A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

by

Amor Towles

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The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov Character Analysis

The Count is the protagonist and titular character of A Gentleman in Moscow. A member of the Russian aristocracy, the Count was raised in an estate in the Nizhny Novgorod province along with his sister Helena. His parents died when he was ten years old, and he was subsequently raised by his grandmother, the Countess. After the October revolution in 1917 and the assassination of the Tsar, many of the Count’s relatives, including his grandmother, left Russia in order to avoid being killed by the Bolsheviks. The Count remains in Russia, however, and moves into the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. Four years later, in 1922, the Count is sentenced to house arrest for life in the Metropol because he had written a poem with revolutionary subtext. At first, the Count finds it difficult to live in such a constricted space, particularly as he watches the Bolsheviks attempt to erase every vestige of the aristocratic way of life. After four years, he attempts to jump off of the hotel roof, but fortunately is prevented from doing so. The Count then decides to take more control of his life by taking a job in one of the hotel’s restaurants. Along his journey to achieving a life of purpose in the hotel, he gains several friends who allow him to adapt to his imprisonment and the changing times, making him feel more free and giving him a sense of family and purpose. Nina, a young girl who lives in the Metropol, spends her days exploring the hotel with the Count, and he takes on a fatherly role towards her; he also embarks on a long-term relationship with film actress Anna Urbanova. His best friend from school, Mishka, keeps the Count informed about Russian society outside the hotel and becomes like a brother to him. What ultimately provides the Count with the most sense of purpose is raising Nina’s daughter, Sofia, who essentially becomes a daughter to him. Sofia’s chance appearance affirms his worldview, and the view of the novel, that there is an order to the universe and a reason for every accident and coincidental occurrence in one’s life.

The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov Quotes in A Gentleman in Moscow

The A Gentleman in Moscow quotes below are all either spoken by The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov or refer to The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of A Gentleman in Moscow published in 2016.
Prologue Quotes

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.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, 1922, An Ambassador Quotes

From the earliest age, we must learn to say good-bye to friends and family. […] But experience is less likely to teach us how to bid our dearest possessions adieu. And if it were to? We wouldn't welcome the education. For eventually, we come to hold our dearest possessions more closely than we hold our friends.

Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

Thus did the typewriters clack through the night, until that historic document had been crafted which guaranteed for all Russians freedom of conscience (Article 13), freedom of expression (Article 14), freedom of assembly (Article 15), and freedom to have any of these rights revoked should they be “utilized to the detriment of the socialist revolution” (Article 23)!

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

In the seventeen years since the making of that peace—hardly a generation—Russia had suffered a world war, a civil war, two famines, and the so-called Red Terror. In short, it had been through an era of upheaval that had spared none. Whether one’s leanings were left or right, Red or White, whether one’s personal circumstances had changed for the better or changed for the worse, surely at long last it was time to drink to the health of the nation.

Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

And when the Count's parents succumbed to cholera within hours of each other in 1900, it was the Grand Duke who took the young Count aside and explained that he must be strong for his sister’s sake; that adversity presents itself in many forms; and that if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.

Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, An Appointment Quotes

Ever since its opening in 1905, the hotel’s suites and restaurants had been a gathering spot for the glamorous, influential, and erudite; but the effortless elegance on display would not have existed without the services of the lower floor.

Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

And when that celestial chime sounds, perhaps a mirror will suddenly serve its truer purpose—revealing to a man not who he imagines himself to be, but who he has become.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, An Acquaintanceship Quotes

If he continued along this course, it would not take long for the ceiling to edge downward, the walls to edge inward, and the floor to edge upward, until the entire hotel had been collapsed into the size of a biscuit tin.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Around and About Quotes

For however decisive the Bolsheviks’ victory had been over the privileged classes on behalf of the Proletariat, they would be having banquets soon enough.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

For if a room that exists under the governance, authority, and intent of others seems smaller than it is, then a room that exists in secret can, regardless of its dimensions, seem as vast as one cares to imagine.

Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Advent Quotes

I should note that despite the brief appearance of the round-faced fellow with a receding hairline a chapter hence, he is someone you should commit to memory, for years later he will have great bearing on the outcome of this tale.

Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, 1924, Anonymity Quotes

Yes, a bottle of wine was the ultimate distillation of time and place; a poetic expression of individuality itself. Yet here it was, cast back into the sea of anonymity, that realm of averages and unknowns.

Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

Because the Bolsheviks, who were so intent upon recasting the future from a mold of their own making, would not rest until every last vestige of his Russia had been uprooted, shattered, or erased.

Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, 1926, Adieu Quotes

And he believed, most especially, in the reshaping of destinies by the slightest change in the thermometer.

Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3, Arachne’s Art Quotes

With the slightest turn of the wrist the shards of glass tumble into a new arrangement. The blue cap of the bellhop is handed from one boy to the next, a dress as yellow as a canary is stowed in a trunk, a little red guidebook is updated with the new names of streets, and through Emile’s swinging door walks Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov—with the white dinner jacket of the Boyarsky draped across his arm.

Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3, Antics, Antitheses, an Accident Quotes

Our churches, known the world over for their idiosyncratic beauty, for their brightly colored spires and improbable cupolas, we raze one by one. We topple the statues of old heroes and strip their names from the streets, as if they had been figments of our imagination. Our poets we either silence, or wait patiently for them to silence themselves.

Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:

“Who would have imagined,” he said, “when you were sentenced to life in the Metropol all those years ago, that you had just become the luckiest man in all of Russia.”

Page Number: 292
Explanation and Analysis:

In 1916, Russia was a barbarian state. It was the most illiterate nation in Europe, with the majority of its population living in modified serfdom: tilling the fields with wooden plows, beating their wives by candlelight, collapsing on their benches drunk with vodka, and then waking at dawn to humble themselves before their icons. That is, living exactly as their forefathers had lived five hundred years before. Is it not possible that our reverence for all the statues and cathedrals and ancient institutions was precisely what was holding us back?

