Reading for Monday, 2 December 2008

Here’s one of those novelistic twists of fate where everything gets undone.  Marya Dmitryevna has the very sensible idea of sending the girls home, realising that they’re never going to get in Bolkonsky’s good books.

She’s just thinking of it as a way of sorting out the Bolkonsky mess.  We realise it’s the last chance we have of stopping Natasha doing something really stupid . . .

But then a letter arrives.  The beauty of the description of this letter (which I’m sure would sound rather trite and insincere) is that Tolstoy instead describes the effect it has upon Natasha . . . She was kind of 50/50 on the fence about Anatole before it arrived.  Now she knows she’s in love . . .

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3 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 8.14 – A Day Too Late

  1. That’s a good point Matt – the way the main story about the letter is not so much what it says but what its impact on Natasha is.

    And then the supreme irony comes (at least for me) when we see thatthe letter to isn’t even written by Anatole, but by Dolokhov. Somehow this seems to drive home, more than anything else, the façade that is Anatole.

    But, although probably everyone who has been following this whole sorry saga wants desperately to grab Natasha, shake her, and tell her not to do it, this chapter shows us that there is just no going back now – we somehow see her cross that line, beyond which there’s just no return: kind of like that great abyss which Nikolai saw, all that time ago, when he was about to go into battle.

    But on a slightly different note, wouldn’t you just loved to have been a fly on the wall for that meeting between old Prince Nikolai and Marya Dmitrievna?

  2. Actually, I forgot about the letter being written by Dolokhov. It all becomes really just another variation on his card game with Nikolai, doesn’t it?

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