Reading for Sunday 19/10/08
And so now Helene has risen in favour, especially in the new French circles. And poor old Pierre is just stuck with it. It shows that while Pierre and Helene might be back together again, things are no better (including the ongoing spectre of Boris Drubetskoy, still conducting his affair under Pierre’s nose).
I love that what is highlighted here is that despite Pierre’s lack of sophistication, and his misguided attachment to Masonic principles, the things he stands for (justice, virtue, change, etc.) are all things that are worth pursuing. And while the “clever” circles that formed around his wife may have the funny lines, the witty sayings and the poems – ultimately, they’re a shifting, vacillating group of people who don’t care about anything. They were happy to be against Napoleon at the beginning of the book, now they’re happy to socialise with the French.
It’s important to remember that this rather long stretch of peace time that occurred after the treat of Tilsit is meant to be read in light of the fact that, to most Russians looking back, the war with Napoleon never really ended. He was never really a friend of Russia. So in many ways, I think Tolstoy is heaping scorn on the aristocrats who were quite happy to change their allegiances at will – of which Boris and Helene are a prime example.
All of this will be quite a different matter in a few years’ time . . .