Sunday, July 31, 2011

Collage 481

Volume III, Part Two, Chapter XXVI. Prince Andrei and Pierre are talking. I used some text here from a short story entitled "Captain Courageous". That certainly describes Prince Andrei. He says, "But what is war, what is needed for success in military affairs, what are the morals of military society? The aim of war is killing, the instruments of war are espionage, treason and the encouragement of it, the ruin of the inhabitants, robbing them or stealing to supply the army; deception and lying are called military stratagems; the morals of the military estate are absence of freedom, that is discipline, idleness, ignorance, cruelty, depravity, and drunkenness." He failed to mention rape, one of the most atrocious and utilized weapons of mass destruction. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 217-218, volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/22/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 775-777

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Collage 480

Lust and its destructive properties. --Emma

Emma Rhodes
from page 215-216, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/22/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 774-775

***Attention local readers!*** Lynn, Lola, and I will be leading a collaborative collage workshop this November at the Eliot School in Jamaica Plain. Below is a link to a more detailed description and registration information:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Collage 479

More discussion about theories of war. Prince Andrei and Pierre are talking about the ethics of pillaging and the leadership of a German who is leading the Russian forces. And about what determines victory. Pierre, the non-military person who for whatever reasons is hanging around the battlefield, says that war is like a game of chess. Prince Andrei says, "... in chess you can think over each move as long as you like, you're outside the conditions of time, and with this difference, too, that a knight is always stronger than a pawn, and two pawns are always stronger than one, while in war one battalion is sometimes stronger than a division and sometimes weaker than a company. Nobody can know the relative strength of the troops..." success never did and never will depend on position, or on ammunition, or even on numbers, but least of all on position."

This conversation make me think about the current political situation with the US involved in 3 wars -- Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya. The US spends many times over what the rest of the world combined spends on their military. If the US has superior military force, why does it drag on? (I'm not condoning use of military force or involvement.)  Prince Andrei has the answer: what's missing is the feeling in every soldier. If you ask anyone why we are in these wars, you always hear: "I have no idea". Now that's a problem. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 213-214, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/22/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 772-774

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Collage 478

We have a rule at Team Tolstoy. Actually we have lots of rules. But one of the most important is that we always work together in the studio -- although our far-flung correspondents can work on their own if getting to the studio is not possible. On this day, it was just Emma and I. This is a map that someone sent us -- maybe Otto? I like the gray background against the white. We are on the battlefield in the story at this point. The narrator comments many times during the battle scenes how no one has any idea what's happening. And yet there is so much discussion about strategy. It's kind of hard to make a strategy with little to no information! No unmanned drones during the battle of Borodino. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 211-212, Volume 2 of original text
made 4/15/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 771-772

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Collage 477

Lucy Arrington

Prince Andre contemplates death on the eve of battle:
"To die, to be killed tomorrow, to be no more... so that all this is here and I am not." He pictured vividly to himself his absence from life.

from page 209-210, Volume 2 of original text
collage, twine
made 4/15/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 769-771

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Collage 476

Volume III, Part Two, Chapter XXIII. Pierre is hanging out with the Russian army, just before the battle of Borodino. He is with the general Kutuzov, Boris and Dolokhov as well as many others. He and Dolokhov (my favorite bad-boy character) had a duel many chapters ago when Pierre was offended by Dolokhov's attentions to his wife Helene. Dokolhov asks for Pierre's forgiveness. 

I love Tolstoy's descriptions of nature. In this passage, he describes the scene prior to the battle. "... where soldiers were pulling down the last logs of the cottages and barns. Then downhill and uphill they rode on through broken rye, beaten down as if by hail...". Can't you just smell it? Feel it? Sense it? So in this collage, I added some hail, falling on the left side. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 207-208, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/15/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 767-769

Monday, July 25, 2011

Collage 475

'"What's that you're saying about the militia?" he said to Boris.
"They've put on white shirts, Your Serenity, getting ready for tomorrow, for death."
"Ah! . . . Wonderful, incomparable people!" said Kutuzov and, closing his eyes, he shook his head, "Incomparable people!" he said with a sigh.'
- page 766 in P/V

