Last night I managed only one chapter again: Chapter 3 of Part 3 of War and Peace, and so I’m up to p. 32 of Volume II. The beginning of Part 3 has brought us from scenes of battle to scenes of peace, or Pierre agreeing to marry Ellen, and perhaps Mariya to marry Anatol. Both of these marriages give you the feeling that they’re going to have bad endings and some know it but are propelled by a sense of helplessness and fear. A sick inevitability, dread, the idea that they are being forced into a bad marriage but they are not strong enough to say no.
Portrait of a cad, pp. 26-27
“Anatol, in his shirt-sleeves, and with his arms akimbo, was sitting before a table on one corner of which he stared absent-mindedly with his large, handsome eyes, while a smile played over his lips. He looked on his life as one unbroken round of gayety which it was fated should be prepared for his amusement. And even now he looked in the same way on this visit to a churlish old man and a rich and monstrously ugly heiress. According to his theory, all this might lead to something very good and amusing. And who should he not marry her, if she were so very rich? ‘That never comes amiss,’ thought Anatol.”