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 . . .