Reading for Saturday, 28 February

As the Rostovs still continue to pack the wagons, Berg shows up and we get an immediate contrast between him and Natasha.

Berg has just realised that with everybody leaving he can get some cheap furniture from escaping aristocrats and is interested in a dressing-table. Not only that, he wants to borrow a servant to help him pick it up, when the Rostovs are clearly evacuating.  I don’t think he’s going to win any son-in-law brownie points there.

Meanwhile, Natasha looks out in the front yard, and all she can see is the wounded people . . . And so in the end it is the daughter that confronts the mother, not her husband.

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 11.16 – Dressing-Tables and Human Beings

  1. Once again, welcome back Matt – it’s good to have you on deck again, with so muh afoot now in war-ravaged Moscow.

    As you note, Berg doesn’t come across in a very attractive light at all in this chapter – with all his selfish, parasitic opportunism – made only all the more repulsive when set aside the sufferng of the wounded soldiers, helplessly, desperately, relying on the good natures of the aristocracy to save them. It’s Natasha’s impulsive, naive sympathy that sets the new tone here – the eggs teaching the hen, as the count himself puts it.

    And yet while that sympathy and good will is undoubtedly touching, I can’t help but feel that Tolstoy is sneering at it ever so slightly, too – as if this gush of passionate concern for the wounded soldiers is really just another whim for Natasha, no more securely grounded in her than her passion, a few chapters ago, for packing the rugs. And not just so for Natasha, either – but for the whole household, too, who seem to take on Natasha’s zeal just as casually, just as incidentally, as if this is no more than the new thing to be excited about.

  2. Matt, you fooled me – I announced on my post at Reading Group Guides that I expected you would title this one ‘Eggs Teaching the Hens’ . . . but you didn’t.
    Heh! Heh!
    I did, however, receive this chapter in the same way you and Ian did – what a guy that Berg is!

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