Reading for Friday, June 5

And so at last Pierre and Natasha are married. Oddly enough, the wedding is almost an incidental event in this chapter (despite the long build up – we’ve been waiting almost the entire novel for this!).

Instead, it’s the decline of the Rostovs that we witness. Old Count Rostov dies from depression and the guilt that he squandered the family fortune. Then we’re left with Nikolai trying to pay off the family debts and gradually finding himself in trouble as well.

But possibly the darkest moment in this chapter is his relationships with Sonya. From one of the most innocent of friendships at the beginning of the book, there’s nothing there now. We kind of expected this, but it does seem a bit hard on Sonya. Still, there’s a few more chapters to go – something might work out for him.

In the meantime, while you’re waiting for the next post, I’m going to post up this YouTube – it’s not really a video, but it’s the only place in the world where you can currently hear this amazing performance by Marc-Andre Hamelin and the Tonhalle Orchestra of Switzerland of the Piano Concerto by Ferrucio Busoni. It’s an obscure piece of music, but it’s completely epic. It’s in eight parts and runs for more than an hour (and what piano concerto runs for more than an hour?), so we’ll just do it in parts. Here’s Part One:

2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace E1.5 – The Decline of the Rostovs

  1. Yes, there’s something just so Tolstoyan here about the way this marriage, so anticipated, is just dismissed in a couple of lines – and even there, it’s only mentioned as the ast happy event in the Rostov family – not as something in itself, but the end of something. And the picture of the Rostov family decline is certainly a sad one … this family, so alive with good-hearted love and joy, now touched so harshly by loss. I, too, found Nikolai’s coldness towards Natasha pretty gruelling – but I think, even harder than that for me, was the way that the family’s sadness and hardship has just become the new routine for them – it’s as if sadness is running almost unnoticed through their veins, just as happiness once did.

    As for the Busoni – I must confess that I have never heard it, nor really taken much notice of Busoni at all. It is certainly a sumptuous, rich, romantic sound. Looking forward to heaing more!!

    By the way, I noticed – slightly to my horror – after reading today’s chapter (still to the dogs, by the way!!) there are now only two left. That makes Sunday the final curtain. I’m kind of glad, Matt, that your blog is a little behind – sort of keeps the whole thing going for just a bit longer.

  2. Well, I couldn’t seem to bring the music in. My computer didn’t seem to want to move on it.

    This bothered me all through the book – how he kept Sonya hung up on him all that time – it’s too late for her to get anybody else now. In that particular time and place, that is.

    Yeah – I feel that way too . . . sort of keeps War and Peace going for a while. But we do have to finish at the end of the month, don’t we?

    Don’t we?


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