Reading for Tuesday, 24 March

This chapter is mainly descriptive of Nikolai’s visit to Marya, but what a description . . .

Every other time she’s been described in this book, Tolstoy has constantly used descriptions that paint her as being quite plain-looking and completely submissive to her father.

But now, as she is now free, she is completely transformed. If I was to quote one particular part that sums it up, it’s the line:

Mademoiselle Bourienne, who was in the darwing-room, gazed at Princess Marya with bewildered surprise. The most accomplished coquette herself, she could not have manoeuvred better on meeting a man whom she wanted to attract.

The same inner strength that Marya drew on for coping with the hard times is now transformed into something highly attractive to Nikolai. Now he just needs to sort out the Sonya dilemma . . .

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 12.6 – Marya Transformed

  1. It was nice to see Tolstoy allowing this character to bloom; but that’s not surprising. Once the father was gone, she surprised even herself. She’s got a lot more to herself than we imagined.

    Good character development with this individual.

  2. I’m not sure I saw Mlle Bourienne’s observation in quite the same way that you did, Matt – I think I saw it more as a reflection on how she viewed things, than on a change in Marya herself. But, still, there is little doubt that Marya has grown and developed here – but I don’t think in the almost controlling, contrived way that Mlle Bourienne sees, but in a way that is almost imperceptible to herself and which is, ultimately, a blossoming of what is already within her anyway. So for Marya this new beauty is something that has grown from within her – but for Mlle Bourienne it will always be something that is practised, studied and performed.

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