Reading for Friday 7/11/08

The comedy doesn’t let up in this chapter as Nikolai decides to sort out Mitenka, the wily steward who has been ripping off his father.  I just love the little details in this chapter.  The peasants all secretly delighted to see Mitenka getting it.  Nikolai’s dad the next day explaining that, actually, Mitenka was right all along, you just didn’t understand the book-keeping.  Nikolai knows that he’s really letting Mitenka off the hook, but by going along with his father, he doesn’t really have to think about a subject that he doesn’t understand any better than his dad.

Then, finally, his mother comes up saying that Boris’ Mum owes them money, and Nikolai – not having a clue what he is doing – rips us the promissory note, makes his mother cry with happiness, and feels like he’s done the right thing.

But then again, as we read this, are you any better with your finances?  Do you put things on credit card, with a vague feeling that you’ll find the money later?  Have you put some thought as to how you’re going to save for retirement?  I’m not sure what the exact figures are on personal credit card debt, and the number of baby boomers with no savings – but a complete lack of money skills isn’t just something that died out with the Russian aristocracy.

Anyway, it’s okay.  Nikolai has decided to put his time to a far more useful exercise – wolf-hunting.


5 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 7.2 – Nikolai Sorts Things Out

  1. I couldn’t help thinking how timely today’s chapter was, and that perhaps it has in fact been the Rostov household that has been running the global economy of late. What a mess!! Nikolai has been brought back from the army to put things in place, but he really hasn’t got the foggiest idea what he’s doing, so he just gets angry at one of the staff, when he’s really got no idea why, and doesn’t seem to be in the least bit aware of the fact that his own excesses, and those of his father (and, I suspect, the rest of the family for that matter) are surely far more responsible for their current woes than anything that poor old Mitenka has or hasn’t done. And then he decides to bail out Anna Mikhailovna, just to top things off.

    The whole thing makes a great chapter, showing once again Tolstoy’s caustic, prickly humour, where the vacuous and irresponsible wealth of the aristocracy is laid bare before us. Is it any wonder that Russia was in such an economic mess as the nineteenth century chugged along?

    But, Matt, what’s this about paying off credit card debt? You don’t mean to say that I actually have to pay back all that money I’ve been spending with that little bit of plastic, do you? I’m sure I don’t remember anyone telling me that bit.

  2. Oh No! I wish you hadn’t told me that about credit cards! I thought they loaned you that money as a favour – I didn’t know you had to pay them back!

    Heh! Heh!

  3. We just got particularly mad at credit cards during the last 12 months and paid them all off (and destroyed them . . .), so yes, believe you me, you do have to pay them off . . .

  4. Seriously . . . we got into major trouble with credit cards in the mid-nineties . . . never again! Now? We use cards sparingly.

    Anyway . . . here are my notes for this chapter . . .

    Here they are, in trouble financially, and still they’re going out on a hunt, which is going to cost money, either directly or indirectly.

    Nicholas is raring to go himself, yet he’s the one that’s supposed to save them from financial disgrace. Oh boy . . . it must be the wodka . . .

  5. The character count . . .

    Mitenka’s wife –

    Mitenka’s wife and sisters-in-law thrust their heads and frightened faces out of the door of a room where a bright samovar was boiling and where the steward’s high bedstead stood with its patchwork quilt.

    Peasant Delegate –

    Village Clerk –

    Village Elder –

    The village elder, a peasant delegate, and the village clerk, who were waiting in the passage, heard with fear and delight first the young count’s voice roaring and snapping and rising louder and louder, and then words of abuse, dreadful words, ejaculated one after the other.


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