Author Topic: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~  (Read 1003 times)

PatH

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #40 on: February 10, 2018, 05:00:11 PM »



JOIN US AS WE DISCUSS


A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW

BY AMOR TOWLES.



During February and March, we will be filling cold, gray days by reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles in the Senior Learn Book Club.  Our prediscussion will begin on February 7.  Let's introduce ourselves, and then perhaps talk about what we know of the goings-on in Russia in the early 20th century and our impressions of the Russian people. Those of us who grew up in the 50s and 60s could share how we learned of the Russians and the feelings we had about all of this.  This will also be a place for questions about the discussion, the assigned reading schedule and about each other.  Let's save discussion of the text until February 12 when we begin the actual discussion.


                           Discussion Schedule for A Gentleman in Moscow


February 12     Book 1

February 19.    Book 2 and Book 3 through Addendum p. 228

February 26.    Book 3  An Arrival 229- end of book 3

March 5           Books 4 and 5

March 12         Wrap up Discussion




The author's website www.amortowles.com is a wonderful place to get to know the Amor Towles. He has a lot of supplementary information about the book.  There is even a delightful video, which you will want to watch.



Discussion Leader:  MKaren


PatH

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #41 on: February 10, 2018, 05:01:33 PM »
Callie, nobody's a misfit here.  We all bring something and learn something.

CallieinOK

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #42 on: February 10, 2018, 05:57:07 PM »
Pat,  agreed. 

rosemarykaye

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #43 on: February 10, 2018, 06:17:13 PM »
I've ordered Casablanca - I'm 3/4 of the way through the book and I don't have a clue what Casablanca's got to do with it - looking forward to finding out!  I always miss lots of references in books. When I first went to university I was torn to shreds by an old battleaxe of a tutor, who was infuriated because I had no idea whatsoever about the Book of Common Prayer and therefore had not a clue about all the references to it in early literature. I can see what she meant, but I still don't think that justified a public humiliation! 

As you said, that's the joy of reading along with others - we'll all bring something different to it (I'll bring all the uninformed questions...)

Rosemary

bellamarie

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #44 on: February 10, 2018, 07:42:14 PM »
rosemarykaye
Quote
I always miss lots of references in books.

You are not alone.  I always envied those who seem to be able to not only find so many references, but gee zoo golly they come up with so many references my head spins.  Sometimes a book is just a book to be enjoyed, rather than analyzed.

 
Quote
I still don't think that justified a public humiliation! 

I agree, there is never a time any teacher of any kind should publicly humiliate a student.  I remember when my daughter was in 6th grade (she was diagnosed with audio perception, which for those who aren't familiar with it, it means she has difficulty learning through audio instructions.)  She was at the blackboard attempting to do a math problem and her teacher was speaking to her with her back to her.  My daughter got so nervous and confused, this teacher called her a "dumb ass" in front of the entire class.  She was mortified!!  I taught at this school and visited this teacher outside her classroom the next morning.  She had the nerve to try to tell me that "ass" means donkey so she did not use it in a vulgar sense.  I asked, and just what excuse to do have for using the word "dumb" referring to my daughter?  I told her she better never humiliate a student again in front of their class, if I hear about it, I will have her job.  Some people were NOT meant to be teachers.  Ughhhh...

Callie, thank you for the heads up about PBS airing Casablanca tonight.  I may record it on my dvr.

“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

PatH

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #45 on: February 10, 2018, 08:00:03 PM »
Alas, Casablanca isn't on here tonight, but I have seen the movie, and will no doubt be able to manage to rewatch it sometime soon.

Surely the job of a good teacher is to make you understand, not sneer at you for not already knowing something.

CallieinOK

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #46 on: February 10, 2018, 08:41:31 PM »
Bellamarie,  What an awful experience for your daughter.  No student of any age should ever be humiliated at any time in any place for any reason.
My grandson is the opposite of your daughter.  He is an "audio learner" and had great difficulty with teachers whose teaching method was "read the chapter and answer the questions at the end".  He is now sailing through college lecture classes.

