This particular round of peacetime is where all the wheels fall off.  Nikolai is home, but is not really turning into a likeable young man.  (Well, I didn’t like the way he treated Sonya and the contemptuous tone he was taking with Pierre.)  Andrei, after we invested so much time getting used to him, went down in his blaze of glory at Austerlitz, leaving behind a pregnant wife and a crazy father.  And now, Pierre’s marriage is all gone to pieces.

Granted, we could see this one coming from before he proposed, but still – it’s never fun to see this kind of thing happen.  It’s also a tribute to Tolstoy’s writing that when he removes the good things that used to shine through (Andrei’s friendship with Pierre, Natasha’s enthusiasm, Kutuzov’s nobility, etc) that life starts to seem a bit grim.

Anyway, we’ll see what unfolds tomorrow . . . because even I can’t remember exactly what happens next and will be interested to see how it all unfolds.

Oh, yeah, and I will post my response to the meme that cafedave tagged me with a few days earlier – I just need to find a spare moment.

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6 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 4.6 – A Marriage on the Rocks

  1. I know I keep saying how well Tolstoy captures things – but he really does, and this is another terrific example of that. Pierre’s pacing through the night, a myriad of thoughts and blames, feels, and is, such a real and graphic portrayal of what all of us go through at moments of crisis, where we feel crushed and betrayed and disillusioned by others.

    And here, too, we get another perspective on the relationship between the individual and the eternal, as Tolstoy understands it: we see Pierre in one breath seeing his suffering as insignificant against the bigger canvas of eternity and then, in the next breath, we see him plagued by the humiliation and rage he feels because of his belief in his wife’s infidelity. As I understand it, this, too, is very much in sync with Tolstoy’s view of things: that while destiny, or history, or the universe, move by a set of laws and forces beyond anything that we as individuals can shape or influence, it is the inner reality, the inner experience, that is for us the most potent. Hence, as Tolstoy sees things, there is this fundamental conflict between the world as it is and the world as we experience it.

    As with you, Matt, I’m not sure I particularly agree with Tolstoy’s view of things, at least not totally, but it is certainly interesting to see the ways he illustrates it all in his writing, and how he does it in ways that really do seem somehow to resonate.

    But, be all that as it may, this is certainly a very potent and powerful chapter – and we see that futile rage and violence are by no means peculiar to the battlefield.

  2. Hi Ian,

    I hadn’t actually noticed that conflict between the world as it is and how we experience it, so I shall keep an eye out for it. It’s certainly been one of the most debated and talked about issues in philosophy for a long time (and the whole basis for “The Matrix”, which is about as un-Tolstoy as you can get . . .)

  3. Can’t say I had thought of the Matrix comparison – but it’s probably kind of apt. Makes you wonder if Tolstoy might have written science fiction if he lived in our times: it can be a great genre for exploring all those big questions (not that I’m all that much of a fan of it, myself).

    I think (although am not sure) that Tolstoy had a quasi-Buddhist view of the dichotomy between the experience of reality and reality itself – a view that we need to ultimately learn to deny the self and reduce ourselves to the inner essence, or something along those lines. But I might be making that up.

  4. Well, see that’s where I was going wrong when I read this part the first time – I didn’t know Dolokov was only ‘wounded’. I thought he was dead right away – that was when I was listening to the chapters while gardening – wasn’t really concentrating.

    I found it interesting the way the rules went – you can’t support the hand you’re holding the gun with – didn’t know that.

    It was kinda’ funny really – had to laugh when Pierre fell in the snow. And he’d never fired a gun before, but wasn’t letting on that it was so.

    There are no new characters to add – the count is still 435.

  5. I posted Chapter 5 comments onto # 6 . . . anyway, I’ll just carry on . . .
    That’s so sad, Pierre staying in his father’s room where he’d died.
    QUOTE:
    “What has happened?” he asked himself. “I have killed her lover, yes, killed my wife’s lover. Yes, that was it! And why? How did I come to do it?”- “Because you married her,” answered an inner voice.
    UNQUOTE
    So . . . is he dead? Or just wounded? I’m still confused – they said he was ‘dying’ but he wasn’t ‘dead’ when we left him last – when he told Rostov about his poor mother at home.
    Head Steward – Pierre’s head steward . . .
    “What has happened?” he asked himself. “I have killed her lover, yes, killed my wife’s lover. Yes, that was it! And why? How did I come to do it?”- “Because you married her,” answered an inner voice.
    Louis XVI –
    “Louis XVI was executed because they said he was dishonorable and a criminal,” came into Pierre’s head, “and from their point of view they were right, as were those too who canonized him and died a martyr’s death for his sake. Then Robespierre was beheaded for being a despot.
    Moibre –
    And when he had said it for the tenth time, Molibre’s words: “Mais que diable alloit-il faire dans cette galere?” occurred to him, and he began to laugh at himself.
    Robespierre –
    “Louis XVI was executed because they said he was dishonorable and a criminal,” came into Pierre’s head, “and from their point of view they were right, as were those too who canonized him and died a martyr’s death for his sake. Then Robespierre was beheaded for being a despot.
    439

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