In this chapter, the inevitable happened – and this little subplot all comes to an end.  In fact, in a regular novel, you wouldn’t have needed to put it in at all.

But it’s this incident that tells you just that bit more about the Bolkonsky family – and the Kuragin family for that matter.

Highlights for me, were the various levels of insomnia caused by the guests at the Bolkonsky mansion.  (And the amusing fact that it is only Anatole, at the centre of all this, who can sleep quite easily.)

And then, the amazing way in which Princess Marya manages to transform herself, inside an hour, from being the victim to being a victorious martyr.  Is she in denial?  Probably.

But, hey, having seen what happened to Pierre, it’s probably a good thing for Marya that things didn’t go differently.


3 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 3.5 – A Broken Heart and A Noble Sacrifice

  1. I guess I saw this chapter as yet another example of how superbly Tolstoy does his characterisations – and for me, this time, it was mainly in the relationship between Marya and her father: at once almost shockingly abusive and yet also infinitely loving.

    As for Marya’s transformation from victim to victorious martyr – I guess I am inclined to think they’re just two sides of the same coin much of the time, and I’m not sure that I see Marya in either light, to be honest, or even that I would exactly describe her as being in denial, either.

    But having said that, I’m not entirely clear how I would describe her. I certainly find her unfathomably sad, and it seems to me that she summonses almost titanic resources to see that the hand fate has dealt her as a good one – not only in this incident with Anatole and Mlle Bourienne, but in her life generally. But, for me, that doesn’t put her into a state of denial and yet shge’s obviously not a genuine optimist, who always looks on the bright side of things, either.

    I guess she, like so many of Tolstoy’s characters, can really only be understood by seeing the wonderfully vivid portraits of them that Tolstoy creates, and leaving it at that.

  2. Well, this was another thing I went on about in response to your blog concerning chapter 3.1 . . . Marya . . . I compared her with ‘Helene’ and what a difference.

    Could you have seen Helene standing up to her father, Vasily, and saying ‘Dad, I don’t want to get married.’

    Marya (though very timidly) did so – stood up to her father and Vasily and said – sorry, boys! I don’t wanna’ get married. I was proud of her . . .

    Even if Helene had caught Pierre smooching with one of the family’s ‘companions’, I think she still would have gone along with it.

    But Marya’s father – Bolonsky – what was the matter with that guy? Didn’t want to let go of his daughter? I got the impression his feelings about his daughter, Mary, were a bit unhealthy. Nothing ‘physical’ was mentioned here, but I got the impression that he was ‘in love’ with his daughter.

    Even though he chided her often, pulled her down in front of company, he was really afraid to let go and was thoroughly relieved when she refused to marry Anatole.

    I’m hoping to see Mary (Marya) really ‘find’ herself in future chapters of the book. I think we’re going to see a good character ‘build-up’, as the writer is ‘building’ her.


  3. I’ve gone through this once again – how relieved I was that Marya found Anatole and Mme. B. together and did not agree to marry him.

    She’s ahead of the game – got a chance to be just what she likes being, the martyr.

    May Anatole and Mme. B. be very happy together.

    There are no new characters to add to my count of 308.

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