Jonathan,  I'm already humming "As Time Goes By".



rosemarykaye

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #47 on: February 11, 2018, 08:20:14 AM »
How horrible, Bellamarie. There were so many teachers like that when i was at school.

When we first moved to Edinburgh we sent my youngest - then about 12 - to one of the well known private schools in the city. She was bullied, sidelined and generally made miserable by the ethos of the place (which was very 'old Edinburgh') but the very worst thing was the sports master, who had moved there from an all boys' school. [This school she was at had only recently started taking girls, and the place was still run like a very hearty boys' school. (We should never have sent her there, but it had an extremely well equipped art department).] This sports master shouted at her in front of the whole class about her poor running skills (she has always been a little uncoordinated) and yelled that he wanted to see her running until she was 'physically sick'. I removed her from the school after that episode - she was coming home in tears every day - and moved her to the Steiner School, where she flourished and is now at art college in London. And this episode with the gym teacher was only 7 years ago - I imagine he's still carrying on just the same (in fact I know someone whose son was at the school he came from, and he said this guy was far from their worst gym teacher - imagine). It's a 'make them into men' culture that dominates our old private schools - and see what it turns out? Politicians with no empathy whatsoever.

Well done for standing up to your daughter's teacher! I was brought up never to answer teachers back - they, along with vicars, bank managers, etc, were set on pedastals by my parents' generation. I wish I had given that gym teacher a piece of my mind. I would now.

Rant over! I will now return to the book....I'm nearing the end, and eagerly awaiting both the discussion proper and the arrival of my Casablanca DVD.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend - I am off now for a walk in the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, then I will go to Evensong, come home and enjoy Call the Midwife. Perfect!

Rosemary

Jonathan

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #48 on: February 11, 2018, 12:14:19 PM »
What fun this is going to be. I look forward to sharing my off-the-wall answers to your 'uninformed questions'. I seem to recall thinking that the Book of Common Prayer was at one time, practically, a political pamphlet, much like Mao's little Red Book in the time of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. I was of the opinion that English schools are models of efficiency and enlightenment. No longer the pedagogical disasters of the 19th century. The many accounts were an early 'me-too' phenomenan'.

The movie last night was so enjoyable. It's relationship to the book will no doubt unfold as time goes by. The film was made as events unfolded in Moscow. Did the Gentleman watching it perhaps say to himself 'That's me! That could be me!' Book and film do have one thing in common. They both do grow on one.

BarbStAubrey

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #49 on: February 11, 2018, 01:41:26 PM »
Holy Hannah Jonathan - there is not that much in the news - is it the norm for girls to come from English Schools that defiled and traumatized that they are part of the 'me too' phenomenan - how is any parent sending their daughters to any English School - I would think this is one that would by now have the entire country in a national uproar with the guilty teachers in the court room. We cannot even talk about bullying then which would be mild in comparison - oh I'm sick - I knew the suffragettes were given a harsher time with such demeaning experiences in prison but little girls just going to school are that defiled - does no one know what that does to a girl for the rest of her life - where do you think PTSD started - the soldiers only learned of the phenomenon from the life long experience of those sexually abused as children, never mind adult women sexually harassed - has the British news just decided not to make public these teachers because maybe their actions were not as prolific as Dr. Nassar - is this the experience of your daughter in Scotland as well Rosemary or is this only taking place in English Schools? I am shattered. Need to get off here.   

PatH

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #50 on: February 11, 2018, 02:02:15 PM »
Barb, I think "defiled" is the wrong word to use for what Rosemary described.  Humiliation and bullying in an inexcusable and harmful way, but not defiled.

