school? The closest thing to what would have been a Russian religious school? After all, there were all those many, many icons in the Count's bedroom. Did the Count have them put there? Or did his wife put them there? The Count did't seem to object to them.

If Pierre was educated in a religious school, away from secular influences, he might have developed as a straight-forward unworldly young man-- though I grant you, he seems to have found worldly pleasures almost as soon as he arrived back in Russia. Maybe he partakes to excess because he's led a straight laced life until then???

More importantly, I think, is that with Pierre having been in Paris lo these many years, and his mother probably dead, he wouldn't have heard anything about the scandal involving Prince V and Sonia?? Some name that begins with "S." Sorry, I don't have a hard copy. But there was a scene in which it was mentioned some scandal or other that upset the count so much that he rewrote his will and had that letter to the Tzar drawn up-- never sent....but it's been written.

It could be??? That Pierre was a boy in Paris at the time...and so never learned of his father's anger at the others? Never learned that the Count had rewritten his will? AND since he's come back to Russia, and what with his family, etc speaking to him, treating him as though he's illegitimate...why, Pierre has no reason to suspect that he's in line to inherit. Pierre hasn't been back in Russia very long. And he hasn't heard the rumors??

But the others...even the servants...may well have heard rumors. Indeed, the servants might well have heard the Count's outburst for themselves...what with the servants always being about doing needful things.

Maybe.... This might be an explanation as to why Pierre doesn't know or even suspect that he will inherit---and why the others do know.

Worth a shot.


message 32: by Lily (last edited Sep 03, 2013 02:59PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments That Princess Anna M protects Pierre, that Count Bezuhov allegedly had so many illegitimate children, that he was apparently so favored in the court of Empress Catherine suggest to me that there was something special about Pierre's mother, especially since Pierre himself had not been around in recent years to grow fond of through interactions. Also, the tale of Tolstoy's maternal grandfather related in a reference link suggests Lev's awareness of court life shell games.

The clergy delivering last rites to Count Bezuhov undoubtedly would have been Russian Orthodox.

I did note this passage about Count Vassily's intentions in this reading of W&P -- last time I had thought the intent had been an out-and-out stealing and destruction of the unsent letter, but Tolstoy did introduce at least a few lines of ambiguity:

“I know your heart,” repeated the prince. “I value your friendship and wish you to have as good an opinion of me. Don’t upset yourself, and let us talk sensibly while there is still time, be it a day or be it but an hour.... Tell me all you know about the will, and above all where it is. You must know. We will take it at once and show it to the count. He has, no doubt, forgotten it and will wish to destroy it. You understand that my sole desire is conscientiously to carry out his wishes; that is my only reason for being here. I came simply to help him and you.” Bold added.

TOLSTOY, LEO (2011-03-20). Delphi Complete Works of Leo Tolstoy (Illustrated) (Kindle Locations 16425-16429). Delphi Classics. Kindle Edition.

It is later, after they have struggled over the portfolio, Princess Anna M who claims the Count should no longer be disturbed. I'm not at all sure to whom to apply the term "lying," although certainly Princess Catiche would apply it to Princess Anna M. I did miss any clear evidence that she actually got a chance to place her request to the Count to support Boris as his godson. Obviously she was not straight in her retelling of the evening back at the Rostovs. But whatever her case was relative to the women living with Count Bezuhov, it was apparently compelling enough to convince him at the time.

Tolstoy doesn't particularly make any of the court society oriented women seem explicitly trust-worthy, although he doesn't paint them with a single brush. But do we believe Prince Vassily when he says "You understand that my sole desire is conscientiously to carry out his wishes; that is my only reason for being here"?


message 33: by Wendel (new)

Wendel (wendelman) | 609 comments Pierre is the Russian 'Holy Fool' on his quest for Truth. I never met such a person in the wild, but that must be because I never visited Russia. I presume this golden character comes close to a self portrait of the author - who was not known as a particularly modest man.


message 34: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 22 comments Wendel wrote: "Pierre is the Russian 'Holy Fool' on his quest for Truth. I never met such a person in the wild, but that must be because I never visited Russia. I presume this golden character comes close to a se..."

Prince Myshkin in Dostoyevsky's The Idiot is one of those too. Is this a Russian Orthodox religious thing, separately from appearances in literature?


message 35: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 22 comments Patrice wrote: "en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fools_for_Christ_"

The definition in the Wikipedia article doesn't very fully account for Pierre or Prince Myshkin either. They don't do the things fool-saints referred to in the article do. And yet, I do believe there's something here that helps us understand who Pierre is and what his function in the world of the novel is .


message 36: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments Wendel wrote: "Pierre is the Russian 'Holy Fool' on his quest for Truth. I never met such a person in the wild, but that must be because I never visited Russia. I presume this golden character comes close to a se..."

I understand the Fool part, but what about Pierre is "Holy"?


message 37: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments I'm haven't yet begun Book 2. I'm not sure yet how to view Pierre.

