Wednesday, 11 June 2014

"W& P": Katerina's 3 smiles

War and Peace. Volume I part I chapter 18. 
Count Bezukhov's in his deathbed. Prince Vasily Kuragin finds Katerina Semyonovna Mamontova to ask her about the count's will, together with the letter to the emperor, which would make Pierre the sole heir.
In this scene alone, Katerina smiles 3 times. 
"The princess smiled, as people do when they think they know more than the person they are talking to." 

"'What about our share?' asked the princess with a twisted smile, as if anything could happen, only not that." 

"'Now you have gone too far!' the princess interrupted, with a sardonic smile and no change in the expression of her eyes. 'I'm a woman, and you think we're all stupid, but I know this: an illegitimate son cannot inherit [...]'..." 
Within half a page, Tolstoy describes 3 different kinds of smiles, which effectively reflect Katerina's change of emotions. And that's enough. She becomes vivid and full of life. This is what I love and admire so much about Tolstoy, the painter, the psychologist, he sees everything, captures everything. His novels are life.

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