bellamarie

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #51 on: February 11, 2018, 02:45:31 PM »
Rosemarykaye, I am certain today you would do differently and stand up to that gym teacher.  So glad to hear you pulled your daughter and look at her today!  This same teacher I mentioned told me and my hubby a few years later that our youngest son would not succeed in the world because he does not know how to be loyal.  She went on to explain how he got her in trouble with another teacher because the class was told to bring in a newspaper about the results of the election for History class.  This particular teacher heard the students being concerned they would get in trouble because their parents do not have the paper delivered to their home, so she spoke up and told the students the History teacher should not assign something all students are not able to do.  My son did indeed repeat her words to the History teacher, which caused the two teachers to have some words.  I had to giggle as she relayed this story to me, and then responded,  "I beg to differ with you, I see my son being very successful in his future because he is willing to stand up for his fellow classmates." Years later I ran into this teacher and she asked about my oldest son who she favored.  I told her he was doing well and that my youngest son is now creating programs working for UPS Logistics saving Ford Motor Co. millions of dollars a year in saving them transportation costs.  I said he is highly respected managing thirty-five employees under him and just recently was honored by his company as one of the most successful in his department, with his supervisor and others higher up telling me at the awards dinner how well liked he is and how his loyalty to the employees and company have earned him high respect from everyone.  I think that teacher could have fainted!  Alas... never underestimate a mother's insight. 

Path., Yes, humiliated, but not defiled. 
Barb,  I am in shock with all that is on the news of sexual assaults happening to these Michigan State athletes for years on end, not to mention Hollywood keeping silent for years knowing what was and continues to happen.  Shame on them for staying silent, they feared it would harm their own fame and fortune.

Well, I realize we do not have PBS station so no Casablanca for me last night.  I accidentally clicked Direct TV Cinema station and almost purchased it for $15.00.  I hurried and contacted Direct TV to make sure that was not a purchase.  Don't want to spend that kind of money for that movie.  I may rent it for a couple bucks.

We woke up to all ice, so it's a stay off the roads and sidewalks for me. 
Rosemarykaye, your day does indeed sound perfect. 
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

rosemarykaye

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #52 on: February 11, 2018, 04:02:49 PM »
I agree, my daughter was not defiled.

Barb - this was in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. It has an exceptionally high number of private schools, but they're not all as bad as that one. The state schools would never get away with that kind of thing nowadays, thank goodness. The Steiner school is actually 'private', in that there are fees, but they are kept low and there is a lot of help given to those who can't afford it. For any trip or event, costs are kept to a minimum and the classes do lots of energetic fundraising - whereas at some of the very traditional Edinburgh schools the fees are very high and the numerous trips can cost £1000s per pupil - with a lot of pressure put on parents to cough up. One school took a class to Antarctica! It's an awful lot of oneupmanship.

Bellemarie - how wonderful that your son had the bravery to stand up for his classmates. No wonder he is doing so well. I want to emphasise - as I know some of our fellow senior learners are retired teachers - that most of my children's teachers have been fantastic, hard-working, inspirational people, some of whom I'm still in contact with today. And now my elder daughter is training to teach primary school. Unfortunately there are just the very few who aren't so good, and even more unfortunately it's often their mishandling of situations that stays with us.

Read some more about the Count on the bus coming home from the Botanics this afternoon.

Off to catch up with Call the Midwife now!

Rosemary

Jonathan

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #53 on: February 11, 2018, 05:45:37 PM »
Has anyone read the author's first book, Rules of Civility? Manhattan in the late-1930's. And is our book more on a similar theme? Looking for gentility in revolutionary Moscow compared to civility in cosmopolitan New York?

That reminds me of an experience many years ago. I was lolling in my bunk, in a wilderness lodge in upstate New York, reading Philip Roth's latest: Sabbath's Theater. After a long day's hike. In came two fellows from NYC, it turned out. They took note of what I was reading and to my question what was it like to live in NYC, one replied succinctly: On a busy street or on the subway, don't make eye contact and if you should jostle someone, apologize profusely.

I've just finished reading Tina Brown's The Vanity Fair Diaries. The English editor and journalist's ten busy years in New York (1983-1920 A very stimulating read. I'm still not over those opening paragraphs describing her shocking first encounter with New York mores. Unprintable.

About the English schools, I was thinking of the many stories of boys being flogged. In Victorian times.

