I tried to concentrate but after about twenty minutes I realised that the new BBC adaptation probably isn’t going to work for me. It didn’t help that Pierre looked like Harry Potter, but the real problem was that I couldn’t stop thinking of “Love and Death”. I know I should try harder. I’ll watch again next week and I’ll do my best to be more grown-up about it all. In the meantime, after being chastised by Andy Miller, Alex von Tunzelmann & Co on Twitter, I’m going to make yet another attempt to read the original. I think this will be my fifth go. As yet, I’ve never got beyond around 300 pages.What don’t I like about the novel? It’s the combination of a narrator who wants to explain too much and the inelegant, halting rhythm of the prose — for which the translators are presumably to blame. (Alex von T tells me I should go for the Pevear & Volokhonsky version.) I’ve never been able to finish “Anna Karenina” either, and apart from sections of “My Childhood” I can’t think of a single work of Tolstoy’s I’ve ever really enjoyed. How embarrassing is that? I wonder if there’s any kind of support group for people like me?
The Countess : “Would you like some wine? Something to put you in the mood?”
Boris: “I’ve been in the mood since the late seventeen hundreds.”