Reading for Thursday 09/10/08

Here again, the novel cycles back on itself – we see Rostov again attempting to meet Emperor Alexander, with a whole stack of dreams in his head about what will happen if he does.  This time, however, it’s not out of a personal sense of glory so much as his desire to help Denisov.

And, again, things are not as he expects.  The Emperor does nothing “because the law is greater than he is”.  I know we debated about this earlier in the book, but I still think Tolstoy portrays Alexander as being somewhat soft and useless.

Especially in the next chapter . . . which I shall blog about now.

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4 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 5.20 – Rostov & Alexander (Meeting 2)

  1. I reckon this chapter must be one of the closest Tolstoy has come to writing comedy, farce even. I don’t know if everyone found it as funny as I did, but the whole scene of Nikolai, without giving anything a moment’s thought, just striding into the Tsar’s house to deliver a letter, imagining falling at his feet and having this noble conversation with him, and then suddenly finding himself there in the house and completely embarrassed about what he has done, is just a classic. It reminds me of striding up to the stage to get Rolf Harris’s autograph when I was ten years old and then suddenly noticing that I was standing there, in front of a couple of thousand people, on the stage of the Melbourne Town Hall. Back in those days, I adored Rolf Harris every bit as much as Nikolai adores the Tsar, so I kind of know what he must have felt. And then I just love the final bit, where his petition for Denisov has clearly been rejected, and yet, after having gone to all this trouble, Nikolai, bedazzled by being in the presence of the Tsar, just forgets about that completely.

  2. Oh yes. In fact, until a couple of years ago, I still had it. So I guess I was ultimately more successful than Nikolai Rostov.

  3. I am furious! Why does it have to be this way?

    These men have gone through hell and back, lived in very poor conditions – starving! And Denisov should have to beg pardon for having rightly stood up for his men, getting them food?

    It really infuriates me to think of these two generals and all these officers ‘dining’, having this wonderful time. Especially after that scene in the hospital that Rostov attended.

    Had he up and shot the Emperor right there and then, I wouldn’t have blamed him!

    Grrrrrrr!

    My count . . .

    Cavalry General –

    It was a cavalry general who had obtained the Emperor’s special favor during this campaign, and who had formerly commanded the division in which Rostov was serving.

    Hayne – The Emperor’s Groom

    Hayne, the same groom who had been at Austerlitz, led up the Emperor’s horse, and the faint creak of a footstep Rostov knew at once was heard on the stairs.

    Man with braces –

    A short stout man of about thirty, in white breeches and high boots and a batiste shirt that he had evidently only just put on, standing in that room, and his valet was buttoning on to the back of his breeches a new pair of handsome silk-embroidered braces that, for some reason, attracted Rostov’s attention. This man was was speaking to someone in the adjoining room.

    Official –

    On hearing this indifferent voice, Rostov grew frightened at what he was doing; the thought of meeting the Emperor at any moment was so fascinating and consequently so alarming that he was ready to run away, but the official who had questioned him opened the door, and Rostov entered.

    536

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