Emma Rhodes
from page 205-206, Volume 2 of original text
collage, oil crayon, graphite
made 4/15/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 766-767

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Collage 474

Lucy Arrington

In this piece I'm trying to evoke the chaos of battle, but it's hard to focus on the text sometimes... much easier to get carried away with color and texture!

page 203-204, Volume 2 of original text
collage, twine, ink, acrylic paint
made 4/15/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 764-766

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Collage 473

"When the service was over, Kutuzov went up to the icon, knelt down heavily, bowed to the ground, and for a long time tried and was unable to stand up because of his heaviness and weakness. His gray head twitched with the effort. Finally he stood up and, with a childishly naive puckering of the lips, kissed the icon and bowed again, touching the ground with his hand. The generals followed his example; then the officers, and after them, crushing each other, stamping, puffing and jostling, with excited faces, came the soldiers and militiamen." -p. 764 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 201-202, Volume 2 of original text
collage, pencil, ink
made 4/15/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 762-764

Friday, July 22, 2011

Collage 472

In this scene, Pierre is wandering around before the battle of Borodino. It has never been clear to me why he does this. Everywhere he goes, people stare and try to puzzle out what he is doing. He is not at all military in appearance. Pierre just kind of wanders.

"Beyond Valuevo, the road disappeared into a forest that showed yellow on the horizon. In this birch and fir forest, to the right of the road, the distant cross and bell tower of the Kolotsky monastery shone in the sun."

Lola Baltzell
from page 199-200, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/15/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 761-762

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Collage 471

Lucy Arrington
The mathematics of war:
"Tomorrow's the battle: for a hundred thousand troops we must figure at least twenty thousand wounded, and we don't have stretchers, or beds, or medics or doctors for even six thousand."

from page 197-198, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/15/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 759-761

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Collage 470

"On the morning of the twenty-fifth, Pierre was driving out of Mozhaisk. Going down the huge, steep, and crooked hill that led out of the town, past the cathedral that stood on the hill to the right, in which a service was going on and the bells were ringing, Pierre got out of the carriage and went on foot. Behind him some mounted regiment was coming down the hill with singers at its head. In the opposite direction came a train of carts with men wounded in yesterday's action. The peasant drivers, shouting at the horses and whipping them with knouts, kept running from one side to the other. The carts with three or four wounded men lying or sitting in them bounced up and down on the stones scattered over the steep ascent in the guise of pavement. The wounded men, bandaged with rags, pale, with compressed lips and frowning brows, clinging to the sides, bounced and jostled in the carts. They all looked at Pierre's white hat and green tailcoat with an almost naïve, childlike curiosity." -p 758 in P/V

I've italicized the sections on this page that I feel relate to this collage. Maps, hills, and "childlike curiosity." The pencil doodle featured here came out of a children's book that seemed to have been adopted as a sketchbook by the child that previously owned it. --Emma

Emma Rhodes
from page 195-196, Volume 2 of original text
made 4/15/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 756-759

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Collage 469

We are at the battle of Borodino.

Tolstoy dismisses historians who claim battle there was anticipated and the position fortified "(in an attempt to conceal the mistakes of our commanders and thereby diminishing the glory of the Russian army and people)" and does a wonderful recount of the strategy, or lack thereof, of how Kutuzov and his troops find themselves there. "The fact is that the former positions were stronger, and the position at Borodino (the one on which the battle was fought) not only was not strong, but could no more be considered a position than any other place in the Russian empire on which, by guesswork, one might randomly stick a pin in a map."- Adrienne

Adrienne Wetmore
from page 193-194, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 6/3/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 755-756

Monday, July 18, 2011

Collage 468

In this passage (Volume III, Part Two, Chapter XXIX), Tolstoy is talking about historical events and how we reconstruct them. He writes, "In offering and accepting battle at Borodino, Kutuzov and Napoleon acted involuntarily and senselessly. And only later did historians furnish the already accomplished facts with ingenious arguments for the foresight and genius of the commanders, who, of all the involuntary instruments of world events, were the most enslaved and involuntary agents."

