Reading for Saturday, 21 February

And why not have a dream sequence I say?  Everything that has built up over the past 10 books, plus the events of the recent Battle of Borodino, all play themselves out in Pierre’s head in this bizarre chapter.  The strange thing is that he (and we) almost believe that he had found a good philosophy of life there – if only he hadn’t been woken up.

And then finally at the end, proving again that less can be more, in just a couple of sentences Tolstoy gives us the news about Andrei and Anatole.  The good thing about Leo Tolstoy is that he doesn’t kill characters off willy-nilly, so when he does, it’s always got a much stronger effect than you would expect.

2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 11.9 – Strange Dreams

  1. I, too, found this chapter to be quite a bizarre one – but in a very haunting, strangely effective sort of way, starting, as it does, with such horrific images of war and death. There could hardly be a more potent affirmation of the point made in the previous chapter, about how Pierre longed to his ordinary life, but that that ordinary life no longer existed. But then , in this strange, surreal world of dreams, so many things from the real world seem to merge, and the line between the two becomes so blurred – which, I guess, is exactly what dreams are all about.

    The mention of Anatole and Andrei is, indeed, a remarkable stroke of writing – such a throwaway line about the death of one of the books most important, central characters – that you can’t help but be left with the feeling that there is surely more to be told here.

    But I guess we will just have to wait and see … with Tolstoy, all the usual rules about what is important and what is not can be twisted and turned around many times over.

  2. I wouldn’t count on this news necessarily being true, though – look back at the reports on the battle of Austerlitz.

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