BarbStAubrey

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #54 on: February 11, 2018, 07:05:54 PM »
Not in sever reaction to your description Rosemary of your daughter's bullying by a teacher - as bad as this behavior is there is a way to confront the teacher without having to hire an attorney - what I cannot cope with is "'me-too' phenomenan'" I see it as  far more than a phenomenon except maybe it took this many hundreds of years for women to not only open their mouths but to band together and make public this horrendous abuse - and deeply disturbing that it is part of the experience in English Schools for Girls - and for it to be taken so lightly... as if still there is something wrong with saying aloud "Me Too" as if a phenomenon which suggest a temporary simple and questionable culture thing. Sorry this hits me in the gut that this movement could be considered so lightly. 

Jonathan

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #55 on: February 11, 2018, 10:07:02 PM »
I'm sorry that I was misunderstood.

CallieinOK

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #56 on: February 12, 2018, 12:02:24 AM »
Jonathan,  I'm currently reading "The Vanity Fair Diaries" and wasn't too surprised with her description of New York.  My 24 year old granddaughter moved there from Oklahoma just over a year ago and was told the same thing - do not make eye contact!  Hard for an Okie who's used to smiling at everyone but she has adjusted.  She also had to get used to hearing "cat calls" from Hispanic guys hanging around the street corners as she walked from the subway stop to her apartment - particularly since she's a fair-skinned redhead.  However, she says she knew not to react and has never felt in danger .   
'Tis a different world out there!!!

Mkaren557

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #57 on: February 12, 2018, 07:02:05 AM »
Good Morning, Everyone.  Today is the big day.  It is Abraham Lincoln's birthday. When I was a little girl I used to tell people that Old Abe was born on my birthday.  I was so sad when someone told me that I had it backwards:  I had to say that I was born on his birthday.    However, the real importance of this day for us is that we begin discussing A Gentleman in Moscow.For this week we will be in Book One. I loved Barb's sharing of this article http://newmexicomercury.com/blog/comments/the_lost_poets_of_the_russian_revolution
Let's talk about the actual beginning: the poem and the transcript.  What were your first impressions?  What questions did you have? What did you learn about the Count?



PatH

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #58 on: February 12, 2018, 10:41:16 AM »
Happy birthday, Karen.

I agree about Barb's poets link--very valuable.

rosemarykaye

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #59 on: February 12, 2018, 12:12:33 PM »
Jonathan - please do not apologise, I quite understand what you meant. Yes those Victorian boys' schools were terrible places, but unfortunately English 'public' schools (which for some ancient reason means the really expensive private ones - like Harrow, Eton, Winchester, Stowe, Downside, Marlborough - that sort of place) in particular can still be pretty brutal places (though of course flogging is no longer a thing). Some of the Edinburgh ones model themselves closely on the English schools, others less so. Some began as charitable foundations, started by merchants' guilds and organisations like that - they are generally much better.

Steiner was perfect for my youngest but it would not suit everyone. In almost any other city in the UK the vast majority of the children would go to state (ie government run and funded) schools - Edinburgh is very weird in this way. People send their children to private schools partly because for some it is a family tradition, but also because people are increasingly alarmed by the huge class sizes and dismal funding cuts affecting the state schools. In some, discipline is a huge problem, plus there are very serious shortages of teachers, especially in subjects like Maths and sciences. Arts subjects like music, art and drama - anything that does not form part of the government's core curriculum - are being ditched, so that's another thing people move their children for - private schools tend to have better facilities for all of these things.

Teachers are leaving the state schools in droves as they are overwhelmed by the ever increasing work load, the constant criticism in the press and other media (eg there are now websites on which people can anonymously rate their teachers - you can imagine how that can go...), the paperwork, and the complex social and domestic issues affecting many pupils. My son works in an outdoor adventure centre to which many schools bring groups for a week's stay - he says the only happy-looking teachers are the ones working in the private schools.

I must read that Tina Brown book. London is also a place where eye contact is not encouraged. People are busy, frantic even, and no-one knows anyone else so they are also suspicous. Having said that, my mother has lived there all her life and has numerous friends, and my two daughters, both of whom grew up in Scotland, love living down there.

Anyway, enough about all that and onward with the book!

Rosemary

rosemarykaye

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #60 on: February 12, 2018, 12:33:51 PM »
Karen - happy birthday!

