Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Volume I, Book II, Chapter IV

Ach, mehr Kapitel. Ah so, jetzt im Deutsch. Cuz now we're in Germany. And I found out more of what a hussar is, since it was confusing how it was being used for soldiers who I didn't think were either fancily dressed or Hungarian. Horseriders! Thanks to Wikipedia, I learned all about it (or as much as I was willing to skim).

So the chapter opens with Nikolai (Rostov, remember him?) dismounting his horse and going into the house he shares with the squadron commander Captain Denisov (Vasya). It's the same day, October 8th, as the defeat of Mack in the last chapter. But what with no internet and only horses, it's not clear news of the defeat has gotten to them. Nikolai is in a good mood after a nice ride. He has a nice German exchange with a German farmer - everyone loves Nikiolai. Great passage:

Though there was no particular reason for rejoicing either for the German, who was cleaning his cowshed, or for Rostov, who had gone for hay with his section, the two men looked at each other with happy delight and brotherly love, shook their heads as a sign of mutual love, and smiling, went their way--"

He's a junker, but still a Count, and is treated as such. Denisov has not returned from his night gambling, which according to his lackey means that he did poorly. He comes in, and is a bit of a comedy from the get go. He's a small man with a red face, shining black eyes, and disheveled black mustaches and hair. He's gloomy for losing, and T does this great accent thing, since he swallows his r's: "Ah, ghreally! And I blew eveghrything last night, bghrother, like a son of a bitch...Such bad luck!....As soon as you left, it staghrted." I just find that entertaining. He calls Rostov "Dear heaghrt." And he says things like "Ghrubbish!" Hee.

Vasya gives Rostov his money to put under his pillow, and Rostov does while the Lieutenant no one likes comes over, who is called Telyanin. T describes him as behaving very well "but he was not liked, and Rostov especially could neither overcome nor conceal his causeless loathing for the man." [There seem to be certain characters who are just dis-likable from the start, like the Rostov's elder daughter, and he's just one of those characters. I can't even remember her name. Yikes, it really is time for a scorecard--you just know she's reappearing.]

Anyway, Telyanin comes in, leaves with Nikolai to show him how to shoe a horse he bought from Telyanin for too much money, and then leaves. Vasya looks for his money that Nikolai put under his pillow but can't find it. Vasya starts attacking his valet, but it occurs to Nikolai that Telyanin is the only who could have done it. He rides two miles to where he is, asks for his purse, and accuses him of stealing the money. IT's all very rash and exciting. And true. At first Telyanin denies it, but it becomes clear it's true. He crumples.

Rostov took the money, avoiding Telyanin's eyes, and, not saying a word, started out of the room. But at the door he stopped and came back.
'My God,' he said, with tears in his eyes,'how could you have done it?'
"Count...'said Telyanin, going up to the junker.
'DOn't touch me,' said Rostov, drawing back. 'If you need the money, take it.' He flung the purse at him and ran out of the tavern.


So Telyanin's a thief, Vasya's a drunk and gambler, and Nikolai is our fine, upstanding. That's what I get from this chapter. Nikolai will undoubtedly learn something from this. He's proud and young. I hope this entire book is not a fall from innocence for everyone involved. It's probably not, since T's too smart for this and the palette is too large, but this chapter felt like a silent film. A good one, but melodrama. But it's great - I like the social dramas a bit more than military strategy and he has great characters.

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