Page Number: 297
Explanation and Analysis:

In the end, a parent's responsibility could not be more simple: To bring a child safely into adulthood so that she could have a chance to experience a life of purpose and, God willing, contentment.

Page Number: 309
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 4, 1950, Adagio, Andante, Allegro Quotes

The pace of evolution was not something to be frightened by. For while nature doesn't have a stake in whether the wings of a peppered moth are black or white, it genuinely hopes that the peppered moth will persist.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Related Symbols: The Moths of Manchester
Page Number: 336
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Anecdotes Quotes

Looking back, it seems to me that there are people who play an essential role at every turn […] as if Life itself has summoned them once again to help fulfill its purpose. Well, since the day I was born, Sofia, there was only one time when Life needed me to be in a particular place at a particular time, and that was when your mother brought you to the lobby of the Metropol.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov (speaker), Nina Kulikova, Sofia
Page Number: 420-421
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Antagonists at Arms (And an Absolution) Quotes

“Your sort,” he sneered. “How convinced you have always been of

the rightness of your actions. As if God Himself was so impressed with your precious manners and delightful way of putting things that He blessed you to do as you pleased. What vanity.”

Related Characters: The Bishop (speaker), The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Page Number: 433
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Apotheosis Quotes

It was, without question, the smallest room that he had occupied in his life; yet somehow, within those four walls the world had come and gone.

Page Number: 439
Explanation and Analysis:

At that moment, it somehow seemed to the Count that no one was out of place; that every little thing happening was part of some master plan; and that within the context of that plan, he was meant to sit in the chair between the potted palms and wait.

Page Number: 439
Explanation and Analysis:
Afterword, And Anon Quotes

And there in the corner, at a table for two, her hair tinged with gray, the willowy woman waited.

Page Number: 462
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov Character Timeline in A Gentleman in Moscow

