Caught up!

This is a chapter that is quite difficult to know how to take.  If you read it back in Tolstoy’s day, how would you react to it?  Is it a grand old tale of everybody’s favourite sport, wolf hunting?  Or are we meant to feel a sense of horror at this poor old wolf getting savaged by an overwhelming number of dogs for the pleasure of the Russian aristocracy?

I’m not sure.  I tend to read it as the latter – especially since Tolstoy, as always trying to make each character as distinct as possible, gives the wolf a personality of its own.  So I wasn’t feeling a huge sense of satisfaction at the end of this chapter, but mercifully, they decide not to kill the wolf straight away.

Actually, on the question of the wolf – what sex is it?  The only reason I ask is that Garnett describes the wolf as a “he” and Maude describes it as a “she”.  Surely, “he” and “she” is not that complex a concept to translate into English, is it?

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 7.5 – The Wolf is Caught

  1. Well, Matt, like you I had trouble with this chater – knowing how to read it, and trying to guess how Tolstoy meant it to be read.

    It was certainly well written – an incredibly graphic portrayal of the hunt written in a way which, as I remembered reading someone comment some time ago, makes you almost feel what it might be like to be a dog. But the cruelty of the hunt is just so raw and barbaric here – the injured dog, the defeated, humiliated wolf, and all for no reason other than sport.

    I think Tolstoy was, at least at some stage of his life, a vegetarian and so maybe he really does intend for us to be horrified by this chapter. I know I most certainly was.

    The tying up of the wolf is, incidentally, done very graphically in the Bondarchuk film, too – and there, like here, I felt terribly uncomfortable and have only been able to bear to watch it by telling myself that it perhaps was not as bad, nor as cruel, as it looks.

    As for the wolf’s gender, Tolstoy uses “he” in Russian – but then that might be because the Russian word for “wolf” (volk) is masculine so I think (but am not sure) that it would require the masculine pronoun, even for a female wolf (although there is also a Russian word for “she-wolf” (volchitsa)). So, in other words, I don’t know.

  2. I don’t know what to say – the whole thing makes me sick! Why didn’t they just shoot the poor thing, put it out of its misery?

    It’s just too much . . . no, I don’t forgive Tolstoy for this – he might have been against it, for it or indifferent, but I think he should have just left it out.

    Character count . . .

    I do not see one new character – there are so many dog and wolf names, but no new people.

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