A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

by

Amor Towles

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A Gentleman in Moscow: Book 3, An Alliance Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At 5:45 that evening, the Count makes his nightly rounds at the Boyarsky. The narrator compares the Count to the choreographer at the Bolshoi: overseeing a performance that is precise but gives the appearance of effortlessness, every night of the year.
The Count always appreciated those who master their art (such as Andrey and Emile), and here he becomes his own kind of master as he adapts his skills to waitering.
Themes
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
The Count peers in to check on Emile, who always begins the day as a pessimist, but who throughout the day remembers the joys of cooking, gains a much rosier outlook on life, and is ready to serve his customers by 6:00 P.M. At 5:55, when the Count sees Emile dip a spoon into a bowl of chocolate mousse, he knows it is time to open the doors.
The Count not only knows how to anticipate the needs of his guests, but also how to read the attitudes of his friends. The joy that cooking brings Emile is also what makes that evening so meaningful when he, the Count, and Andrey are able to pull together a difficult dish.
Themes
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
At nine o’clock, the Count surveys the restaurant, pleased with the smoothness of the evening. At that moment, Andrey signals to the Count in distress. There is going to be a private function in the Yellow Room after all, and the guests have asked the Count to serve them specifically.
As the evening progresses, the narrator continues to demonstrate the Count’s skill and ease as a waiter, to the point where Andrey is relying on him to fix urgent matters, and guests request him by name.
Themes
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
The Count goes into the Yellow Room and meets a Soviet official (later introduced as Osip), whom he describes as a man that is “no stranger to brute force,” particularly given the severe scar above his left ear. Osip asks the Count to join him for dinner. He requests a bottle of wine and toasts to the Count, stating all of the Count’s titles. The Count feels that he is at a disadvantage, as he does not know who the man is. Osip asks the Count to make some deductions about him.
Because Osip withholds his name, the narrator introduces him by the scar above his left ear—a detail which will be important later in identifying him as a high-ranking official in the secret police. In this chapter, Osip serves as a kind of counterexample to the Bishop in regard to Bolsheviks and their ideals. He is steadfast to the revolutionary cause, but he also does not shun tradition for its own sake.
Themes
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Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
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The Count surmises that Osip is about forty and became a colonel by the end of World War I. The Count guesses that he is from eastern Georgia, because the bottle of wine that the man has selected is Georgian and it reminds him of home.
As a man attuned to small details and people’s inclinations, the Count is able to surmise Osip’s background in Sherlock Holmes fashion.
Themes
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
Dinner arrives, and Osip serves a portion of roast duck for himself and the Count. Osip starts to rattle off facts about the Count’s life, stating that the Count has an interesting background. After asking about the Count’s incident with the young Hussar officer and the Count’s travels to Paris, Osip wonders why the Count did not join either army during the Revolution. The Count states he swore he would never shoot another Russian after the incident with the officer.
The Count finally reveals the concluding detail of the complex story concerning the princess, the young officer, and the Count’s sister: the Count had not joined either army during the revolution because he had not wanted to shoot another Russian, which fact then led to his imprisonment rather than his execution or exile.
Themes
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
Osip is surprised to hear that the Count thinks of the Bolsheviks as his countrymen, and asks if the Count thinks of them as gentlemen. The Count hedges, saying he believes some of them are gentlemen. Osip picks up on his distinction and asks why the Count does not consider him to be a gentleman. The Count explains that it is due to a number of small gestures: that Osip served himself before his guest, that he speaks with his mouth full, and that he did not introduce himself.
The Count points out a number of small details preventing him from considering Osip a gentleman. The irony, however, is that the Communist Osip would likely never want to be considered a gentleman. Even though the rules of etiquette the Count mentions are thought of as polite, the aristocracy that followed these traditions also caused centuries of political stagnation and oppression in Russia.
Themes
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
Osip finally introduces himself as Osip Ivanovich Glebnikov, former colonel of the Red Army and an officer of the Party. Osip states that his job is keeping track of certain men of interest, but his reasons for wanting to meet the Count are not sinister. He wants the Count to teach him French and English so that he can help with the newly revived diplomatic relations with Britain and France. He also wants to understand the privileged classes in those countries. The Count agrees to help him and instruct him.
Though Osip disagrees with the lifestyle and politics of the aristocracy, this does not leave him so narrow-minded as to completely ignore that the aristocracy has ever existed, in the way that many Bolsheviks have tried to completely erase that history. Instead, he tries to learn about the lives of members of the upper class in other countries—especially for practical reasons.
Themes
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon