Tolstoy..I've read War and Peace three times in my life..the first time a ragged copy carried in my back pack as I wandered around a rather cold spring Tasmania 1974..the last time in the mid 90s..must be time to start again..
....and Pierre? My fiend Stewart Wallace once said it was the literary role for which I had been born to identify with...no argument from me..
...One of the next arrivals was a stout, heavily built young man with
close-cropped hair, spectacles, the light-colored breeches fashionable
at that time, a very high ruffle, and a brown dress coat. This stout
young man was an illegitimate son of Count Bezukhov, a well-known
grandee of Catherine's time who now lay dying in Moscow. The young man
had not yet entered either the military or civil service, as he had only
just returned from abroad where he had been educated, and this was his
first appearance in society. Anna Pavlovna greeted him with the nod she
accorded to the lowest hierarchy in her drawing room. But in spite of
this lowest-grade greeting, a look of anxiety and fear, as at the sight
of something too large and unsuited to the place, came over her face
when she saw Pierre enter. Though he was certainly rather bigger than
the other men in the room, her anxiety could only have reference to
the clever though shy, but observant and natural, expression which
distinguished him from everyone else in that drawing room.
"It is very good of you, Monsieur Pierre, to come and visit a poor
invalid," said Anna Pavlovna, exchanging an alarmed glance with her aunt
as she conducted him to her.
Pierre murmured something unintelligible, and continued to look round as
if in search of something. On his way to the aunt he bowed to the little
princess with a pleased smile, as to an intimate acquaintance.
Anna Pavlovna's alarm was justified, for Pierre turned away from the
aunt without waiting to hear her speech about Her Majesty's health. Anna
Pavlovna in dismay detained him with the words: "Do you know the Abbe
Morio? He is a most interesting man."
"Yes, I have heard of his scheme for perpetual peace, and it is very
interesting but hardly feasible."
"You think so?" rejoined Anna Pavlovna in order to say something and
get away to attend to her duties as hostess. But Pierre now committed
a reverse act of impoliteness. First he had left a lady before she had
finished speaking to him, and now he continued to speak to another who
wished to get away. With his head bent, and his big feet spread apart,
he began explaining his reasons for thinking the abbe's plan chimerical.
"We will talk of it later," said Anna Pavlovna with a smile.
And having got rid of this young man who did not know how to behave, she
resumed her duties as hostess and continued to listen and watch, ready
to help at any point where the conversation might happen to flag. As
the foreman of a spinning mill, when he has set the hands to work, goes
round and notices here a spindle that has stopped or there one that
creaks or makes more noise than it should, and hastens to check the
machine or set it in proper motion, so Anna Pavlovna moved about her
drawing room, approaching now a silent, now a too-noisy group, and by a
word or slight rearrangement kept the conversational machine in steady,
proper, and regular motion. But amid these cares her anxiety about
Pierre was evident. She kept an anxious watch on him when he approached
the group round Mortemart to listen to what was being said there, and
again when he passed to another group whose center was the abbe.
Pierre had been educated abroad, and this reception at Anna Pavlovna's
was the first he had attended in Russia. He knew that all the
intellectual lights of Petersburg were gathered there and, like a child
in a toyshop, did not know which way to look, afraid of missing any
clever conversation that was to be heard. Seeing the self-confident and
refined expression on the faces of those present he was always expecting
to hear something very profound. At last he came up to Morio. Here the
conversation seemed interesting and he stood waiting for an opportunity
to express his own views, as young people are fond of doing.