By surrounding herself with those at the top of the social circle, she rises above her actually smart husband in perceived intelligence, which leads me to question these salons. Is Helene's salon successful because "stupidity was just what was needed to run such a salon, or because those who were deceived found pleasure in the deception"? (Tolstoy, 387) I lean towards the side that stupidity was actually needed. What do you think?
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the significance of the Helene's salon. How could a woman like her ever be perceived as clever? However, learning the difference in class the other day between "clever" and "smart" in the Russian language was enlightening. If clever implies manipulative, while smart implies intelligent, then a case could be made for Helene's cleverness. She rises to the top only through manipulating those around her, a very "clever" move. Helene tricks people into thinking she is also intelligent, shown when Tolstoy says, "...she could say the emptiest and stupidest things and yet everybody would go into raptures over every word of hers and look for a profound meaning in it of which she herself had no conception" (Tolstoy, 387). It is very interesting that these supposedly intelligent elite of Russia allow themselves to be tricked like this.