Rumors in War and Peace

The Maude translation (Everyman)Tolstoy’s War and Peace is my favorite novel–or one of them.

If I hadn’t read it so often,  I could have learned Russian and read it in the original.

Why didn’t I think of that?

And so I am looking forward to the new BBC adaptation of War and Peace by Andrew Davies, which will surely be shown eventually in the U.S.

There has been an uproar in England regarding the adaptation :  Andrew Kaufman, a Tolstoy scholar and the author of the excellent pop book, Give War and Peace a Chance, is annoyed by a gratuitous incest scene between Helene and Anatole Kuragin.  Kaufman told The Telegraph, “That has absolutely no justification in the text. It just doesn’t exist in it.”

Well,  I know from my many readings that there actually is a rumor in W&P that the Kuragin siblings have committed incest.  Kaufman obviously knows this, too,  so I conclude his quotes in the interview were edited  for maximum dramatic effect.

Give War and Peace a Chance Kaufman 51DPHjQm15L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Like Kaufman, I can’t imagine why the BBC writer, Andrew Davies, included a full-blown incest scene.  There is so much happening in 1,400 pages.

But the immoral brother and sister, Anton and Helene Kuragin, are horribly materialistic, stupid beautiful villains: the enchanting Helene, with the help of her father, traps the bumbling Pierre into a wretched marriage.  And Anatole can’t keep his dick in his pants: he almost destroys the reputation of charming, innocent, naive Natasha when he arranges to elope with her.  The elopement is prevented by her friends and relatives.

So is the incest hyperbole a hook for audiences ? Like the rumored incest of Caligula and Drusilla in I, Claudius, which was the last costume drama I watched?  (No, I’m joking. I watch a lot of costume dramas.)

But there has never been a good film of War and Peace.

Will it sell books?