In this collage I used pages from a book about World War I, now infamous for the senseless loss of so many lives. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 191-192, Volume 2 of original text
made 4/8/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 754-755

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Collage 467

I kept on going with the balloon imagery that I used in collage # 465. Pierre has finally decided to leave Moscow to join the battle at Mozhaisk.

"When my opponent has sixteen pieces and I have fourteen, I am only one-eighth weaker than he; but when I have traded thirteen pieces, he will be three times stronger than I." I am a terrible chess player and it goes without saying that I have no experience whatsoever in anything military, but I wanted to respond visually to this passage anyway.

Another passage describes Pierre's inner state: "a feeling of the need to undertake something and sacrifice something. He now experienced a pleasant sense of awareness that everything that constitutes people's happiness, the comforts of life, wealth, even life itself, is non-sense, which it is pleasant to throw away, in comparison with something... With what, Pierre could not account for to himself, nor did he try to clarify to himself for whom and for what he found it so particularly delightful to sacrifice everything. He was not concerned with what he wanted to sacrifice for, but the sacrificing itself constituted a new, joyful feeling for him."

I think that the whole point of this book is trying to define what Pierre is seeking. The spiritual quest. Everything else, historical and fictional, all 1200+ pages, is the scaffolding to explore this most compelling of all questions. What is the meaning of our lives? What truly provides happiness? I was drawn to study Russian as an undergraduate 30 years ago because I, too, wanted to understand all of this. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 189-190, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/8/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 752-754

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Collage 466

'Returning home from Vorontsovo and driving through Bolotnaya Square, Pierre saw a crowd at the execution ground, stopped, and got out of the droshky. It was the flogging of a French cook accused of spying. The flogging had just ended, and the executioner was releasing from the flogging-horse a fat man with red side-whiskers, in blue stockings and a green jacket, who was moaning pitifully. Another criminal, thin and pale, was standing nearby. Both, judging by their faces, were Frenchmen. With a morbidly frightened air, similar judging by their faces, were Frenchmen. With a morbidly frightened air, similar to that on the thin Frenchman's face, Pierce pushed his way through the crowd.

"What is this? Who? For what?" he asked. But the attention of the crowd-- office clerks, tradesmen, shopkeepers, muzhiks, women in coats and jackets-- was so eagerly concentrated on what was happening on the execution ground that nobody answered him.' -p 751 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 187-188, Volume 2 of original text
made 4/8/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 751-752

Friday, July 15, 2011

Collage 465

It was around this time that I began to pay much more attention to the story line. This collage "illustrates" a big hot-air balloon that the Russian sovereign had constructed for military use against the Napoleonic army.

"That day to distract himself, Pierre went to the village of Vorontsovo to look at the big hot air-balloon that was being constructed by Leppich to destroy the enemy, and the testing of the balloon, which was to go up the next day. The balloon was not ready yet, but, as Pierre learned, it was being constructed at the wish of the sovereign."

The footnote says: "Franz Leppich, a Dutch peasant, went to Moscow in 1812 to convince Rastopchin that he could build a hot-air balloon that would enable the Russians to attack the French from the air. (Leppich had made the same proposal a year ago to Napoleon, who had ordered him removed from French territory.) When the balloon was finally tried out, it failed to rise, and nothing more was seen of its inventor."

I find it interesting how Tolstoy weaves his story into history, or visa versa. Which makes me wonder about the whole genre of the "historical novels". Is this one of the first? Or is it insulting to call this masterpiece a "historical novel"? Tolstoy has a lot to say in the Epilogue about what this work is and what it is not. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 185-186, Volume 2 of original text
made 4/8/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 749-751

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Collage 464

"But how do you say it in Russian?" That is the last line of Volume III, Part Two, Chapter XVII. That's what I'm trying to figure out! In the story, Julie Karagin, a wealthy heiress, is attending a "soiree". The party-goers have agreed not to speak French or if caught, will have to pay a fine. Julie rarely or barely speaks Russian, but French exclusively, the language of the approaching Napoleonic troops. Interestingly, the first few sentences of the book start in French at another soiree where they are discussing Napoleon's European transgressions.

