Reading for Thursday, 2 April

This chapter and the next one are extraodinary writing. The funny thing about dying is that you never really come back from it to tell about what it was like, and so we can’t really know exactly the thoughts that run through somebody’s head as they prepare for their final moments. And I’m sure it’s different for everybody.

But Tolstoy’s portrayal of Andrei’s last days feels like the real deal. He describes Andrei as no longer interested in this world at all, but making an effort to interact with everyone. It terrifies Natasha and Marya that he so clearly isn’t with them any more.

I think what makes this effective is that Tolstoy gives us both sides of the story. We understand Natasha and Marya’s grief that Andrei has given up the will to live.

But from Andrei’s point of view, he’s quite calm about the whole thing. Especially when we get to the next chapter . . .


2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 12.15 – Letting Go Of Life

  1. Yes, Matt … this chapter, and the next, truly show us some amazing writing. In this capter, in particular, we get such a strong sense of these two very different worlds – the one into which Andrei is drifting, and the one from which he is departing and in which Natasha and Marya still stand. They are a gulf apart, and yet, it seems, there is a part of Andrei in each, and it is just so beautifully and gently portrayed here – the sadness and the peacefulness of dying.

    But I think, for me, the most moving bit of all in this chapter was the description of Andrei’s little son, and his child-like, but profound, comprehension of it all. It was just so simply written … and there was something, too, about his connection with Natasha that just made so much sense here. The innocent and child-like way in which both Natasha and little Nikolushka live their lives could hardly be more far removed from the serious, cynicism with which which Andrei experienced his life – and yet now, as he leaves all of that behind, it seems he is at last able to have the relationship with his son and with Natasha that he was never able to have until now, when he is dying.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s