Reading for Friday, 13 March

I know this conversation that takes place between Pierre and Ramballe is fictional, but I’m sure there must have been a few cases like that in the siege (if you can call it a siege) of Moscow.

I love the progression – we go from talking about Napoleon and all things French – and end up with Ramballe telling some off-colour stories – followed by Pierre telling of his love for Natasha.

It doesn’t really matter who he was talking to – the fact that it’s a French soldier just makes it more bizarre – but there’s something cathartic about Pierre finally telling the secret he has carried around in his soul, for at least the last few months of chapters that we’ve been reading.

And, in fact, if he loved Natasha from when he first met her, we’re talking about a secret that he’s carried around since Book I, which is a long, long time ago. (When we actually had 10 people reading the book . . .)

3 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 11.29 – Conversations With the Enemy

  1. It’d be interesting to know just how many really are still out there, Matt, keeping apace with your blog and your chapters – didn’t you do a role call a while ago and ended up with more than you had expected?

    But, anyway – this chapter is, as you say, surely indicative of many that went on, not only during the French presence in Moscow, but, I imagine, in any war.

    Notwithstanding your observation, Matt, about the importance of Pierre at last “fessing up” about his feelings for Natasha, it was almost the sheer banality of this whole conversation that, to me, made it so extraordinary – it really could have been any two blokes, in a pub, crossing one another’s path for just an instant, telling each other all kinds of stories over a drink (or seven). But here, it is not just two blokes in a pub – it is a Russian and a Frenchman, in the midst of a war between Russia and France: a Russian, what’s more, who had only just vowed to himself to kill the French emperor and a Frenchman, who had just invaded Russia’s holiest city. It is almost like the Christmas truce between the Scottish, French and Germans in the film “Joyeux Noel” – but here it is so much less sentimental, so much more trite and, because of that, I think, so much more remarkable.

  2. I’m still following the blog posts most of the time… haven’t actually read Tolstoy since the start of Book II though 😦

  3. Well, there’s still a few of us straggling in the W & P threads at Reading Group Guides . . . I dropped out for a while, even though I was the leader there.
    At first they were going to slow for me – then they started going too fast.
    And the discussion on the books at Barnes n’ Noble – that went really fast.
    Anyway – we’re still here – the three musketeers!
    (And Dave . . . c’mon Dave – let’s hear more from you!)

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