The timeline below shows where the character The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov appears in A Gentleman in Moscow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
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...begins with the first nineteen lines of “Where Is It Now?”—a 1913 poem attributed to Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov. The poem’s central question asks, “where is our purpose now?”, describing how... (full context)
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The novel then shifts to a transcript format. The date is June 21, 1922. The Count is on trial in front of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, which conducts police... (full context)
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The prosecutor asks the Count about his upbringing and his current living situation. The Count explains that he has lived... (full context)
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The prosecutor explains to the gallery that the Count had left Russia for Paris in the spring of 1913, but then had returned in... (full context)
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One of the Secretaries presiding over the trial scolds the Count for not taking the proceedings seriously. He states that many in the gallery might find... (full context)
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The Committee takes a short recess, and upon returning they give the Count’s sentence. They believe that the Count has obviously become loyal to the nobility once again.... (full context)
Book 1, 1922, An Ambassador
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The novel’s style shifts to prose. The Count is escorted back to the Metropol Hotel by two Soviet soldiers. As the Count waves... (full context)
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The Count is escorted to his new room on the sixth floor in the attic, which was... (full context)
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The Count points at what he wants to keep: two chairs, his grandmother’s coffee table, a set... (full context)
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The Count looks out the window of his old suite, thinking about the experiences he will miss:... (full context)
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The Count then takes an inventory of everything he will be leaving behind. His possessions at the... (full context)
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The Count remembers the journey that brought him to the Metropol. In 1918, when the former Tsar... (full context)
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The Count and his grandmother (who had raised him since he was ten) parted without shedding a... (full context)
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After his grandmother left, the Count had loaded up a single wagon with their furniture, bolted the doors of the estate,... (full context)
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The Count returns to the attic and marvels at how in his youth he had loved the... (full context)
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The Count unpacks a few more things, including his father’s twice-tolling clock and his grandmother’s opera glasses.... (full context)
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The Count hears someone clear his throat in the hallway. He opens his door and finds Andrey... (full context)
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The Count, Andrey, Vasily, and Marina then have a night of good cheer and conversation. He is... (full context)
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At ten o’clock, the Count says goodnight to Andrey, Vasily, and Marina. He sits at his desk, which had been... (full context)
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The Count runs his hands over the desk, and finds a secret catch behind one of the... (full context)
Book 1, An Anglican Ashore
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The next morning, before the Count truly wakes up, he thinks about the day to come. Normally, he would buy the... (full context)
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A young hotel worker delivers the Count’s breakfast. As the boy leaves, the Count asks him to deliver a letter to a... (full context)
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The Count surveys the other rooms on the attic level, most of which are blocked from the... (full context)
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The Count keeps a single book in his room: the essays of Michel de Montaigne, which he... (full context)
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...narrator explains that reading in a tilted chair had long been a habit of the Count’s; in his youth, he and Helena would spend many days together in which he would... (full context)
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There is another knock at the door. The man to whom the Count had penned the letter earlier, Konstantin Konstantinovich, enters. The Count reintroduces himself to Konstantinovich and... (full context)
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The Count and Konstantinovich strike up an arrangement, and Konstantinovich agrees to deliver three notes for the... (full context)
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As Andrey goes to ask Emile about the nettle, the Count reflects how the Boyarsky could not run without Andrey. Andrey seems to be always a... (full context)
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Andrey and Emile return, and Emile sarcastically congratulates the Count on correctly guessing that there is nettle in the dish. The Count smiles in satisfaction... (full context)
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The Count thinks about how to master his circumstances while living a life of confinement. He finds... (full context)
Book 1, An Appointment
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The next day, the Count tries again with Montaigne’s essays. He begins at ten o’clock, but quickly finds his attention... (full context)
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As the Count descends the stairs, the narrator remarks that if the progress of Russian culture can be... (full context)
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The Count arrives at his “religiously kept appointment” at the barber’s. The Count greets the barber and... (full context)
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The barber tries to apologize, but the Count says that he should have let the customer go ahead of him. He surveys himself... (full context)
Book 1, An Acquaintanceship
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The narrator introduces the second restaurant in the Metropol, which the Count affectionately calls the Piazza. The Piazza does not aspire to “elegance, service, or subtlety” like... (full context)
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A few days after the barbershop mishap, the Count is being served in the Piazza by a new waiter. The Count refers to this... (full context)
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As the Count waits for his food and wine, he thinks to himself how his morale could use... (full context)
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The Count then notices a young girl in a yellow dress (who is later introduced as Nina)... (full context)
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Nina questions the Count about his life as a count, and whether he has known any princesses. She questions... (full context)
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The Count becomes more engaged with Nina, telling her a story about how a duel had begun... (full context)
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Nina interrupts the Count’s story, that Lensky was killed by Onegin in a duel. He finds it amusing that... (full context)
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Later that night, the Count sits alone at the hotel bar. He has had several drinks, to the point where... (full context)
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As Audrius helps the Count back to his room, the Count drunkenly tells him that when dueling was first taken... (full context)
Book 1, Anyway…
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Five days later, Nina invites the Count for afternoon tea. As soon as the tea is poured, Nina begins to talk about... (full context)
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The Count describes some of the things expected of princesses: table manners, posture, respecting the elders of... (full context)
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The Count holds out the tea cakes for Nina, and she takes two. He tells her that... (full context)
Book 1, Around and About
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On July 12, Nina catches the Count’s eye on the way to dinner, giving him a signal that they have established. She... (full context)
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The Count stopped going to the hotel bar after having to be dragged up the steps by... (full context)
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The Count catches Nina and asks where she is headed. She reluctantly tells him the card room.... (full context)
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Thus begins the Count’s education on the inner workings of the hotel. He has lived in the Metropol for... (full context)
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To initiate the Count’s explorations, Nina starts in the basement. She shows him the furnace room—where one could destroy... (full context)
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Nina and the Count opens the door to reveal the hotel’s silver service. From floor to ceiling are soup... (full context)
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In the following days, Nina leads the Count from room to room, including the hotel suites, as each room has a different view.... (full context)
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Later that night, the Count thinks about his visit to his old room. He had noticed the tea service on... (full context)
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The Count rises from his bed and examines the closet, wondering if it had been built in... (full context)