Four of us are traveling to Yasnaya Polyana, the Tolstoy Estate and Museum in Tula, Russia, late next month. We are going to spend 5 days there, to meet with the staff of Yasnaya Polyana and plan our show that is scheduled for next summer. In preparation, I am attempting to re-learn Russian. I was a Russian major as an undergraduate almost 30 years ago. It is a complex language! At this point I have only a very crude understanding, just enough to get in trouble! When you speak just a little bit, sometimes the listener assumes you have a stronger grasp of the language. TROUBLE!

A friend has a bilingual copy of War and Peace that I intend to borrow, to see if I can follow along side-by-side. Tolstoy uses many very long sentences, so it will be a challenge. But what a pleasure to get the feel for this text in the original language! -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 183-184, Volume 2 of original text
made 4/8/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 747-748

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Collage 463

Volume III, Part Two, Chapter XVIII.

Tolstoy comments at the beginning of this chapter on how people respond to danger. The tsar has already left Moscow but the mobility is still having lavish parties, just like he opening scene in Anna Pavlovna's soiree. The French army will arrive shortly.

"At the approach of danger, two voices always speak with equal force in a man's soul; one quite reasonably tells the man to consider the properties of the danger and the means of saving himself from it; the other says still more reasonably that it is too painful and tormenting to think about the danger, when it is not in man's power to foresee everything and save himself from the general course of things, and therefore it is better to turn away from the painful things until they come and think about what is pleasant. In solitude, a man most often yields to the first voice; in company, on the contrary, to the second. That is what now happened with the citizens of Moscow. It was long since there had been so much merrymaking in Moscow as there was that year."

I often wonder -- did Tolstoy write these epic novels as a platform for his opinions about just about everything? I'm sure that someone has cataloged all of his comments about love, war, relationships between lovers and cultures, God, all of it. Is his comment about response to danger true?

In this collage, I used a quote:

"A fine!" said a young man in a militia uniform, whom Julie called "mon chevalier," and who was going to Nizhny with her.

I used a map of Paris and French vocabulary for flowers and animals. Forbidden!

The gentry had decided that anyone spoke French, they would have to pay a fine. This was their idea of patriotism. This was their response to the imminent sacking of Moscow. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 181-182, Volume 2 of original text
made 4/8/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 746-747

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Collage 462

With the enemy's approach to Moscow, the Muscovites' view of their situation not only did not become more serious, but on the contrary, became still more light-minded, as always happens with people who see great danger approaching...It was long since there had been so much merrymaking in Moscow as there was that year.
-pp. 745-6 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 179-180, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/8/11
pp 744-746 in Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Monday, July 11, 2011

Collage 461

It's funny, sometimes I just don't recognize a piece at all at first glance. I think I was trying to get a less is more kinda thing here, but most likely I barreled into the composition without a lot of forethought. While that method sometimes works, this piece may be more chaotic than I had intended. Simple is not easy.-Adrienne

Adrienne Wetmore
from page 177-178, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/8/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 742-743

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Collage 460

Volume III, Part Two, Chapter XV. In this scene, Prince Andrei meets the wife of a priest. "... he noticed that behind the door a plump, red-cheeked, and beautiful woman in a pink dress, with a purple silk kerchief on her head, holding a platter and obviously waiting for the commander in chief to come in."

We have a huge box of old prints in the studio, one of which I used here. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 175-176, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/8/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 741-742

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Collage 459

"Well how's your father?"
"Yesterday I received news of his passing away," Prince Andrei said shortly.
Kutuzov looked at Prince Andrei with wide-open, startled eyes, then took off his cap and crossed himself: "God rest his soul! His will be done with us all!" He sighed deeply, with his whole chest, and fell silent. "I loved and respected him, and I sympathize with you wholeheartedly." He embraced Prince Andrei, pressed him to his fat chest, and did not let go of him for a long time. When he did, Prince Andrei saw that Kutuzov's swollen lips were trembling and there were tears in his eyes. He sighed and took hold of the bench with both hands in order to stand up.
-- p. 740 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 173-174, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/8/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 739-741

Friday, July 8, 2011

Collage 458

I have fallen in love with a paper bag from Papersource. The red and blue bits on the right are pieces of the bag, and it has found its way onto many collages. Some of my other favorite things to collage with have been retrieved from a rubbish bag in the studio, in particular a beautiful creamy white backing for some contact type paper. Unfortunately for the project, these materials are certainly not archival, but the fun is in the experimenting. -Adrienne