I have reread the poem and the report. I still don't have a clue what the poem is about really. I liked the line about the 'eye-averting peeling of a pear' but all I thought it was was a reference to the way people often seem not to be concentrating when they are making some life-changing statement. They seek refuge in doing some mundane thing, almost as if to avoid any repercussions.

The report didn't make me like the Count very much. I thougt he was far too full of himself, with all his clever-clever answers. (Of course we gradually learn a lot more about this apparently simple situation..) I was prepared to find him irritating throughout the book. How quickly that wore off!

I await enlightenment from people who read more deeply than I did/do...

Rosemary

Mkaren557

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #61 on: February 12, 2018, 03:27:55 PM »
Thank you, Rosemary.  I am still trying to figure out the poem myself.  I think the line. "Well, where is our purpose now?" is important. It also seemed that the Count was being tried for becoming all he was supposedly critical of in the poem.  I am trying patiently to let understanding evolve.

BarbStAubrey

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #62 on: February 12, 2018, 03:55:24 PM »
Sorry but the 'me too' initiative has my insides jumping around as it is and when it is minimized I can't handle it - I'll be ready Wednesday - just need a day or so to get my head back on straight and my tummy where it belongs -  :-*

bellamarie

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #63 on: February 12, 2018, 04:02:39 PM »
Happy Birthday Karen!!!

For those who do not have your books yet I will post the poem:

How well I remember

When it came as a visitor on foot
And dwelt a while amongst us
A melody in the semblance of a mountain cat.

Well, where is our purpose now?

Like so many questions
I answer this one
With the eye-averted peeling of a pear.

With a bow I bid goodnight
And pass through terrace doors
Into the simple splendors
Of another temperate spring;

But this much I know:

It is not lost among the autumn leaves on Peter's Square.
It is not among the ashes in the Athenaeum ash cans.
It is not inside the blue pagodas of your fine Chinoiserie.

It is not in Vronsky's saddlebags;
Not in Sonnet XXX, stanza on;
Not on twenty-seven red...


Where Is It Now? (Lines 1-19) Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov

In reading the poem I immediately felt the Count is asking, where is our purpose in life?  He seems to say in the beginning that he remembers when it came, but then he seems to feel we have lost our purpose in life, and is now trying to find it, and realizes it is not in the places we have traveled, music we have listened to etc., and nor is it in the changing seasons.  All the things he has listed seems as if they are all the things one would find their purpose in life in, and yet he feels we have lost our purpose in spite of having all these things.  He goes on to tell us where it is not. In so doing, I feel he is telling us we look for our purpose in life, in all the wrong places and things. In reading this, it makes me feel we must find our purpose in life from within ourselves, rather than in the outside world and material things.  You can travel the world over, have the best of the best, the finest of things and still not know your purpose in life.  He states:

pg. 5  "I have lived under the impression that a man's purpose is known only to God.


“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

rosemarykaye

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #64 on: February 12, 2018, 04:15:38 PM »
Oh well done Bellamarie - brilliant analysis, I can see exactly what you mean, but I could never have got that far myself. No wonder I gave up English Lit and switched to Social & Political Studies!

rosemarykaye

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #65 on: February 12, 2018, 04:22:19 PM »
Karen - I think I must be really dim but I don't understand your thoughts on the poem. What is he supposed to be criticising? Sorry, I'm probably asking really stupid questions.

bellamarie

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #66 on: February 12, 2018, 04:34:03 PM »
Rosemarykaye, we were posting at the same time as I was addressing Karen's thought.

Karen
Quote
It also seemed that the Count was being tried for becoming all he was supposedly critical of in the poem.

This all seems well and good, except the tribunal reads much more into the poem, feeling he is possibly sending a secret message to the people to uprise against all these things.

pg. 4  "What concerns us here is your return in 1918.  One wonders if you came back with the intention of taking up arms, and if so, whether for our against the Revolution."

pg. 5   Ignatov:  Alexander Ilyich Rostov, taking into full account your own testimony, we can only assume that the clear-eyed spirit who wrote the poem Where Is It Now? has succumbed irrevocably to the corruptions of his class-and-now poses a threat to the very ideals he once espoused.

The Count did not help his case by being flippant and unapologetic to the court.  He almost seemed to be daring them with his arrogance.  They clearly resent his position, attitude and answers.
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

bellamarie

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #67 on: February 12, 2018, 05:04:50 PM »
Barb, 
Quote
Sorry but the 'me too' initiative has my insides jumping around as it is and when it is minimized I can't handle it.
I hate to say it, but I think Hollywood is the cause of people now minimizing the "Me too" initiative.  It is a real concern and needs to be addressed on a larger level, but because so many celebrities, coaches, high esteem schools, networks etc., are involved in the behaviors it was bound to be swept under the rug, and let the next news cycle take it's place.  I am disgusted, appalled, and frustrated along with feeling a sickness inside me as well.  Some will be prosecuted who are not a part of the "celebrity scene."  Look how fast they prosecuted Nassar.  Where is Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polansky, Matt Laurer, Bill Clinton, and all the other celebrities who have been accused?  There is a double standard in this country and it is clear the upper echelon will protect their own. This list is the reason it is now being minimized:

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/sexual-misconduct/weinstein-here-s-growing-list-men-accused-sexual-misconduct-n816546

So, as harsh as it may seem, I have decided not to get myself involved in listening to any more of the reports, because even the media is a part of cover ups.  I hope this helps you in some way.  Take the time you need to regroup.  Looking forward to your participation in A Gentleman In Moscow. 
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

Mkaren557

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #68 on: February 12, 2018, 05:16:32 PM »
I think that when the poem first appeared ,(1913) the revolutionaries found it supportive of their position; they sae it as being critical of the aristocracy, who had "lost their purpose" wallowing in their own wealth and power.  The revolutionaries saw the poem as a "call to action " Since the Count returned from Paris in 1918, the Bolsheviks see the Count still living as an aristocrat.  They accuse him of betraying the goals of the Revolution.  I agree that he seemed arrogant at times, but the prosecutor calls him "charming" which he claims is typical of an aristocrat.
If he irritated the judges, why did they not "send him to the wall.


rosemarykaye

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #69 on: February 12, 2018, 05:36:45 PM »
Yes, that is the big question Karen. Of course if he'd been shot there wouldn't be much of a story! I haven't quite finished the book yet, so maybe we eventually find out why he was spared. I think it'd be quite cool to be banished to live at Claridges for a few years....

bellamarie

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #70 on: February 12, 2018, 07:31:38 PM »
Karen
Quote
the prosecutor calls him "charming" which he claims is typical of an aristocrat.
In context, from what I am gathering, Ignatov is pretty much letting the Count know he thinks even though he is an aristocrat, and some find him charming, he sees him as a lost soul.  He uses the word charming to actually insult him.  A man without purpose.

The very beginning of the trial  says:

pg 3    Vyshisky:  You may have your titles; they are of no use to anyone else.
           Before we begin, I must say, I do not think I have ever seen a jacket festooned with so many buttons."
Rostov: Thank you.
Vyshisky:  It was not meant as a compliment.
Rostov:  In that case, I demand satisfaction on the field of honor.
(Laughter)

pg 5  Vyshinsky:  Count Rostov, you do not seem to appreciate the gravity of your position.  Nor do you show the respect that is due the men convened before you.
Ignatov:  I have no doubt, Count Rostov, that many in the gallery are surprised to find you so charming; but I, for one, am not surprised in the least.  History has shown charm to be the final ambition of the leisure class.  What I do find surprising is that the author of the poem in question could have become a man so obviously without purpose.

They are not at all impressed with the Count, and the Count is making a mockery of the court.  As in the good ole USA, Judge Judy Scheindlin would call this a pissing match.  (excuse my language)   :-[

The logical reason they did not send him to the wall is as Rosemary stated, there would not be a story to tell.  But they did make it very clear to the Count he has run out of chances.

pg 6  Thus, it is the opinion of this committee that you should be returned to that hotel of which you are so fond of.  But make no mistake; should you ever set foot outside of the Metropol again, you will be shot.