Book 1, An Assembly
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Nina is convincing the Count to join her on one of her favorite excursions: spying from the balcony of the... (full context)
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As they watch the Bolshevik Assembly begin, the Count thinks to himself how the social cues of the Bolsheviks are not unlike those of... (full context)
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When the Assembly concludes, Nina and the Count crawl off the balcony. The Count is pleased to discover so many parallels between his... (full context)
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The Count then pays a visit to Marina, the hotel seamstress, in order to repair his pants.... (full context)
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When the Count leaves Marina’s office with his pants intact, a bellhop stops him and tells him that... (full context)
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The Count arrives at Halecki’s office, unsure what the manager wants with him. The Count praises the... (full context)
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When Halecki is called away by a staff member, the Count turns once more to the hunting scenes. He acknowledges that the engraving depicts a scene... (full context)
Book 1, Archaeologies
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The Count is once again in the hotel bar, performing a magic trick for three of the... (full context)
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Arkady takes the Count to the lobby and points out the gentleman. The Count immediately recognizes Mikhail Fyodorovich Mindich... (full context)
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The Count and Mishka (the Count’s nickname for Mikhail) retreat to the Count’s new room. Mishka notes... (full context)
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Mishka thinks back to the summers when he would go to visit the Count’s family estate. The Countess enjoyed Mishka’s and the Count’s discourse questioning the standing of the... (full context)
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Mishka picks up a photo on the Count’s bookcase, which contains a picture of the Grand Duke when he signed the treaty that... (full context)
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Later in the evening, Mishka tells the Count about the upcoming congress of RAPP, the Russian Association of Proletarian writers. Mishka conveys his... (full context)
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The Count is glad to hear Mishka speak so passionately, because he always worried that Mishka was... (full context)
Book 1, Advent
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In late December, the Count notices a draft coming from an unattended coatroom as he walks to dinner. Overcome with... (full context)
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The Count contrasts this memory with the memory of his return from Paris in 1918, when he... (full context)
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The Count goes to the Piazza, and is a bit disappointed to find it undecorated for Christmas.... (full context)
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The Count tells Nina that school will broaden her horizons; Nina counters by saying that travel would... (full context)
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The Count moves on to say how fortunate he feels to have become Nina’s friend. He gives... (full context)
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After Nina leaves the Piazza, the Count notices a young couple at a table nearby who seem to be on a first... (full context)
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...When the man struggles with choosing a wine, the Bishop suggests a wine that the Count knows is both too expensive and will clash with the dinner they have selected. He... (full context)
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The Count returns to the lobby, noticing a set of musicians. He recognizes one of them as... (full context)
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...the Prince is a relatively unimportant character and will not keep the appointment with the Count. Instead, on Saturday his room will be searched, and a picture of the Tsar will... (full context)
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The Count returns to his room, and, noting that it is only eleven o’clock, he decides to... (full context)
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 When the clock chimes midnight, the Count sets his book aside and opens Nina’s gift. Inside lies a smaller box, then another... (full context)
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The Count returns to A Christmas Carol, reaching the part where Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas... (full context)
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The narrator warns, however, that had the Count looked into his future, he would have seen that less than four years later, the... (full context)
Book 2, 1923, An Actress, an Apparition, an Apiary
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At five o’clock on June 21st, 1923, one year since the Count’s imprisonment, the Count ponders how to celebrate the anniversary. He thinks about men in prison... (full context)
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Upon reaching the lobby, the Count notices a willowy figure (later introduced as Anna Urbanova) coming through the hotel doors. She... (full context)
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...across the floor into another guest. After watching this chaos for a few moments, the Count whistles and the dogs heel at his feet. (full context)
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Anna thanks the Count, apologizing that the dogs are not well-behaved. The Count contradicts her, saying that it is... (full context)
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One hour later, the Count sits in the hotel bar waiting for Mishka when he notices Anna once again, sitting... (full context)
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...bar, but explains that he can only stay for a drink, not for dinner. The Count is disappointed, but understands that Mishka is here on important business with the Russian Association... (full context)
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...writer, whom Mishka disliked, had proclaimed that all poets must bow before the haiku. The Count jokes that he is glad Homer wasn’t born in Japan. (full context)
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Mishka laughs and says that he will have to tell the Count’s joke to Katerina—another young poet from Kiev. The Count notes that Mishka has been dressing... (full context)
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Half an hour later, Mishka leaves the bar. As the Count gets up, Audrius beckons him and gives him a note from Anna Urbanova, who he... (full context)
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The Count arrives at suite 208 and is let in by an older woman, who then steps... (full context)
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...dinner to find one of Emile’s signature dishes: whole bass roasted with olives. Before the Count can serve her, Anna quickly debones the fish and prepares two perfect plates. The Count... (full context)
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The Count speaks a bit about his own childhood. The province in which he grew up, Nizhny... (full context)
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The Count is both bewildered and excited by being seduced in this way, as he did not... (full context)
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The Count closes the curtains, hangs Anna’s blouse in the closet, and shuts the door softly behind... (full context)
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Just before the Count opens the door to his rooms, he feels a slight summer breeze. Intrigued, he walks... (full context)
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One of the hotel handymen, Abram, greets the Count, startling him. Abram makes him coffee and shows him his apiary. The bees are hard... (full context)
Book 2, Addendum
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Anna had watched with satisfaction as the Count hung her blouse in the closet, but on her trip back to St. Petersburg, it... (full context)
Book 2, 1924, Anonymity
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...as a curse. The narrator states that Anna cast just such a curse on the Count after their date in 1923. In the weeks that follow, the Count notices that he... (full context)
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The Count asks Vasily where Nina is. He responds that she is in the card room, and... (full context)
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The Count begins to help Nina, looking over her list. He points out that 1,173 is not... (full context)
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The Count leaves Nina to her work and decides to read the paper before his dinner with... (full context)
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The Count tosses the paper aside and looks at the clock, seeing that Mishka is now fifteen... (full context)
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Arkady passes the Count in the lobby before realizing that he has a message for the Count from Mishka:... (full context)
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The Count goes to the Boyarsky alone and finds he must wait a few minutes for his... (full context)
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The Count asks Andrey if the man with the beard is that same Commissar who had been... (full context)
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The narrator explains that the Count has been a master of seating tables since he was fifteen. He used to help... (full context)
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After waiting a few minutes, the Count sits at his table and selects the osso buco (a cut of meat) for the... (full context)
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When the Count tries to specify that his wine selection is a red wine, the Bishop explains that... (full context)
