I am going to break with our usual attempt to match the artist with their words -- I will write for Adrienne. I really like one particular passage here. Hope you don't mind, Adrienne!
What I like about this passage is that it is completely politically incorrect. Back in Tolstoy's day, I guess you could make the following kinds of statements:
"A Frenchman is self-assured because he considers himself personally, in mind as well as body, irresistibly enchanting for men as well as women. An Englishman is self-assured on the grounds that he is a citizen of the best-organized state in the world, and therefore, as an Englishman, he always knows what he must do, and knows that everything he does as an Englishman is unquestionably good. An Italian is self-assured because he easily forgets himself and others. A Russian is self-assured precisely because he does not know anything and does not want to know anything, because he does not believe it possible to know anything fully. A German is self-assured worst of all, and most firmly of all, and most disgustingly of all, because he imagines that he knows the truth, science, which he has invented himself, but which for he is the absolute truth."
I wonder what he might have said about Americans? -- Lola
from page 49-50, Volume 2 original text
Pevear/Volokhonsky translatin page 638-639