from page 375-376, Volume 2 of original text
collage, thread, marker
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 905-907
It's interesting the synchronicity that happens across collages in this project! Because I live too far from the East Boston studio to come in regularly, I often work alone out here in Western Massachusetts. I had not known that Lola had written in French on the preceding collage when I scrawled "J'ai ete a Paris," in gold pen across mine.
I chose the phrase because in this scene Pierre is dining with French officers who had burst into a Moscow apartment and almost killed a man that Pierre protects, begging the French not to harm a "drunken, insane man."
It is not clear whether Pierre is being taken prisoner or not, as he is served roast lamb, an omelette, tea, vodka, wine and kvass, all of which he partakes of hungrily. (Thus the bits of wrapping paper printed with images of food...)
The merriment around the table increases incrementally with the bottles of vodka and wine, and one of the French officers tells Pierre that if he had not told him he was Russian, he would have thought he was Parisian. "Vous avez ce ...je ne sai quoi..." the officer says, to which Pierre replies, "J'ai été a Paris (I was in Paris), j'y ai passé des annés (I spent years there)."