Reading for Sunday, 18 January

And here we see Nikolai Rostov dealing with the “peasant uprising”.  This chapter really just goes to confirm what I felt about Nikolai in the last chapter.  He’s still the headstrong, crazy guy from earlier in the book.

Still, you have to hand it to him – a couple of punched noses, and tying up a couple of them, and he’s got the horse and carriage – and a rather wealthy heiress who’s free to do what she likes.

In the final section of the chapter, it’s fascinating how they both deal with their attraction for one another.  Marya stares out the window and smiles, while promising herself that she never has to speak of it to anyone (and let’s face it, she wouldn’t).

Nikolai meanwhile gets a bit ticked off with one of his officers making a joke about it, because he knows he does like her – but what about Sonya?  Can I say “Poor old Sonya” again? I think I again.

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3 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 10.14 – Dealing with the Peasants

  1. I agree with you, Matt: we do see very much the same headstrong, crazy Nikolai here as earlier in the book. And it’s interesting how strong the similarities are, eve if they are shown in a rather different light now than before. Here he takes up his cause, with his usual fervour, ignited by his latest passion. This time it’s a drive to bring the peasants to their senses – but really only because of his new found concern for Marya, not because he really has any views about the rightness or wrongness of the peasants mutiny. It’s a not really very much unlike his patriotic zeal before the Tsar – something which then, like now, was inspired by the moment, not by a reasoned belief in the issues. This kind of almost childlike enthusiasm, driven by his passions, is, I think, as much the mark of Natasha as it is of Nikolai, and both of them seem to be so very mich their parents’ (especially their father’s) children. It’s a pretty deft portrait of the ways in which dynamics grow and work, I think.

    I think the chapter is also, incidentally, a great depiction of the tensions and dilemmas of the peasants – wanting to stand their ground and yet still too disenfranchised to go through with it when put under the pressure of the aristocracy to whom they still so instinctively kowtow.

  2. It makes me think of how it must have been in those times – it’s perfectly alright for a man to keep a young woman waiting for him indefinitely – meantime, she grows too old to be courted by anyone else.
    But still – I’m not taking this seriously – I do not believe Nicolai’s head could have been turned this easily.

    Were I to pick a weak spot in the story, it would be this. This is truly a weak spot, where the writer has compromised his story – just to get from one stone to another? I think so . . . for some reason he wants Nicolai to change lovers . . .
    We’ll see what he does.

  3. Actually, no, I’m afraid I disagree with you, Carly. Nikolai is so impetuous, he could quite *easily* fall for someone else when he is out away from the house. So it makes perfect sense that he’d be likely to go for a lovely heiress, especially since she fans his manly ego that wants to be a hero.

    And, look, maybe Marya would be happy with him . . . after all, she’s not perfectly all with it anyway.

    But then, that’s the thing about War and Peace. What character is perfect? You could take strong points from all the characters and come up with the perfect character, but then none of them would be real.

    What we’re left with here is a bunch of quite human characters, none of them perfect.

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