Reading for Friday, June 12
In a very Tolstoy-like chapter, we get a snapshot inside the heads of all the main characters in the Rostov/Bezuhov household. The most interesting (and moving) of these is Andrei’s son, Nikolai. It’s a strange character, because Andrei (and Tolstoy for that matter) showed no interest in Nikolai for quite a long while, so all of a sudden, to find out that he’s 15 and worships the father he’s never known is quite interesting.
Was anybody else unsurprised that he much prefers Uncle Pierre over Uncle Nikolai? I certainly would . . .
Finally, a description of the ailing Countess Rostova. This could be milked for all its worth and made to be quite sentimental (for some reason, I’m thinking of Sally Field as the dying Mrs Gump . . .) but instead it’s portrayed as the cycle of life. I think we get a bit sheltered from the onset of old age and dementia, because people of that age get shunted off to nursing homes and we don’t have to think about them. So in some ways, it’s quite helpful that Tolstoy shows us that the same youth and beauty which we’ve seen in many different facets in this great novel is just one of our lives – the other end is ailing bodies and ailing minds.