I know this is very naughty of me and not really in keeping with the one chapter a day thing, but I thought – in the interests of getting us back up to date – I’d do one post on two chapters.
Chapter 5.15 really just sets the scene of how hard the life has now become in the Russian army out in Prussia. So hungry they’re digging up roots to eat that make them feel ill, the horrible conditions, etc.
I should comment more on that, but I’ll quickly move on to 5.16, which is Denisov’s “theft” of the much-needed supplies for the army. Obviously, the big part of the chapter is Denisov’s tale where he gets ordered to go to the commissariat department and explain why he took the supplies. He goes round and finds out that it was Telyanin who had been denying him the supplies and proceeds to beat the living harry out of him.
Now this was really where the beauty of reading Tolstoy slowly is starting to pay off. At first, I couldn’t remember for the life of me who Telyanin was. If I’d been reading this book at a regular pace, I would have just said, “Oh well,” and kept reading.
But then it came back to me – and forgive me if I’m the only one who had this “ah ha” moment and the rest of you all knew – Telyanin is the officer, right back in Book 2, who stole Denisov’s purse.
Remember, Nikolai Rostov set out to catch him, and when he found out that the guy was dirt poor, he took pity on him and let him keep the money?
So all of a sudden, I understood Denisov’s rage. Here they are – been starved of supplies for two weeks. He goes round to find out why. And there is Telyanin – the thief – in charge, and denying him of supplies. He may have got away with it once, but not twice . . .
So, yeah, I quite understand why it all came down to fisticuffs . . . both rather humorous and a reminder of how life turns full circle.
I love epic novels when they double back on themselves like this! It just makes the patience in reading them all pay off.
See you all tomorrow.