Reading for Wednesday 08/10/08
The ironic thing about wars is that even though they’re fought by dedicated soldiers fighting for their country, the actual reasons for entering the war and the way things are divided up among the winners at the end can often be completely unrelated.
Thus we see that the Russian soldiers, served hard for their country to fight against Napoleon – the the Devil, the enemy of the people, the great dictator – only to find that several years later, the Russians are now making peace with Napoleon.
And this chapter, in Tolstoy’s usual economic style, paints this picture very neatly. Built around the real-life peace treaty signing at Tilsit, we see Boris – ready to change allegiance at the drop of a hat to whoever can boost him up the social ladder. And then, on the other hand, we have Nikolai Rostov – whose idealism struggles with the fact that he now has to accept the French as comrades.
It’s also interesting, in a broader sweep over the book, what time does to friendships. In the chapters we were just reading previously, time and events has brought Andrei and Pierre closer. Their friendship has become stronger throughout the book.
Contrast that with Boris and Nikolai. They spent a lot of time in the same house as boys, but now their paths are headed in well and truly different directions.
But isn’t that life? There are those we grow closer to, and those we drift away from. All these things, subtly changed by life and the passage of time . . .
It’s good to be back into this book . . .