Reading for Sunday, 12/10/08
By this stage in the book, Tolstoy has so many characters that he can combine them together in all manner of situations, which makes for fascinating reading. But it is this combination of characters in this chapter that is probably the greatest of all.
In this chapter, the gloomy pessimistic Andrei meets the optimistic, full-of-life Natasha Rostov.
Of course, they couldn’t really have met any earlier. Andrei was married at the beginning of the book, and going off to war. Natasha was 12. Things would have been somewhat complex, to put it mildly.
But, whether by Tolstoy’s plan, or whether the book just led him there – Boris has moved on and become completely inappropriate for Natasha. And Andrei’s wife has died, leaving him free.
Of course, this is all very early stages, and I love the way that he is getting interested in Natasha, but misinterprets all the signals. He keeps noticing her, and thinks it’s because he’s wondering why she’s so happy. But when, towards the end of the chapter, he voices the thought that “For her I might as well not exist!” we realise that there are deeper things stirring than curiosity . . .
But all this will be played out in time.
See you tomorrow.