Well, things are getting momentous now.  Nikolai has decided that he really does love Sonya and wants to be with her forever.

Or does he?  (I actually can’t remember from last time, so this isn’t just a rhetorical question.)

Either way, there’s destined to be some sort of friction with his mum.  We’ll all find out very shortly, I think.

This is the kind of stuff that opera is made of, really.  People professing undying love to one another, with the audience sitting there thinking, “This is all going to end in tears . . .”

As if to set that up, Sonya tries her hand at a bit of fake fortune-telling and freaks out Natasha.  Thus taking this day, which started so gloomily and became so uplifting, full circle back to gloomy again as  Natasha goes to sleep . . .


4 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 7.12 – Nikolai Decides

  1. I hadn’t thought how things had come ull circle with Natasha’s day until you pointed it out, Matt, but you’re right and it’s another thing that makes this chapter fit together so well.

    This chapter was also, I thought, another great example of how Tolstoy puts things next to each other that seem, at first, to be so much at odds. One moment we’re seeing the blossoming of the newly discovered love between Nikolai and Sonya and then, the next moment, this almost childlike scene in front of the mirrors. It’s a great way of reminding us that these two girls have not just suddenly transformed into adults, despite the emotions and futures they are both contemplating. I actually found the whole scene delightfully funny, too – the way Sonya tries to pretend she saw something spooky in the mirrors, just to live up to Natasha’s and Dunyasha’s expectations – until eventually the story starts getting away from her. I think pretty well all of us can identify with that predicament!! I remember it happened with me when I pretended to my then three year old nephew that I had recently watched an epsiode of Humphrey Bear. He pressed me for detail after detail … and even to this day, eighteen years later, I’m not sure if I carried it off well or not.

  2. Oh, I dunno’ about the ‘mirrors’ thing being just for kids . . . do we not read our horoscopes daily? Are any of us innocent of lighting a couple of candles when we want a ‘win’? It’s a little ‘white magic’ you can do at any age.

    These are the notes I made when I read this chapter through last:

    I think Tolstoy wanted his reader to think something awful was going to be seen – and to wonder if Sonya really did see anything.
    I think she did – whether this is revealed in a further chapter, I don’t know.

    Anyway, they’re home now and all it waits for is Nicolai to inform his parents that he definitely wants to marry Sonya.

    (We know there’s gonna’ be a row!)


    There are no new charactors to add . . .

    It’s still 626.

  3. Oh yes, I agree with you Carly … it’s not so much the belief in something a little superstitious that makes it childlike, it’s more their particular approach to it, the way the scene is written. But you’re absolutely right – it’s something many of us hold onto a little. I know I have been known to look through magazines or newspapers, comparing horoscopes, before deciding which one to buy!!

  4. Maybe I can ask you two this . . . it’s from Book 1, Chapter 9 (Maude’s Translation) . . .


    “First-rate,” said Pierre, looking at Dolokhov, who with a bottle of rum in his hand was approaching the window, from which the light of the sky, the dawn merging with the afterglow of sunset, was visible.


    How could that be – dawn merging with the afterglow of sunset?

    Is it because they’re that far north? Is that how it would be?

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