Reading for Saturday 27/09 – 5.8
It’s back to Bald Hills again and to the Bolkonsky mansion. Rather amusingly, old Bolkonsky has been made one of the heads of the local militia that is being raised to fight the French. (Well, it is rather amusing as long as you weren’t one of these subordinates to whom he is described as being “severe to [the point of] cruelty”.
However, this chapter is mainly an interesting glance back into Andrei’s world to see what has become of him since losing his wife. He’s sunk back into his old gloom and pessimism again. However, he doesn’t really find joy anywhere now. Previously, he looked to the battlefield to give glory and fame – and that was where he hoped to find his satisfaction.
But his near-death experience has embittered him, and now he doesn’t want to fight, but feels useless otherwise. (Note the reaction to his dad’s letter.)
Then, on top of this, he has the worrying problem of his son’s fever. Anyone who’s had a baby can tell you that a baby feeling hot is a rather terrifying thing. And I can only wonder how terrifying it would have been back in the days of the rather primitive medicine of 1807 (can you believe we’re now two years into the book?).
Every time my daughter has had a fever, it’s always been a pain, because you need to feed her some sort of medicine to get the temperature down, but the last thing a sick child wants to do is take any gross-tasting medicine . . . you can’t really win.
Anyway, this rather grim situation is interrupted by a letter from Bilibin, who you might remember as being the diplomat with the rather expressive wrinkles on his face that Andrei met when he was sent to deliver a message to the Austrian Emperor. If you can’t remember him, don’t worry. All you need to know is that he’s rather dry and cutting. But you can enjoy all that tomorrow.
See you then!