I was reading an interview Amor Towles gave where he said there are parts of the book he drew from real life and facts, but the book is not based on anyone in particular and he blended the facts in with fiction.  So in reality, maybe a person like the Count would not have been given exile, and been shot. 
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

PatH

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #71 on: February 12, 2018, 09:49:11 PM »
Bellamarie:
Quote
So in reality, maybe a person like the Count would not have been given exile, and been shot.
I think the Count feels sure he will be shot, and that at least partly explains his behavior.  The trial is a foregone conclusion, no point in trying for any sort of meaningful defense.  Much better to give his simplistic, absent-minded non-answers.  He has plenty of courage though, to behave this way.

Jonathan

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #72 on: February 12, 2018, 10:37:57 PM »
You all are doing such a splendid thing with these few iines of poetry and the few lines of trial transcript. Whatever will become of this abject gentleman without a purpose in life? Do we have a great literary figure in the making? A Don Quixote? A Private Schweik?

Barb, I love your spirited replies to controversial social issues. They deserve a hearing; but not at the expense of gastroenterological discomfort. I wish you a speedy recovery. Thanks for the splendid link to the Russian revolutionary poets. They were so ardent in helping to create a new, ideal society in Russia. And the Commissars were anxious  to get their support. Orders must have come from Moscow to spare the Count. Four years into the revolution, perhaps some felt the party had lost its purpose.

Happy Birthday, Karen. How grand to share it with Abraham Lincoln and the Groundhog! A clear shadow today. Six more weeks of Winter. Blah!!

Mkaren557

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #73 on: February 12, 2018, 11:44:11 PM »
Thank you all so much for a wonderful Day 1.  I agree with Jonathan that the Count and everyone back at the hotel believe that he will be shot.  I love the wit and humor that the count uses at his interrogation.  Apparently house arrest was a fairly common sentence for political prisioners and it makes sense that somwome wants him to be spared, Jonathan.  I wonder how the Count feels as he walks to the hotel with his guards.  I have a lot to consider tonight.  I love the next section as the Count settles into his new situation.  Have a great night.

bellamarie

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #74 on: February 13, 2018, 09:24:19 AM »
PatH.,  that is an interesting thought, the Count felt for sure he was going before the firing squad, so he played it off as flippant, giving no apology or defending his words in the poem.  Brave, I am not so sure, arrogant indeed!

Jonathan, yes, he does mention a few characters as he assesses his situation:
pg 20  On the Grand Duke's desk stood a champagne flute and a brandy snifter.  With the lean uprightness of a former looking down upon the squat rotundity of the latter, one could not help but think of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza on the plains of the Sierra Morena.  Or of Robin Hood and Friar Tuck in the shadows of Sherwood Forest.  Or of Prince Hal and Falstaff before the gates of___

I especially loved this part:
pg 21  Leaning to his side in order to peer around a high-back chair, the Count discovered that this will-o'-the-wisp was non other than the Metropol's lobby cat.  A one-eyed Russian blue who let nothing within the hotel's walls escape his notice, he had apparently come to the attic to review the Count's new quarters for himself.  Stepping from the shadows, he leapt from the floor to the Ambassador, from the Ambassador to the side table, and from the side table to the top of the three-legged bureau, without making a sound.  Having achieved this vantage point, he gave the room a good hard look then shook his head in feline disappointment.  "Yes, said the Count after completing his own survey.  "I see what you mean."

When I read this I could imagine Towles deciding, hmmm.... let's add a cat to the story who roams around the attic, and oh let's have him have only one eye!  Sort of made me think of the Cheshire cat in Alice In Wonderland, up in the tree observing things.  Did you know:

The Cheshire Cat is the only character in Wonderland who actually listens to Alice. With his remarks, he teaches Alice the 'rules' of Wonderland. He gives her insight in how things work down there.

https://www.google.com/search?q=what+type+of+cat+is+dinah+from+alice+in+wonderland&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS722US722&oq=what+type+of+cat+was+in+Alice+&aqs=chrome.3.69i57j0l3.11495j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

So will the Count's new found feline friend play an important role in this story, or will he just roam around keeping him company?
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

PatH

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #75 on: February 13, 2018, 10:16:01 AM »
I can't leave the first bit without commenting on what a nice little bit of theater it is--an almost jewel like little scene.