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When the Count tries to explain his trouble with ordering wine, Andrey brings the Count down to the... (full context)
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The Count asks who filed the complaint, and Andrey states that it may have originated with the... (full context)
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...way of life is obsolete. But political turmoil can cause an abrupt evolution, and the Count is struck by the realization that the Bolsheviks will not rest until every vestige of... (full context)
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Just as the Count turns to leave, he takes one more moment to search among the bottles. He systematically... (full context)
Book 2, 1926, Adieu
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Standing at his old window in suite 317, the Count thinks to himself that one must eventually choose a philosophy that helps one make sense... (full context)
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The Count gives an example as he looks out his window: only three weeks before, the square... (full context)
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The Count gives a final example. When he and his friends had been invited to the birthday... (full context)
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When the Count and his friend entered the dining room, they discovered that the Count had been placed... (full context)
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...the ballroom, the officer held out his hand for the princess. At that moment, the Count’s friend reappeared, and said that due to his fall, he’d rather play a game of... (full context)
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After two hours, the officer had lost one thousand rubles to the Count. The Count graciously decided to tear up his marker and call it even in the... (full context)
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The Count sums up the events, saying that if the roast had not been perfect, the Count’s... (full context)
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The residents of suite 317 interrupt the Count’s musings at the window, asking who he is. He quickly lies that he is from... (full context)
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...given up many of her favorite pastimes in exchange for books and professors. When the Count finds her in the ballroom, she and a boy named Boris are testing Newton’s calculation... (full context)
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At ten o’clock, the Count is finishing dinner and a bottle of White at the Boyarsky. That morning, he had... (full context)
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The Count takes comfort that everything is in order, and also that the world will continue without... (full context)
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The Count remembers the first night of his house arrest, when he had thought about the Grand... (full context)
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The Count goes to the Shalyapin for a final glass of brandy. As he drinks, he overhears... (full context)
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The Count steps in, taking up the challenge. He issues his own challenge: that for each contribution... (full context)
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The second contribution, the Count continues, is act one, scene one of The Nutcracker. He argues that Tchaikovsky captures Christmas... (full context)
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For the third contribution, the Count simply gestures to a waiter that has appeared with a silver platter (conjured via a... (full context)
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The Brit is impressed at the magical conjuration of the food, and asks who the Count is. The Count introduces himself, and the Brit introduces himself in turn as Charles Abernathy,... (full context)
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Charles is curious about the Count’s “circumstances” in Paris, and the Count retells the story of the Princess Novobaczky’s twenty-first birthday.... (full context)
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The Count waited, hoping that the officer would slip up and reveal his true nature. On Helena’s... (full context)
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The Count had then taken up a pistol from the wall and followed the officer outside. The... (full context)
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The Count concludes his story: after he injured the officer, he was sent to Paris by his... (full context)
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Later, shortly before midnight, the Count climbs to the roof. He looks out on the city for a final time. He... (full context)
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The Count takes out the Châteauneuf-du-Pape and pours a glass. He raises it to Helena and drinks.... (full context)
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At nearly two in the morning, the Count says goodnight to Abram and returns to his bedroom. He takes the gold coin from... (full context)
Book 3, 1930
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Six years after the Count’s failed suicide attempt, he climbs from his bed and makes himself a cup of coffee.... (full context)
Book 3, Arachne’s Art
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...restaurant spinning, prompt as ever. But there is one addition to the Boyarksy’s staff: the Count, who has worked his way up to head waiter. (full context)
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Emile, Andrey, and the Count, whom the narrator calls “the Triumvirate,” gather for their daily meeting. On this day, there... (full context)
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...in with the special for the evening: a cucumber soup and rack of lamb. The Count tries the dish and notes the addition of mint. Andrey asks what he might recommend... (full context)
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Before they adjourn, the Count presents one more matter: the envelope that had been slipped under his door, which is... (full context)
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The Count leaves the Boyarsky in a good mood due to several factors: the increase in temperature... (full context)
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The Count stops reading after the first page, deeply moved, particularly because he can see how Mishka... (full context)
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The Count picks up the letter again but is interrupted by three youths leaving the Piazza, who... (full context)
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The Count realizes that the young woman is Nina (due to her lack of thanks). He is... (full context)
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The Count pays a visit to Marina to fix a button on his jacket. He insists on... (full context)
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As the Count sews, he mentions to Marina that he ran into Nina. He tells Marina that Nina... (full context)
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The Count then realizes the time: 4:05pm. The Count quickly dashes through the lobby and vaults up... (full context)
Book 3, An Afternoon Assignation
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The narrator exclaims in false wonder how the twisting paths of Anna and the Count could have led them back into each other’s arms. The narrator goes on to say... (full context)
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The narrator goes back to 1923, the first time the Count met Anna. She had been an unambiguous celebrity, starring in two historical romances directed by... (full context)
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The Count had then seen Anna a second time, in November 1928, eight months after she lost... (full context)
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Disappointed, Anna turned from the door and instantly saw the Count. She invited him back to her room, number 428—a modest room with a small bedroom... (full context)
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...options. One can either hide all evidence that one’s circumstances have changed; or, like the Count and Anna, one can join the “Confederacy of the Humbled.” The Count then asked Anna... (full context)
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...her room on the fourth floor, change into a simple dress, and wait for the Count. (full context)
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At 4:45 in the afternoon, the Count traces the constellations on Anna’s back. He points out one that looks like Delphinus, the... (full context)
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The Count asks Anna to tell a tale of the sea. She admits that she doesn’t know... (full context)
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...sail in a ship with a bag of gold for every sack of salt. The Count tells Anna that her story is a good one, but that it does not absolve... (full context)
Book 3, An Alliance
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At 5:45 that evening, the Count makes his nightly rounds at the Boyarsky. The narrator compares the Count to the choreographer... (full context)
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The Count peers in to check on Emile, who always begins the day as a pessimist, but... (full context)
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At nine o’clock, the Count surveys the restaurant, pleased with the smoothness of the evening. At that moment, Andrey signals... (full context)
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The Count goes into the Yellow Room and meets a Soviet official (later introduced as Osip), whom... (full context)
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The Count surmises that Osip is about forty and became a colonel by the end of World... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Osip is surprised to hear that the Count thinks of the Bolsheviks as his countrymen, and asks if the Count thinks of them... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Book 3, Absinthe
