So I have officially begun War and Peace. Since it is so long (365 chapters–1 for each day of the year) I’m going to read it in addition to my other classics and post my progress on Saturdays. (Luckily, I’ve discovered that the chapters are short.) I’ve decided to start now because of Jillian at her blog, “A Room of One’s Own,” where she is hosting the War and Peace challenge. I’m behind a bit for the official readalong, but I’m just going to tune in to the relevant posts as I get there.
I’m not quite sure on the format I’m going to use for this since I’ll be covering 7 chapters at a time. For this week, though, I’ve made a character list and added the things I’ve learned about them. Starred characters actually appeared in the story, and the others were only discussed.
Oh, and disclaimer–though my brother and his wife were Russian majors, I know nothing of the Russian revolution or this particular time period and will probably show my ignorance in many ways. At some point maybe I’ll do some research to fix this, but not today…
*Anna Pavlovna Sherer: maid to the Empress. She’s throwing a party, prefers her guests to talk only of trivial things, and has never been married–she’s 40 and has a cold
Empress Marya Fedorovna–Russian Empress–Empress is better than princess, and I’m pretty sure she’s the highest woman of all Russia
*Prince Vasili Kuragin–“languid”; has some troublesome sons and an attractive daughter
Novosiltsev–has sent out a dispatch of some sort and got no answer
Emperor Alexander–Emperor of all Russia
Napoleon Buoneparte–French conqueror–also an Emperor, I believe–there are mixed feelings about him among the Russian elite
Wintzingerode–sent out to capture the King of Prussia’s consent and failed
*le Vicomte de Mortemart–a French guy (the Russian elite are really into France) and he’s not as important as Anna makes him out to be
*Abbe Morro–a thinker; Anna likes him a lot
Baron Funke–the proposed secretary to the Empress; Vasili wants his son to get it
Anatole–Prince Vasili’s youngest son; Anna doesn’t like him too much and Vasili wants to marry him off–an arrangement seems to be in the works with Princess Mary Bolkonskaya
*Hippolyte–Prince Vasili’s oldest son; he’s ugly and seems to really like Princess Lise Bolkonskaya
Princess Mary Bolkonskaya–eligible bachelorette of a rich man
Prince Bolkonskaya–Ps. Mary’s rich dad
*Helene–Prince Vasili’s daughter
*Princess Lise Bolkonskaya–sister-in-law to Ps. Mary, pregnant and confusingly introduced until they gave her first name; called “the most fascinating woman in St. Petersburg” but will be doomed to live alone in the boring countryside when her husband, P. Andrew, goes off to war–she has potential to be a main character
*Anna’s old aunt–an old bag Anna makes everyone talk to when they come to the party, whom no one wants to talk to
Count Bezukhov–a dying man who had an illegitimate son, Pierre (I think), who’s just come into Russian society for the first time
*Pierre–has just arrived in Russia and this is his first societal gathering so does not know how to “behave”; he keeps bringing up “unpleasant” highly political subjects; he likes Napoleon and has come to Russia/was sent by his father to find what job he wants to do, but he doesn’t want to do anything. Because he doesn’t know how to behave he seems more interesting than the rest; he is described as kind and expressive and genuine, also chubby and short–I’m thinking he’ll be more of a main character
Duc d’ Enghien–his murder was gossip fodder–was killed by Napoleon when caught with Napoleon’s lover
Mademoiselle George–an “actress,” Napoleon and the duc’s lover–seems a bit of a whore
*Prince Andrew Bolkonski–an unhappy man, seems bored by everyone at the party except Pierre, and is especially bored by his wife, Ps. Lise. He is about to go off to war, but takes time to have dinner with Pierre after the party. His wife calls him selfish, which gets her in trouble–probably another main character
*Princess Drubetskaya–an old bag at the party who wants P. Vasili to use his influence to make her son a guard instead of going off to war; he agrees to because he owes her a favor
Boris–Ps. Drubetskaya’s son
Phew. That was a lot. But the book has actually been pretty interesting and not too hard to read except for my ignorance of the culture/history and having to constantly consult my list of names.
That’s it for now. We’ll just have to see what happens with these characters, and I’m sure a myriad more, next week!