Reading for Sunday, 22 March

And then just to remind us that real life really does roll on, regardless of what’s happening to other people, this chapter is largely devoted to Nikolai Rostov being sent to a small town to speak to the local militia about horses.

But it very quickly turns into a bit of a holiday for him, complete with horses, dancing and girls . . . it would be quite bizarre in real life, but makes perfect sense in this novel . . .

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 12.4 – Nikolai’s Holiday

  1. Yes, a very human chapter here, with another of Tolstoy’s brilliant (in my opinion) descriptions of the ways his characters behave – descriptions that make them so instantly recognisable, as if we want to say, “Yes, I know someone just like that” (not that I do, really – but Tolstoy’s writing makes everything feel familiar).

    The other thing that really impressed me in this chapter was Tolstoy’s incredible capacity to keep track of the little traits of his characters. Nikolai was, as we may remember, someone who always liked the way the army provided him with structure, predictability and the release from the need to make his own decisions – and we see that precisely here again, where Tolstoy tells how Nikolai would have thought that there was simply nothing for him to have an opinion about in terms of the current situation in Russia, and that that was Kutuzov’s role. It’s only a small thing, but a reminder that Nikolai has, in essence, not really changed and, perhaps even more remarkably, that Tolstoy has kept track of these little threads – and wiothout an Excel spreadsheet to remind him, what’s more!!

  2. Well, I’ve actually reached the end of Book 15 – I’m reading through Epilogue # 1 (Maude). And you’ll be pleased to know that I’m not so pessimistic about Nicolai now. He really pulls him together at the end there.

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