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That same night, the Count heads to the Shalyapin at 12:15 A.M. and is amazed at the sound of “gay... (full context)
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The Count approaches Audrius at the bar and asks for absinthe. He takes his drink upstairs to... (full context)
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On the way to the Boyarsky, the Count is stopped by the Bishop, who asks where the Count is going. The Count says... (full context)
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The Count arrives in the kitchen, absinthe in hand. A few moments later, as Emile prepares, Andrey... (full context)
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At one in the morning, the Count, Emile, and Andrey enjoy the fruits of their labors: three bowls of bouillabaisse (a decadent... (full context)
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At 3:30 in the morning, the Count stumbles back to his room. He thinks about the day he has had, and how... (full context)
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The following morning, the Count goes to finish Mishka’s letter, but cannot find it in his pocket. He thinks that... (full context)
Book 3, Addendum
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The same morning that the Count looks for Mishka’s letter, Nina and her comrades board a train headed for Ivanovo in... (full context)
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Sofia asks the Count if he is awake. He responds that he is awake now. She tells him that... (full context)
Book 3, 1938, An Arrival
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The Count sees these skirts as a sign that spring is ending, and he says this to... (full context)
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The Count and Nina cross the lobby to where Sofia is sitting. Nina introduces Sofia to the... (full context)
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The Count begins to consider the scope of what he has agreed to in taking care of... (full context)
Book 3, Adjustments
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The next morning, the Count is unsettled by the fact that Sofia is so quiet for such a young child.... (full context)
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The Count gives Sofia a book with pictures to entertain her while he shaves and reflects on... (full context)
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When the clock strikes noon, the Count suggests that he and Sofia get lunch, but Sofia is staring at the clock with... (full context)
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The Count and Sofia go to the Piazza, where she is amazed by the size of the... (full context)
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The waiter serves the Count and Sofia their lunch, but he lingers and asks if he should cut Sofia’s meat... (full context)
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The Count takes Sofia to the ladies’ room and is relieved when she says she does not... (full context)
Book 3, Ascending, Alighting
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At two o’clock, the Count and Sofia pay a visit to Marina, who is surprised to see him with a... (full context)
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The Count rushes off to the Boyarsky meeting, trying to think up a long-term solution regarding who... (full context)
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The Count prepares the seating for the dinner. When he finishes, he realizes that it is already... (full context)
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The Count then takes the suitcases to the laundry room, packing sheets, a bedcover, a towel, and... (full context)
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The Count returns to Marina’s office, discovering that Sofia and Marina have spent the time sewing a... (full context)
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The Count takes Sofia back to the attic, showing her the secret room for the first time.... (full context)
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Sofia tells the Count that it is her turn to hide the thimble. As he goes out of the... (full context)
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At six o’clock, the Count returns to the Boyarsky. He oversees the dinner in the Red Room and then heads... (full context)
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For this meeting, the Count had told Osip to read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. But as Osip starts... (full context)
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At eleven o’clock the Count starts to run back to Marina’s office to pick up Sofia. At the top of... (full context)
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The Count tells Mishka that he is in the right to do what he did—that it is... (full context)
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The Count picks Sofia up at 11:40. Despite the late hour, Sofia had insisted on staying up.... (full context)
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The Count then prepares for bed as quickly as Sofia had, exhausted from the long day. But... (full context)
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The narrator tells the reader that the Count had good reason to be worried about Mishka. The next morning, Mishka passes a statue... (full context)
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The narrator states that the Count is also probably right to worry about Nina, for she will never return to the... (full context)
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The Count is also right to worry about Sofia’s presence being noted. The narrator reveals that within... (full context)
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But, the narrator reassures the reader that the Count does not have to worry about entertaining Sofia in the morning, as she continues to... (full context)
Book 3, Antics, Antitheses, an Accident
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At 1:30, the Count is sitting in the manager’s office, which is now the Bishop’s office. He is unsure... (full context)
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The narration flashes back to that morning. The Count had eaten breakfast, bathed, shaved, and dressed before departing for the lobby. As he descended... (full context)
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...sight. The general’s aide-de-camp (later introduced as Richard Vanderwhile), who was standing next to the Count, commented on how much he loves the hotel. (full context)
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So, indeed, the Count is aware of the events of the morning. But he is still unsure why the... (full context)
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As the Count leaves, he is rankled by the Bishop’s implication that Sofia was involved. Even though she... (full context)
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As the Count climbs the stairs back to his room, he thinks that it is true that Sofia... (full context)
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The Count arrives in his room and Sofia, who had been in the lobby just moments before,... (full context)
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The Count then goes to his daily meeting in the Boyarsky with Andrey and Emile, who agree... (full context)
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...not a beggar because he did not ask for food; he instead asked for the Count. The Count realizes that the man is Mishka, and immediately goes to greet him. (full context)
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Andrey suggests that Mishka and the Count catch up in Emile’s office. Emile places bread and salt on the table (an old... (full context)
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...other prisoners, though he seems plagued by his time in labor camps. He tells the Count that one night, after returning to the barracks, he thought about the German who claimed... (full context)
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Mishka goes on to tell the Count that Russians are unusually adept at destroying what they have created, citing the churches being... (full context)
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Mishka sees that he has unsettled the Count, and tells the Count why he has returned to the city. He wants to visit... (full context)
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At 7:30 that evening, the Count meets with Osip, who notices quickly that something is off with the Count. The Count... (full context)
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And so on this evening, Osip and the Count watch The Maltese Falcon again. As they watch, the Count asks if Osip thinks Russians... (full context)
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The Count wonders at what cost progress must come. Osip states that it comes at the greatest... (full context)
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When the Count and Osip say goodnight, the Count returns to the Shalyapin, where the American general’s aide-de-camp,... (full context)
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The Count gets a drink, but to his surprise, also sees Richard at the bar. When the... (full context)
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The Count explains Mishka’s lament of Russia’s disappearing history, and Osip’s argument that brushing the past aside... (full context)
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The Count leaves the bar after two more drinks with Richard and sees Sofia reading in the... (full context)
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After five minutes, the Count concedes that she may not have been trying to play. At that moment, however, the... (full context)
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The Count carries Sofia down the steps and runs through the lobby and out the front door... (full context)
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...brought in a young physician who looks as if he has just woken up. The Count asks if the doctor is able to perform the surgery, and the doctor is furious... (full context)
