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Turns out he’s been sent there by his dad, who was sick of paying his crazy Petersburg debts. He’s supposed to marry Marya or Julie Karagin.
He’s in no hurry to do that, though, because...he’s already married!
Two years ago, while he was stationed in Poland, he seduced some landowner’s daughter and her father forced him to marry her. Anatole then abandoned this wife and gave her dad enough money to hush the whole thing up. But still, married is married.
Now, Anatole is living it up in Moscow, drinking and having affairs with actresses and married women. He tries to stay away from young girls, since the whole having to marry them thing would cramp his style.
All in all, he’s pretty happy with himself.
Now he is really into Natasha. He spends the evening discussing her attributes with Dolokhov. Dolokhov warns him that it’s better to wait until she’s already married, but Anatole is too gung-ho to be talked out of it. He has invited Natasha to a party his sister is throwing.