Reading for Monday 13/10/08

And here we have, in a neat circle, Andrei’s return from the Rostovs and Tolstoy masterfully has the scene where the oak is in full bloom, symbolising for Andrei the fact that life doesn’t end at 31.

I’m rather glad of that, actually.  That’d only give me another year to go if that were the case.

But this chapter, in a way, is rather amusing, because Andrei is looking for an excuse to return to life at St Peterburg.  Remembering that when we first met him, he was wandering around Anna Pavlovna’s soirée, fed up to the back teeth with anyone and everyone there.

And finally, in the last couple of paragraphs, Tolstoy gives us a little glimpse of Marya – she who is of much more steady emotions than her brother.  Sadly, Tolstoy is condescending towards her (and women in general) with her comment about how intellectual work dries men up, but I think the point of the comment was more that she mistakes Andrei’s irritability for him thinking too hard – when we know that it’s because all sorts of emotions are stirring in him.

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 6.3 – The Oak Again

  1. First, Matt, my apologies for the double post yesterday. I thought my comment wasn’t loading, so I clicked it twice and, obviously, it got posted twice as a result. Sorry about that.

    And I’m sure Prokofiev’s opera is very hard to stage, or at least very expensive – there’s an enormous number of “solo” parts in it. I think, too, it’s not a particularly popular opera, and even people who like other things by Prokofiev sometimes see it as second-rate music, which I personally don’t agree with one bit. So, while an opera with so many people in it was probably a great choice to show off the Australian Opera at the opening of the Opera House, it’s probably not very viable financially at other times. Which is a shame, really, because I really do think it’s tremendous. The Choral Epigraph from it (usually performed at the beginning of the War Part) is just staggering, I think.

    Anyway, onto the Chapter. I suppose it kind of stood to reason that after that potent image of the barren oak two chapters ago that it was bound to make a reappearance, in full life, as it does here – but, even so, I know I was surprised by that when I first read War and Peace, and loved the message of hope that both the tree and Tolstoy told.

    I remembered how the tree was part of a new hope and a vague, irrational possibility of happiness, for Andrei, but what I hadn’t remembered, though, was the little twist of his sternness with Marya later on in the chapter.

    A little differently to you, Matt, I think I saw this more as a negative comment on Andrei, than on Marya. It would have been so easy to portray Andrei, with all these new feelings beginning to bloom within him, as suddenly the most joyful bloke in the world to be around – but that just wouldn’t have been Andrei, and it seems to me perfectly in character for him to behave like this. There is something very amusing in it – but something all too true, too, in its message about how men deal with their feelings. I guess , no matter how secretly moved Andrei might be by an old tree springing to life, or by a young girl wanting to fly away to the moon, he just aint gonna be a Sensitive New Age Guy!!

  2. They say there’s a special magic in oak trees, and it seems there was in this particular one.

    I have nothing to add and no characters to tack onto my count of 537.

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