This is another chapter that really has to be experienced for itself. It’s another variation on Tolstoy’s “eve of battle” chapters we’ve seen throughout the book. Different characters in the book approach upcoming conflict in different ways.

Kutuzov stands back and lets fate take its own course. Andrei (though he changed a few times) tends to get introverted and miserable.

And here’s Petya, thinking the world is a fairyland. And for a couple of pages it is.

The question is, what happens when the sun comes up? We’ll see tomorrow.

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 14.10 – Fairyland

  1. This really was beautiful writing in this chapter – quite unlike anything else we’ve read so far, with the world getting transformed into Petya’s fairyland. And, as you point out, Matt, how different Petya’s world is on the eve of a battle than that of Kutuzov or Andrei or even Nikolai. There was, for me, something unexpected about Petya’s dreams here – I would almost have expected him, just like his brother, to be imagining the noble glories to which he would rise, especially after all we have seen of him so far, and his rapturous excitement for the battle … and yet, instead, he imagines caves going to the centre of the earth, eyes of monsters, and a vast harmony of sounds responding to his will. It was, I thought, a master-stroke from Tolstoy to present this side of Petya to us – showing us, I felt, that it is not a lust for battle, but a romantic lust for life, that really drives Petya.

    As a little aside, this chapter has, according to the Pevear/Volokhonsky introduction, the shortest sentence in all of War and Peace: “Kapli kapali” in Russian and, so P/V claim, translated only by them in true loyalty to the original … “Drops dripped”. This chapter is, in any case, beautifully and poetically translated in Pevear and Volokhonsky.

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