Mkaren557

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #76 on: February 13, 2018, 11:04:03 AM »
Pat, the beginning of this novel was a writing lesson for me.  Towles starts his novel by showing the reader(theater), not by telling (It was a dark and stormy night).  Former writing teachers, I just learned what you have been telling me all the years.  Without realizing it, by the time the Count entered the hotel, I already knew much about him from the dialogue and had hints of what the book is about. And I was hooked.  I wanted to know more.  Was being forced to stay in a luxury hotel a problem?  Or is it like my bacon fantasy?  When I was a little girl, I used to think what it would be like if I could have all the bacon I want.  I would be in heaven.  But what would happen if the only thing I had to eat was bacon?  More to consider for me.

bellamarie

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #77 on: February 13, 2018, 11:21:30 AM »
PatH., A theater is a perfect word to use.  Just in these first pages I could see myself sitting out in an audience watching this play on stage.

  WARNING!  WARNING! WARNING! there could be spoilers in this link.

As Towles states in his inteview:

http://www.amortowles.com/gentleman-moscow-amor-towles/gentleman-moscow-qa-amor-towles/

I hope to create a work of art that, while being satisfyingly cohesive, contains such a richness of images, ideas, and personalities that it can prompt varied responses from reader to reader, and from reading to reading.

In essence, I want to gather together a pile of brightly colored shards of glass. But rather than assemble these shards into a mosaic with a fixed image, I want to drop them into the bottom of a kaleidoscope where, thanks to a glint of sunlight and the interplay of mirrors, they render an intricate beauty which the reader can reconfigure by the slightest turn of the wrist.


Not only does the Count capture my interest, but Mr. Towles the author has truly captured my interest with the descriptive words he uses to show the reader his thoughts as he wrote the book, and how he wanted to give us such a rich picture of everything including the Count's memory of his childhood, places he has visited and what brings him joy, such as a coffee in a cafe, over listening in on a couple of young ladies conversations.  Just brilliant writing!!
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

Mkaren557

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #78 on: February 13, 2018, 12:37:42 PM »
I agree the writing is brilliant, Bellamarie.  I was going to suggest that as we come to a sentence or a phrase that we love, that we share it.  It will be fun to look at  these "shards" that  form the novel.  For instance as the Count walks across the square to the hotel, the narrator describes the cupolas of St. Basils:  Their pinks, greens, and golds shimmered as if it were the sole purpose of a religion to cheer its Divinity..  Page numbers are hard because we are all using different forms of the novel.  I have a hardcover and the quotation is onpagr 9.

BarbStAubrey

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Re: A Gentleman in Moscow~Amor Towles~Winter-Spring Book Club Online~
« Reply #79 on: February 13, 2018, 04:48:44 PM »
The Order of St. Andrew, the highest order of the Russian Federation, "was established in 1698 by Tsar Peter the Great, in honour of Saint Andrew, the first apostle of Jesus and patron saint of Russia. It was bestowed in a single class and was only awarded for the most outstanding civilian or military merit.

Peter learned of the practice of bestowing awards from his travels in the West during the Great Embassy. In the past, service to the Russian state was rewarded with money or large estates. He witnessed first hand the awards ceremonies for England's Order of the Garter and Austria's Order of the Golden Fleece and noticed the loyalty and pride of the awardees. It also saved the state land and money.

..Until its abolition following the Russian Revolution of 1917, just over one thousand awards had been made... The Order of Saint Andrew continued to be awarded by the Russian Imperial House in exile. The first post revolutionary presentation was to HH Prince Georgy Konstantinovich of Russia on attaining his dynastic majority in April 1923...

An order with the same name but with different insignia and statutes was first unofficially re-established by the Orthodox Church of Russia on December 27, 1988. The order was officially re-instated as the highest Russian civilian and military award by Presidential Decree №757 on June 1, 1998. The Order's award criteria were modified by Presidential Decree 1099 of September 7, 2010."