Reading for Monday, 13 April

As we switch back to Pierre, we have another reminder that despite what goes on at the top levels of things, interactions between humans are far more complex and apolitical than we realise.

Here Pierre has started to gain respect and friendship with the French, and we finish with the French officer’s act of kindness to Platon, as he lets him keep some extra material.

I called this a vignette in the title – but really, that’s devaluing what this is. This is the heart of War and Peace – it’s individuals making choices that contribute towards good things, not bad things. These individuals choices – for kindness or unkindness – drive history.

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3 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 13.11 – A Vignette of Kindness

  1. Well, whether the word “vignette” is appropriate or not, this certainly was a wonderful little moment of almost dosmetic intimacy, with that really beautiful moment of human kindness towards the end – all of which worked, at least for me, to give a sense of hope admidst all the gloom. Doing this chapter-to-a-day thing really has been a terrific way of bringing home just how powerfully and effectively Tolstoy does this continual shift from the forest to the trees. It was a heart warming chapter, just when we needed it the most.

  2. And speaking of individuals’ choices, we see that in the way that soldiers, at times, just went ahead and followed their own hearts and minds – in the midst of the battles, we often saw them ignoring orders – which were haphazard and misconstrued anyway – and barging into places with no instructions whatsoever. Sometimes it worked out – sometimes it didn’t. So it isn’t necessarily the military leaders that can take credit (or debit) from the outcomes of battles.

    Just the same, even if the generals have done nothing more than look after their running noses, they still collect their medals at the end of it all.

    (Not sure if this has happened yet, in the part of the book we’re discussing now).

  3. I was struck by the Frenchman being embarrassed in front of the prisoners. Here again, the enemy has gained some humanity.

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