He doesn't engage in "polite lies" of the parlour...but I don't think he avoids them due to any inner integrity on his part.

And then...he promises not to hang out with that wild crowd... and rationalizes the promise away when he realizes that he wants to drink and carouse.

I don't see him as manipulative; but I don't see him---at least at this point---as searching for the Truth... I don't see him searching at all.

I haven't seen him stand up to anyone. I haven't seen him take a stand on any difficult issue.

He doesn't even seem to stand up for himself....he goes along.

But, of course, this is only Book 1.

I do wonder whether the financial inheritance will change him. I wonder, too, if the simple fact that the count legitimatized him---gave him a sense that he belongs to a family---will change him.


message 38: by Lily (last edited Sep 04, 2013 01:24PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Thomas wrote: "I understand the Fool part, but what about Pierre is "Holy"? ..."

LOL! Crossing himself with hand holding the lit candle -- corrected by Princess Anna M?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTGd1h... -- @ ~37+ min.


message 39: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments Adelle wrote: "I haven't seen him stand up to anyone. I haven't seen him take a stand on any difficult issue.

He doesn't even seem to stand up for himself....he goes along.
..."


This is my sense as well. I presume that there is some character development to come, but so far I'm not seeing it.


message 40: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Lily wrote: "Thomas wrote: "I understand the Fool part, but what about Pierre is "Holy"? ..."

LOL! Crossing himself with hand holding the lit candle?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTGd1h... -- @ ~37+ min."


Thanks, Lily. Enjoyed the dinner scene, esp.
But oh, my! Not at all the Pierre that I imagine in my head. :)


message 41: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Adelle wrote: "But oh, my! Not at all the Pierre that I imagine in my head. :) ..."

Me neither. But I rather like this one though.


message 42: by Cass (new)

Cass | 533 comments Patrice wrote: "What does it mean to be "illegitamate"?

I was just reading Deuteronomy the other night where it discusses illegitimacy.

From the King James Bible
"A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD."
http://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/23-2.htm


message 43: by Cass (new)

Cass | 533 comments Adelle wrote: "This scene made me suddenly more aware of how Pierre had been treated up to this point. This is the home of his flesh and blood--his family...And this is Pierre---who has said and done much that is not "right"/ or allowed. Someone(s) must have repeatedly made it clear to Pierre he wasn't properly situated to have a father."

Such a great comment. He was 'received as if he were a corpse or a leper' when he entered the drawing room that his sisters were in, this is despite him having his own apartments.

Are the daughters illegitimate too?


message 44: by Cass (new)

Cass | 533 comments Any mothers here? I found chapter VII completely relatable from the point of motherhood.

Prince Andrew is frustrated that he can no longer achieve all the things he believes that he is capable of. He is frustrated that he lacks any kind of skills, he is frustrated that his time is taken up with the mundane task of existing amongst society.

He blames this on marriage, and is shocked at how disappointing it is to be married to a woman.

I would like to think that modern day men and women are in stark contrast to this, we are far more equal. However reading this as a mother I can relate.

As an educated and intelligent woman, I occasionally find it frustrating that I am unable to do anything other than be a mother anymore (my choice to be a sahm), I tried to learn the piano or study something or run a business and my kids make it frustratingly impossible. I have to resign myself to the mundane and feel disappointed at my lack of skills - yes I am well read and educated but none of my skills are developed because child rearing became my focus.

I could definetly relate to Prince Andrew (although I love my kids and don't regret them, so not as hateful as him).


message 45: by Cass (new)

Cass | 533 comments I am not the only one who thinks there is a romance between Natasha Rostov and Pierre in the works? (Note I haven't read the book - if you actually know the answer please do not give hints, I am excited to be surprised).


message 46: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Cass wrote: "Are the daughters illegitimate too?..."

Is it clear that those are "daughters" living with and caring for the Count? I've never been of that opinion; more likely sisters or cousins has been my impression.


message 47: by Cass (new)

Cass | 533 comments On relation to the question about who is outside the gates.

I believe they are simply undertakers (read the opening paragraph of chapter XXI) it me tip s the undertakers waiting in expectation of an important order for an expensive funeral. They hid whenever a carriage drove up.


message 48: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments @ 59, 60. I was mistaken. They weren't daughters of the old count. Apparently they are cousins of Pierre's. (Some online summary said that.)


message 49: by Cass (new)

Cass | 533 comments I am going through the book making some notes of the geanology. I know it will exist somewhere online but I am afraid of spoilers. I know Natasha and Pierre are destined to be together and I would be so disappointed to read it on a geanalogical chart before I discover it in the book!!

As for the ladies at count cyril vladimirovich bezukhov's house. They are nieces. Well at least one of them is. ( chapter XV)


message 50: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Cass wrote: "Adelle wrote: "This scene made me suddenly more aware of how Pierre had been treated up to this point. This is the home of his flesh and blood--his family...And this is Pierre---who has said and do..."

I think they are referred to as Pierre's cousins, Cass.


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