In some ways, War and Peace is starting to remind me of classical music in its structure.  Classical music often returns to the same familiar themes, but they will be varied or made more elaborate every time you come to them.

And here we have another evening with the Rostovs, which in many respects, is like many of the other evenings we’ve spent with the Rostov family so far in this book.  Things are happy and friendly (in fact, it’s nice to see that the family seems to have bonded a bit better and come back together after all the goings-on), Natasha is singing again, their home is always open to Pierre, and even old Shinshin is there to crack jokes.

But at the same time, everything is a touch more complex – Pierre is fighting really hard with his feelings with Natasha, and decides that this is the last visit.  The war is looming, and everyone knows it is far more serious than the last one they lived through.  Petya, once the innocent little boy, wants to run off and join the hussars like his big brother.  And even Natasha is not perfectly light and happy – she is still recovering and, most moving of all, wondering whether Andrei will ever forgive her.

In fact, it’s kind of like life, isn’t it?  The longer we know people, the better we know people, the more difficult, complex and richer our relationships become.  We see people we’ve known for ages do things that sadden us.  We have conversations with people that we’d never have when they were only casual acquaintances.  Things are far less superficial, and that’s what this evening with the Rostovs feels like to me.  We’ve seen beyond the rich aristocrats who throw parties to the human beings underneath.

And . . . seeing as tomorrow is New Years’ Day, that’s my other day off.  So I’ll see you all back on 2 January 2009.  Have a fantastic New Years’ Eve, everyone.  Don’t do anything diabolically dangerous, silly or that you’ll regret.  And don’t insult any French people you might meet, just because you’ve been reading War and Peace.

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4 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 9.20 – Another Evening with the Rostovs

  1. That’s a good analogy, Matt – the comparison with classical music, and the reappearance of old themes in new ways, in new forms. I’ve always been interested in the ways that different forms of art and creativty relate to and reflect one another – and you’ve pointed another example of it here.

    The Rostovs certainly have developed very much and yet are still so very much the same, too and it’s a comforting, heartwarming message, really, that this family – even after all that they have been through over the past year or so – the whole business with Natasha, their finances, their worries about Nikolai and the war – despite all of that, the love that binds them together has pulled them through, and kept them together, albeit now with those little tinges of sadness and worry that are now woven into the fabric of their lives.

    It would be interesting to ponder and think a little about the Rostovs in the context of that famous opening line of Tolstoy’s other great work, “Anna Karenina” – “All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. If the Rostovs are a happy family – and I am sure that, when all is said and done, they are – then are they really just like every other happy family, at least in the ways that really matter? Now that this family has been imbued with such humanity, it is hard to think of them as anything other than unique – but are the things that make them unique (the way they live, their individual quirks and personalities and habits) really only incidental to their happiness as a family? Interesting. If I was a teacher, and War and Peace and Anna Karenina were on the syllabus, I’d probably set that as an essay question.

    Anyway, all that aside – thanks for your wishes, Matt and, of course, Happy New Year to you and Rachel and Shelby as well. And thank you especially for this blog, for your thoughts and insights, for the time you take to maintain it, despite your demands of work and family. It’s been loads of fun – and amazing to think that we’re already halfway through the journey! Happy 2009 or, as Tolstoy might say, с Новым Годом!

  2. Is ok, Matt . . . everybody makes mistakes – that’s why they put rubbers on the ends of pencils.

    с Новым Годом to you fellas’ too!

    It’s officially New Years for us here in Toronto, Canada – 9:00 am . . . and it’s one cold, snotcyclin’ morning, at that . . . hopefully that will soon pass.

    Yeah, Shinshin’s around . . . another cracker of jokes – though I haven’t found much in the way of jokes that are understandable. The only thing funny about Sergei Kuchin (remember that one) was Vasily making a big ass of himself at the dinner party where Pierre and Helene got engaged.

    Have a good ‘whatever you’ve got left of the holidays’ and all the best for 2K9!

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