The Cosmopolitan Dream
Brian E. Denton

This chapter (VII) contains the scene that gave Orlando Figes the title for his cultural history of Russia “Natasha’s Dance”. Here’s what he said about it in the introduction:

It is not my argument that art can serve the purpose of a window on to life. Natasha’s dancing scene cannot be approached as a literal record of experience, though memoirs of this period show that there were indeed noblewomen who picked up village dances in this way”.

(A footnote points to this memoir by Kvoshchinskaya, who was born a countess in the Golitsyn family)

In other words - this is a piece of sentimental nationalism, but it also isn’t completely beyond the bounds of possibility that similar dances really happened.

(This is the busiest week of my year…but I’m saving this discussion to watch at the weekend.)