Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Volume I, Part II, Chapter XIX

Oh, no. This is not good. Zherkov is sent back to warn the left flank to retreat, but is too scared to get close and so there are no orders given. Worse, a Colonel and a General of that flank are disagreeing as to what to do, and it's clear it's a pissing contest. While they are daring each other and arguing, they are attacked.

Sadly, this is the unit with Nikolai and Denisov (remember him - the drunken one we like who has the jet black hair and pronounces his r's with a gh?). Nikolai is shot, and there's a beautiful section of his confusion about what is happening as his horse is shot out from beneath him, and he himself discovers he is shot. He is thinking at the outset of glory, but then thinks of survival:

He seized his pistol and, instead of firing it, threw it at the Frenchman, and ran for the bushes as fast as he could. He ran not with the feeling of doubt and conflict with which he had gone to the Enns bridge, but with the feeling of a hare escaping from hounds.

He crouches and misses as the French fire at him, which is flabbergasting as he thought he would have been captured. He barely makes into bushes where he finds Russian artillerymen, but his left arm is definitely wounded if not lost.

Oh, boy, spending all this time with these people has made me kind of fond of them. I have an awful feeling more will die. I'm sure they will. It's beautiful writing, but I bet it will be heartbreaking. That became clear when I thought Nikolai was going to die. Not yet....

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