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...He introduces himself as Lazovsky, chief of Surgery at First Municipal, and asks for the Count. As the Count explains what happened to Sofia, another young doctor appears. Lazovsky tries to... (full context)
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The Count sits on a bench just outside the surgery and prays. He wonders how he could... (full context)
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When the surgery is finished, Lazovsky joins the Count outside. He tells the Count that Sofia has suffered a concussion and that she needs... (full context)
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The Count is confused why Osip is there, and Osip reiterates that it is his job to... (full context)
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Osip leads the Count to the back of the hospital, saying as they part that it is best if... (full context)
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As the Count leaves the hospital, in the alley he sees a white van with the words “Red... (full context)
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Back in the attic, the Count sobs with relief. He feels like he is the luckiest man in all of Russia.... (full context)
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The Count opens the case, revealing a portable phonograph and a small stack of records. The first... (full context)
Book 4, 1950, Adagio, Andante, Allegro
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Vasily and the Count are chatting about how much Sofia has grown, and the Count thinks that her growth... (full context)
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The Count also thinks about the paradox that in adulthood, one experiences time so quickly that many... (full context)
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The Count then asks Vasily where Sofia is. Vasily says that she is in the ballroom with... (full context)
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Stepanovich says that there must be some mistake, and Sofia explains to the Count that Stepanovich is teaching her how to play the piano. She plays the Count a... (full context)
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When Sofia finishes, the Count asks her why she didn’t tell him she was learning piano. She explains that she... (full context)
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The Count asks Sofia how she conveys so much heartache in her playing; Sofia tells him that... (full context)
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The Count explains that the restaurant has never been defined by its furnishing or architecture, but instead... (full context)
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That evening, the Count gets a drink with Richard and explains how Sofia came to learn piano. She had... (full context)
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...embassy, but he stops by the Metropol on occasion to get a drink with the Count. They drink to old friends, as they feel that they are kindred spirits even though... (full context)
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...he can’t believe it’s the conductor from the Piazza who is teaching Sofia, but the Count remarks that Stepanovich had actually studied at the Conservatory in Moscow. He only conducts to... (full context)
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...moths of Manchester, an example of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. As a boy, the Count had learned about evolution and it made sense to him, but he was surprised to... (full context)
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The Count’s father had pointed to the moths of Manchester, most of which for thousands of years... (full context)
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This lesson did not sit well with the Count at the time, but years later, he realizes he had been looking at the matter... (full context)
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The Count heads upstairs for bed, and the narrator remarks that even while the Count is brushing... (full context)
Book 4, 1952, America
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On a Wednesday evening in late June, the Count and Sofia walk into the Boyarsky. It is his night off, and they are ushered... (full context)
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The Count and Sofia study their menus and order. They then begin to play a game that... (full context)
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...of white hair where she hit her head). As Sofia counts down the seconds, the Count is interrupted by a professor from Leningrad State University. He asks for the Count to... (full context)
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The Count and Sofia’s first course is served, and they never play while they eat, so they... (full context)
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The second course is served, and the Count states that Emile has outdone himself, once again hoping to change subjects. Sofia says that... (full context)
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As the Count heads for the stairwell, he bumps into Anna. He tells her that he can’t believe... (full context)
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The Count knocks on the door of his old suite, which he has not visited since that... (full context)
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...of the city could either be flung open to the world, or bolted shut. The Count says that they must hope for the former; Richard agrees that they certainly cannot hope... (full context)
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Richard asks the Count if he is willing to keep an eye on political events at the Metropol and... (full context)
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Later in the evening, the Count lies in Anna’s bed, debating what he and Richard had spoken about. The Count says... (full context)
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The Count comments that it sounds like Anna wants to live in America. She counters that everyone... (full context)
Book 4, 1953, Apostles and Apostates
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The Count is pacing in his room for what has seemed an interminable amount of time. Sofia... (full context)
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...the middle of the evening, the Bishop had paid a visit to the Boyarsky. The Count appealed to him, asking if they could abolish the pencil and paper. The Bishop stated... (full context)
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Back in the Count’s study, he starts humming Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 1 in C Major, the piece Sofia... (full context)
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The Count, Anna, and Sofia quickly cut off their celebration when they hear a voice in the... (full context)
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Seeing that it is no use keeping his room a secret, the Count leads Andrey and Emile through the closet to his study. They congratulate Sofia on her... (full context)
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The Count tells everyone to stay silent. He goes back through the closet to his bedroom. Just... (full context)
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The Bishop congratulates the Count on this development, which makes him want to strangle the man. At that moment, Anna... (full context)
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...success revives even more heartily after the Bishop’s visit. Sofia makes a toast to the Count, saying that she has no intention of ever leaving the Metropol. The group decides to... (full context)
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The woman introduces herself as Katerina, Mishka’s old love. The Count leads her back to his study. He assumes that something has happened to Mishka, and... (full context)
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The Count confesses that he is not a fine poet, as it was actually Mishka who had... (full context)
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Katerina gives the Count a package containing Mishka’s project, and then she says that she should go. The Count... (full context)
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The Count then begins to read the book, which turns out to be a compilation of quotes... (full context)
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...with the passage from Chekhov’s letters that Mishka had cut so many years before. The Count understands why Shalamov had wanted to cut the passage, given the hardships of the 1930s,... (full context)
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When the Count closes Mishka’s book, he is lost in thought. But he is thinking of Katerina, and... (full context)
Book 5, 1954, Applause and Acclaim
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...seen Paris prior to the Revolution thought that they would never see it again. The Count enters the kitchen and explains that the All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries... (full context)
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Andrey, Emile, and the Count are wondering whether Paris has changed, when the newest member of their daily meeting, the... (full context)
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When the others leave to complete their tasks for the evening, the Count surreptitiously returns to the reservation book to scan for large events. He notes with particular... (full context)
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That evening, the Count accepts a flute of champagne from Audrius in the Shalyapin as congratulations for Sofia’s tour.... (full context)
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One hour later, Sofia and the Count are dining in the Boyarsky. Instead of playing Zut, the Count opts to tell her... (full context)
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The Count tries to expand the moral to imply that Sofia should not feel nervous at the... (full context)
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The Count then tells another story about the Christmas that he celebrated with Nina in 1922. He... (full context)
Book 5, Achilles Agonistes
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The Count stands at the front desk and writes a one-sentence note, slipping it into the bell... (full context)