Adrienne Wetmore
from page 171-172, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/8/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 738-739

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Collage 457

In this scene, Princess Marya fears she has fallen in love with Rostov, who has come to her father's estate and rescued her from the muzhiks who are carrying off books and other valuables. She is ashamed to admit that she had fallen in love with a man "who, perhaps, would never love her." In her self-deprecating way, Marya comforts herself by thinking that to the end of her life, she need not speak of it to anyone but go on loving "the one she loved for the first and last time." Her companion, Dunyasha, notices her smiling sadly out the window. And Rostov's companions too, notice a cheerfulness in him after their encounter. Will there be love between them? -- Trish

Trish Crapo
from page 169-170, Volume 2 of original text
made 5/5/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 736-737

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Collage 456

"I make so bold as to report to Your Excellency that the coarse local people do not want to allow our mistress to quit the estate and threaten to unharness the horses, so that, though everything has been packed since morning, her excellency cannot leave." -- Lynn

Lynn Waskelis
from page 167-168, Volume 2 of original text
made 4/1/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 734-736

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Collage 455

This collage looks so much like one posted a few days ago that I had to double check that I had the right one. Sometimes I get in a groove with Payne's gray.

We are in a very important scene. Princess Marya has decided to [finally] quit Bald Hills after her father just died and they are practically surrounded by French troops. She is rescued by Nikolai Rostov. It is their chance meeting outside of high society. She is in a desperate situation and he is gallant.

"When she mentioned all that had happened the day after her father's funeral, her voice trembled. She turned away and then, as if fearing that Rostov might take her words for a wish to move him to pity her, gave him a questioningly frightened glance. Tears welled up in Rostov's eyes. Princess Marya noticed it and looked at Rostov gratefully, with that luminous gaze which made one forget the plainness of her face." Love is in the air! How romantic!  -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 165-166, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink, acrylic paint
made 4/1/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 733-734

Monday, July 4, 2011

Collage 454

Emma Rhodes
from page163-164, Volume 2 of original text
made 4/1/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 731-733

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Collage 453

And Princess Marya said aloud the endearing words he had said to her on the day of his death: "De-ear he-eart!" Princess Marya repeated the words and sobbed with tears that eased her soul. She now saw his face before her. Not the face she had known ever since she could remember, and which she had always seen from a distance, but the face-- timid and weak-- which on the last day, as she bent close to his mouth to hear what he said, she had seen for the first time close up, with all its wrinkles and details.
"Dear heart," she repeated.
--p. 730 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 161-162, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/1/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 729-731

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Collage 452

In this scene, Princess Marya falls into a reverie, reflecting on her father's death. It breaks your heart, her wish that her father had called for her on his deathbed, rather than one of the servants. Even with his rejection of her, she still faults herself for standing outside his door and not entering (against his wishes).

"'My God!' Why didn't I go in then? What would he have done to me? What would I have lost? And perhaps then he would have been comforted and would have told he his word."

Is she a martyr in a neurotic way, or just advanced in her spiritual practices? I am fascinated by her. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 159-160, Volume 2 of original text
collage, ink
made 4/1/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 728-729

Friday, July 1, 2011

Collage 451

In this scene (Volume III, Part Two, Chapter X and XI), the old prince has just died, and Princess Marya has to decide how and when to leave their country estate as the French troops are surrounding them. I have developed a special fondness for her. We sometimes discuss our favorite characters when we work, and I always am a big fan of Princess Marya. I relate to her mostly because I, too, have a tyrannical father figure. It bothers me greatly how abusive he is to her in each and every scene. I was happy that he died, actually. Now she can be free to live her own life. Of course women in her day had extremely limited choices, but I hope she finds her way!

"It was strange for Princess Marya to think that now, at a moment when such grief filled her soul, there could be rich and poor people, and that the rich would not help the poor." She is so thoughtful and sensitive. I am rooting for her! -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 157-158, Volume 2 of original text
made 4/1/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 726-728