Reading for Monday, 16 February

Two concerts of Gidon Kremer and his hand-picked orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, have wreaked havoc with any attempts to get on here and blog.

But I’m back now.  And in this chapter, we find that Kutuzov has to actually make his decision.  And Tolstoy slows time down for a beautifully detailed recreation of what that meeting would have been like.  Was there really a little girl in the room listening in?  Did Kutuzov really sit with his face hidden in shadow so people couldn’t see how disappointed he was?

I don’t know – but it feels real.  And there’s nothing more awe-inspiring than when Kutuzov says that he will have to pay for the broken pots.  Ultimately, whoever said we should abandon Moscow was going to be considered a coward.  But in the Tolstoy-painted version of reality, there was no other choice that could be made.  It was going to inevitably happen because that’s the way the crowd was moving.

And, we’re left again with Kutuzov pondering the continuity/discrete sections dilemma – at what particular point did he lose Moscow?  (Not realising that there was no particular point – it was a smooth slide that led inevitably there.)

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One thought on “One-Year War and Peace 11.4 – Simple but Momentous

  1. Gidon Kremer, huh, Matt? I didn’t even know he had formed hi own orchestra – must have been wonderful. I’ve actually got three concerts of the Arditti Quartet over the next few days – very much looking forward to them. They’re starting with the Beethoven Große Fuge which I just love, despite it being probably one of the craziest pieces of music ever written.

    Anyway – this chapter. I really loved the way this chapter was presented through the eyes of the little girl – the momentous decisions of war being turned, once again, into something of a very different sort of significance. I found myself thinking, as I read this chapter, of Mahler’s 4th Symphony, which kind of provides us with a child’s view of life, death and heaven – and, while that’s not exactly what this chapter does, it’s sort of similar and the effect is really quite sobering. Does the council of war become trivialised by Malasha’s view of it as an argument between Grandpa and Long-skirts? Or was it she alone who saw it for waht it really was?

    I suspect the whole scene is completely fictitious – but it loses none of its magic on that account.

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