Reading for Monday, 08/12/08

I apologise for being a day late with this comment, especially at such a dramatic point in the book.

This chapter is incredible.  I’d kind of been out of touch with the War and Peace world for a couple of days, but this sucked me right back in.

I remember once someone said about The Birth of a Nation film that it had “the fury of life in it”.  I think that could be said about this chapter.

Well, it has fury, anyway.

The anger that Pierre feels, the rising rage – it just poured out of the book and into my mind as I read it.  I’m not sure whether it’s because this section of the book has essentially been built up since Book 6, or whether it’s just strong writing – but the outrage that Pierre feels must surely have been felt by every reader who ever hit this moment in the book.

And who can’t help but feeling a shiver at the dark, dark moment when Helene tries to make some light joke about Anatole’s problems, only to realise that Pierre is really, really aggravated here?

The fact that, at the end of the chapter, Anatole still can’t see what he’s done only serves to make us more outraged.  Can he have no idea what he has done?  How badly he has wrecked the happiness of two characters we had grown to admire?

These are our friends, damn you, Anatole! What business is it of yours to ruin their lives?

Ahh . . . you’ve got to love great literature.

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One thought on “One-Year War and Peace 8.20 – Pierre’s Fury

  1. Yes, it was certainly another pretty tense chapter here and it definitely had my heart pouning, too. But, as always, Tolstoy gives his characters the little quirks that make them just that bit more interesting and original. In this case, it’s the way that Pierre’s clumsiness comes through, even in this scene of such wild rage with Anatole, which, for me at least, gave the whole thing just that slight edge of farce and yet, somehow, didn’t lessen its dramatic intensity even one bit. That, to me, is the mark of a good writer – the ability to mix such seemingly unmixable threads, and yet keep every one of them still intact.

    And all the similarities that Pierre sees between Anatole and Helene just gives the whole thing an extra dimension – as if it’s not just Anatole’s maltreatment of Natasha that is the issue here, but the years of unhappiness that Pierre himself has experienced as Helene’s husband. And nowhere is that captured more potently than at the very end of the chapter when, having calmed down and got Anatole on his way, it is something so simple as Anatole’s smile, reflecting Helene’s, that sends Pierre into one more fit of rage.

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