Reading for Wednesday, 25 March

And here we have more descriptions of Princess Marya, this time at church.

But the real highlight of this chapter is when Nikolai, desperate to work out his women situation, decides to pray. (And not a silly prayer this time, he tells himself, like when we were kids and we prayed for snow to turn into sugar. . .)

And lo and behold, he gets a fateful letter from Sonya. How nice of her just to give in like that and let Nikolai go. Well, that’s all settled . . . Or is it?

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 12.7 – An Answered Prayer

  1. One of the girls on Reading Group Guides explained to me that Sonya was a real character in Tolstoy’s life – she was an ‘aunt’ in the family – or a cousin – something like that. She lived in his parents’ household for years and just made herself useful – I also heard her described as becoming ‘the family cat’.

    Sonya doesn’t really seem to have much depth in her feelings – we never seem to get much of her own personal views.

    So many characters in W & P are intriguing enough that it makes me want to write little stories about them, just to make them come alive in some way. I’ve already tried a couple of them. Might do some more.

  2. I agree with you totally, Carly, about the characters of War and Peace and how we feel that we could almost imagine other stories about them – almost imagine, indeed, what they might be doing behind the scenes, in the bits that Tolstoy doesn’t describe for us. It’s a great writer who can create so many characters for us with such humanity – that we could almost imagine recognising them if we were to meet them and have a conversation with them.

    The thing about Nikolai’s prayer that struck me, though, was the way that he seems almost always to have prayed for the things that he wants. Of course, he himself remembers doing this as a child when he wanted the snow to turn to sugar; but we might also remember him doing it, not so long ago, when on the hunt he prayed for the wolf to turn in his direction. Now, of course, he think he is praying for something much more serious – and in a way he is, obviosuly – but he’s still seeing prayer as a means of getting what he has already decided he wants. That’s not how Marya would have prayed, and that, I assume, is what Tolstoy is getting at when he tells us how Nikolai saw in her a spiritual richness that he lacked so much in himself.

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