I went to the clinic to get a prescription renewed. In the lobby, I filled out a form attesting to the absence of cornonavirus symptoms. “Have you had contact with anyone with Covid in the last two weeks?” No. Then the tech tried to get a temperature reading on me. I did not respond to the thermometer gun aimed at my head. She tried three different thermometers. BLAP! BLAP! BLAP!
“Perhaps I do not exist,” I said brightly. A scowl in return. She did not know I was joking. You can’t get past the foyer unless you have a normal temperature. They waved me in with no temperature, though. I thought of Twilight and Interview with a Vampire.
Anyway, I got in. Fabulous! What fun. ALL the blood work is bad. Thank you, pandemic, for keeping me inside for most of seven months so I don’t get Covid but get generally run-down. All the numbers went up, even my blood pressure, which used to be low, and now is normal. That can’t be good! I faithfully promised to exercise…long Emily Bronte-style walk on the moors–and took an exhausting bike ride with my husband the same day to get all the numbers down, down, down. If I biked like that very day, I would be healthy…but asleep by 8 o’clock.
AND NOW FOR A WAR AND PEACE QUIZ.
War and Peace is my favorite novel, even more brilliant than Villette, my other favorite. But the other day I came across a W&P character list and name pronunciation guide, and learned, by God, that I have mispronounced the names of my two favorite 19th-century Russian families for years.
Who wouldn’t love to live with the charming Rostovs? I especially like the company of Nicholas and Natasha. Rostov is pronounced Ros-TOV, not ROS-tov, which sounds better to me. And I adore Pierre Bezhukov, but it is Bezh-U-kov, not BEZH-u-kov.
The Maudes (my favorite translators of Tolstoy) would be disappointed in me. Louise and Aylmer Maude were meticulous translators, knew Tolstoy, and it is their character and pronunciation list. But I’ll always call these characters the ROS-tovs and the BEZH-u-kovs. We have our linguistic biases. I once knew a Spanish family who called their cat Gatsby “Gots-by.” The same thing.