Reading for Sunday, June 14

I think this chapter is where the famous quote that opens the Bondarchuk movie comes from, but I’m not sure because my translation was not that good. You realise also that it’s taken a bit out of context as well.

At the opening of the film, the line about good men joining together to oppose evil sounds like a really noble thing. But in this context, it’s more Pierre thinking of a society that uprises against corruption in government and a weak Tsar. (Which, according to my endnotes, was to happen in 1825.)

Politics aside, this most unusual epilogue (which reads like a continuation of the novel, and doesn’t at all feel like it’s wrapping things up) showing us Nikolai and Pierre’s disagreement, and young Nikolai Bolkonsky’s desperate urge to cling on to something that reminds him of his father – anything at all.

I wonder if it’s young Nikolai’s relation to Andrei that makes Nikolai Rostov irritated with him?

One thought on “One-Year War and Peace E1.14 – Debates

  1. Actually, Matt, we’re not quite yet at the quote from the Bndarchuk movie – but we’re clearly setting the stage for it. But, as for you, this chapter reminded me of that quote and led me to think that we really are now getting to the pointy end in terms of Tolstoy, through Pierre, telling us what he thinks about life, and about how people change it. But as for Nikolai’s irritation with this – maybe it is to some degree a personal thing, as you say, but I guess, too, it’s indicative of the clash of ideologies that is represented in Pierre and Nikolai. Nikolai has always been the ardent patriot and, in that sense, a kind of voice for the old world, which was represented ultiumately by Alexander. But Pierre is the idealist … always searching for truth, and ultimatey finding it in simple things, as did in his encounter with Karataev, not in the established order of things, to which Nikolai still holds so closely and so dearly. But I think the most powerful bit of all in this chapter, for me, was the young Nikolenka, and his almost desperate plea that his father would have sided with Pierre. I’m not sure why I found that to be so powerful and moving … but I think it had something to do with the way that, out of the blue, this pale, frail young man has somehow become the symbol of the future, the voice of what will go on after all the Pierres and Nikolais and Denisovs have gone. I might be being a little over-zealous in reading meaning into this scene – but, still, to me it was like the future tentatively picking Pierre’s idealism, rather than Nikolai’s conservatism, as its champion.

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