And Pierre’s downfall is nothing compared with this chapter.  Prince Bolkonsky (now astonishingly transplated to Moscow – proving that his daughter’s letter in Book 6 was wrong about that, too) and now he’s gone to Moscow, and is becoming thoroughly more unpleasant by the minute.

What I never get is what Mademoiselle Bourienne thinks about all this.  Is she a gold-digger, and enjoys the chance that she might get a share of the old guy’s fortune?  Or is she just terrified and goes along with everything else?

Either way, the family traumas are mounting.

Oh yeah, and while I think about it – I did love the line from 8.1 that talked about the particular Russian trait of seeing the good and beautiful things in life – while at the same time recognising that there was a lot of misery and evil in the world.

If that doesn’t sum up Tolstoy, then I don’t think anything does.  (Actually, it can sum up a lot of things, really, from the Bible through to Mahler symphonies.)

Anyway, must run.  See you tomorrow!


3 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 8.2 – Prince Bolkonsky’s Downsliding

  1. Yes it does get rather more glum here and yet it’s yet another example of Tolstoy’s superb characterisation – the way he brings out all those little quirks and nuances and contradictions that can make even the most noble person fallible, and the most disagreeable person human. We see Marya’s unhappiness bring her to a point where she becomes irritable and grumpy – I never expected to see that in her. And I just loved the bit where we read about how she misses writing to Julie – not just because Julie herself seems to no longer be the person she once was, but because being able to see her each week in fact takes away from her the opportunity to write, which she loved so much.

    As I read more and more through this Chapter about what a horribly, unrelentingly cruel person the Old Prince has become, I began to lose some of my earlier affection for him and his eccentricity but then, in that final paragraph, where Tolstoy shows us his vulnerabilities, his weaknesses, he suddenly becomes a human being again.

    Time and time again we see this brilliance in Tolstoy’s writing and chapters like this none remind me why it’s always so good to come back and to read him again and again.

  2. Well, you don’t have to worry about Madame B getting anywhere with Andrei – he can’t stand the woman.

    The book seems to need a number of what it’s folks call ‘intriguers’. She’s just one of ’em.

  3. Characters?

    Footman (Philip)

    After dinner, when the footman handed coffee and from habit began with the princess, the prince suddenly grew furious, threw his stick at Philip, and instantly gave instructions to have him conscripted for the army.


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