Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Descriptions of Young Women

"Princess Hélène was smiling; she got up with the same unchanging smile of a perfectly beautiful woman with which she had entered the drawing room. Lightly rustling her white ball gown trimmed with ivy and moss, her white shoulders gleaming, her hair and diamonds shining, she walked straight on between the parted men, not looking at anyone, but smiling to everyone, and as if kindly granting each of them the right to admire the beauty of her figure, her full shoulders, her very exposed bosom and back, as the fashion then was, and, as if bringing with her the brilliance of a ball, approached Anna Pavlovna. Hélène was so good-looking that there was not only not a trace of coquetry to be seen in her, but, on the contrary, it was as if she was embarrassed by her unquestionable and all too strongly and triumphantly effective beauty. It was as if she wished but was unable to diminish the effect of her beauty."

"The dark-eyed, big-mouthed, not beautiful, but lively girl, with her child’s bare shoulders popping out of her bodice from running fast, with her black ringlets all thrown back, her thin, bare arms, her little legs in lace-trimmed knickers and low shoes, was at that sweet age when a girl is no longer a child, but the child is not yet a young lady." [Regarding Natasha]

"Sonya was a slender, diminutive brunette with a soft gaze shaded by long eyelashes, a thick black braid wound twice around her head, and a sallow tinge to the skin of her face and especially of her bared, lean, but gracefully muscular arms and neck. In the smoothness of her movements, the softness and suppleness of her small limbs, and her somewhat sly and reserved manner, she resembled a pretty but not yet fully formed kitten, which would one day be a lovely little cat."

"Princess Marya sighed and glanced into the pier glass that stood to the right of her. The mirror reflected an unattractive, weak body and a thin face. Her eyes, always sad, now looked into the mirror with particular hopelessness. ... the princess’s eyes, large, deep, and luminous (sometimes it was as if rays of warm light came from them in sheaves), were so beautiful that very often, despite the unattractiveness of the whole face, those eyes were more attractive than beauty. But the princess had never seen the good expression of those eyes, the expression they had in moments when she was not thinking of herself. As with all people, the moment she looked in the mirror, her face assumed a strained, unnatural, bad expression."

~ War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

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