You may have noticed that the chapters are getting shorter.  This is not a bad thing, actually, because it makes the reading move along that much faster.

What a moving chapter this one is – I especially love the inner strength that Marya shows in the face of the  bad news from her father.  Tolstoy does kind of hint that it’s all based on an overblown faith, which he doesn’t take so seriously, but he does take her strength seriously.

Anyway, you may all have guessed (or already know) what happens in the next chapter, but we can enjoy this moment of poignance.

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5 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 4.7 – Grief

  1. It’s funny, isn’t it, how different things move us all differently? Which I guess is why reading a book like this in this way, sharing perspectives and comments with others, is such a wonderful and enriching experience.

    I, too, was moved by Marya’s strength in this chapter but, for some reason, was even more moved by Prince Andrei’s dad. The way he tries for a little while to follow his usual routines, almost in denial (although, with someone like the old prince, it’s a little more complicated than denial), an then he suddenly loses all his facade and bursts into sobs. And that wonderful way that Tolstoy described that moment – how Marya noticed the slowing down of the lathe, and would, from then on, always associate that noise with that moment. Isn’t that alway the way these thing happen – some little incidental bit of trivia gets forever linked with something profound, just because of the sheer coincidence of the two happening together.

    In any case, this chapter is a wonderful an yet simple portrayal of two very different approaches to grief and loss. Wonderful writing (again)!!

  2. Marya’s strength?

    If either of you two guys had ever been in labour, you’d be giving some credit to the preggy there.

    I have never, at any time during my reading of this book, ‘admired’ Lise, The Little Princess, but the poor little thing lost her life giving birth to Andrei’s son and she didn’t really get to enjoy his newfound respect for life and for herself.

    She died with the belief that she was unloved.

  3. Hi Carly,

    Well, at the time when I wrote this post, Lise was going along okay and it was Marya who was suffering. I agree with you that a couple of chapters later, it was definitely Lise who was suffering more.

  4. I see your point Carly. But, as Matt points out, Lise and her own sad, sad suffering come very much to the fore in a couple of chapters.

    I guess I just felt that this particular chapter was about something different.

    I find something wonderfully, if sadly, gentle about Lise – almost as if Tolstoy is showing us what happens to people who are just simple and good, as Dostoevsky does in “The Idiot”. Lise has always, it seems, been in the background – sort of pushed aside by the men around her – until, in a few chapters’ time, she is dead and those men who ignored her and disregarded her suddenly see in her a look of such gentle, childlike accusation.

    So, believe me – I feel very much for her. But I think Tolstoy wants us to react to her in the way that Andrei and the old prince did – don’t REALLY notice her, not really, until she is gone.

  5. OK, I’ll let that one go – ‘course she hadn’t actually died yet . . . but just the labour – when a woman’s giving birth, she’s the only hero in the house – trust me! I know!

    Ha! Ha!

    Gardener – Bolkonsky’s

    After receiving this news late in the evening, when he was alone in his study, the old prince went for his walk as usual next morning, but he was silent with his steward, the gardener, and the architect, and though he looked very grim he said nothing to anyone.

    Steward – Prince Bolkonsky’s

    After receiving this news late in the evening, when he was alone in his study, the old prince went for his walk as usual next morning, but he was silent with his steward, the gardener, and the architect, and though he looked very grim he said nothing to anyone.

    441

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