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The narrator interjects that when the Count was a young man, he prided himself on being unmoved by the clock. He enjoyed... (full context)
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However, after Sofia had been chosen for the tour, the Count becomes more acutely aware of time. He has six months until her departure, and there... (full context)
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And now, alone in the barber shop, the Count opens the glass cabinet, surveying the various soaps and oils inside. In the back of... (full context)
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Back in his room, the Count puts the bottle in the back of his desk. Using the razor, he takes the... (full context)
Book 5, Arrivederci
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One evening in early May, the Count is sitting in the lobby when he spies a young Italian couple exit the hotel.... (full context)
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At eleven o’clock that evening, the Count reviews his checklist over a glass of brandy in the bar. Nearly everything he needs... (full context)
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Shortly after midnight, Webster returns to his room on the fourth floor—only to find the Count sitting in his chair. The man is confused at first, until the Count clarifies that... (full context)
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The Count walks down the fourth-floor hall and spies room 428 again. He knocks, and when no... (full context)
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Suddenly the Count hears a key in the door. He jumps into the closet and quietly closes the... (full context)
Book 5, Adulthood
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The Count and Anna sit in the actress’s suite, waiting for the big reveal. Marina opens the... (full context)
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The Count and Anna compliment Sofia on how beautiful she looks. Sofia spins in delight, and the... (full context)
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Anna and the Count walk down the hallway after the fitting. Anna asks the Count why he is being... (full context)
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Later, the Count, Emile, Andrey, and the Bishop all sit in the Bishop’s office. The Boyarsky’s daily meeting... (full context)
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...the Council of Ministers. Andrey assures him that everything is in order and that the Count will be overseeing the dinner while he remains at the Boyarsky. The Bishop then switches... (full context)
Book 5, An Announcement
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On June 11, the evening of the event, the Count stands in suite 417 and ensures that all of the place settings are in order.... (full context)
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Comrade Propp had been relieved to hear that the Count was overseeing the dinner. While he did not know the Count’s background as a former... (full context)
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The Count was pleased to hear there was no seating arrangement, because the tables were arranged in... (full context)
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...Khrushchev. Over the next two hours, the men eat, drink, and raise toasts. Meanwhile, the Count, attentive as ever, overhears every private exchange made at the dinner. (full context)
Book 5, Anecdotes
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On June 16, the Count lays out everything Sofia needs beside her knapsack and suitcase. The night before, he had... (full context)
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The Count then leads Sofia into the study, where he has prepared a candlelit dinner of a... (full context)
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The Count then restricts himself to giving two pieces of advice: that if one does not master... (full context)
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Sofia exclaims at the grandeur of the young Count’s moustache. When she asks what happened to it, the Count recalls the incident in the... (full context)
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Sofia asks the Count if he regrets coming back to Russia after the Revolution. He responds that life has... (full context)
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...the topic of famous threesomes. The game goes on for a long time, until the Count admits defeat when Sofia comes up with Andrey, Emile, and Alexander (the Count). (full context)
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...hotel staff has come to see her off, wishing her well in Paris. Finally, the Count embraces Sofia, and she walks through the doors of the Metropol. (full context)
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The Count returns to his bedroom, which he already feels is too quiet. He drinks a glass... (full context)
Book 5, An Association
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The Count and Osip watch Casablanca together. Over the last several years, they have met less and... (full context)
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...twenty minutes, Osip admits that this may be Bogart at his best. But as the Count watches the character of Rick think of his days in Paris with Ilsa, the Count... (full context)
Book 5, Antagonists at Arms (And an Absolution)
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On June 20, the Count is in the Boyarsky, serving a Finnish couple. As they order, he asks for their... (full context)
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Shortly after midnight, the Count goes to suite 322, setting his shoes by the door so as not to make... (full context)
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When the Count arrives in his room, the Bishop is sitting at his desk with the Count’s first... (full context)
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The narrator flashes back: when the Bishop left the Count, the Count was struck by fury, fear, and frustration. Then, he had quickly sprung into... (full context)
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Seeing the Count, the Bishop insists that he leave. The Count tells him to sit. When the Bishop... (full context)
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As the Count waits in the office with the Bishop, the Bishop sneers that the nobility have always... (full context)
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The Count looks over the Bishop’s filing cabinets and asks for the key to them. The Bishop... (full context)
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At 2:30 in the morning, the Count leads the Bishop to the boiler room, forcing him to dump the files into the... (full context)
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At three in the morning, the Count heads back to his room when he encounters the one-eyed cat, who sees him with... (full context)
Book 5, Apotheosis
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On June 21, the Count rises at his usual hour. He has breakfast, reads the papers in the lobby, and... (full context)
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The Count gathers his things in the rucksack he used in 1918 when returning to Russia from... (full context)
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At the same time as the Count descends to the lobby, Sofia concludes her performance in Paris. She takes a final bow,... (full context)
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Using the Count’s map, Sofia follows the path from the Salle Pleyel to the American embassy, though she... (full context)
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...at all, but is in fact Sofia. Richard is amazed to see her, as the Count did not tell Richard when or how Sofia would be arriving at the embassy. (full context)
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...clothes for her. Richard asks if Sofia has something for him; Sofia says that the Count told her that Richard would have something for her first. Richard gives her a package... (full context)
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In the description, the Count notes that Khrushchev was the only person who knew where the dinner was going to... (full context)
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Richard smiles at the description, but also notices another letter from the Count that arrived on his desk while he was out for the evening. Reading it, he... (full context)
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A few minutes before midnight, the Count arrives in the lobby with his rucksack. He sits and watches the guests of the... (full context)
Afterword, Afterwards…
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...his appointment, takes a bus to St. Petersburg Station, and waits in a café. The Count enters and orders a cup of coffee. The Count thanks Viktor for coming, and then... (full context)
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...morning, members of the Russian intelligence agency arrive at the hotel to seek out the Count, but they cannot find him. The officers try to question the Bishop, but they cannot... (full context)
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As Andrey and Emile discuss whether the Count could truly have escaped, the concierge delivers an envelope to each of them. They discover... (full context)
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...when a young man knocks on his door and informs him that Sofia and the Count have both gone missing. They have also found the Bishop locked in a storeroom. He... (full context)
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The young man goes on to say that it appears that the Count had stolen a Finnish passport and Finnish currency, as well as a hat and coat.... (full context)
Afterword, And Anon
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The Count stands in an orchard in the Nizhny Novgorod province. As he walks along an overgrown... (full context)
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Leaving the two children, the Count goes to the local village about five miles away, seeking an inn at the edge... (full context)