As part of the White Tower blog tour , I'm pleased to welcome author, Cathryn Constable on the blog to pick her ideal guests for a fantasy dinner party.
I’ve gone over and over who I would want to go out to dinner with and, in the end, came up with a list where I would be able to sit quietly and listen to the conversation. Perhaps I’d stop being overwhelmed for long enough to chip in with, ‘And so, Leo, how did you come up with the name of Count Vronsky’s mare…’ although my Russian would have to be massively improved to understand his answer.
But, after much deliberation, I’ve managed to get the list down to five, all Russians.
1 Ivan Bunin
I’m obsessed with the Russian writer, Bunin. I read Ida by accident… it was just the next story in an anthology. I could hardly breathe by the end, it was so heartbreaking.
2 Anton Chekhov
Ivan Bunin would enjoy having Chekhov as a fellow dinner guest as he idolized the good doctor. Lady with the Lapdog, after years of re-reading, still surprises.
3 Count Vronsky
I should really ask for Tolstoy, but I’m fascinated by his creation, Count Vronsky. He is such a cipher in Anna Karenina: the perfect gentleman (with all the arrogance of a certain sort of aristocrat) who gets caught up in the ‘wrong’ sort of affair. By the end, he has become a tragic figure, denied the swift release from his anguish that Tolstoy allows Anna. Instead, Vronsky lives on, fully aware of his own culpability in her suicide. The last image of him that Tolstoy shows us is a man in real physical pain, waiting for the train that will take him to war and his certain miserable death at the front. I’m not sure that I’d be able to say very much to him: Vronsky had a powerful effect on women and anyway, he’d be all Anna’s… but still.
4 Alexander Kuprin
Kuprin wrote a long short story called The Garnet Bracelet which I’ve read many times. He also wrote a rather wonderful novella called The Duel. They’re both about love (or what passes for love) and yearning and loss. Intoxicating.
5 Isaac Babel
The master of ‘savage prose’, Babel’s stories can be cruel and bleak but there are moments of such beauty that he takes your breath away with a sentence.
When Livy's accepted at Temple College, a school for the very brightest, no one is more surprised than her, though she has always felt different. Recently, Livy's been drawn to the roof, where, among its towering stone angels, she has the strangest desire to fly. But her behaviour is noticed by others, for whom the ability to defy gravity is a possible reality ...one that they'll stop at nothing to use for their own ends.
To find out more about Cathryn Constable: