Thursday, April 15, 2010

Volume II, Book I, Chapter XI

Okay, quick one. Nearing Christmas, Nikolai is busy visiting everyone and going to many balls.

Sonya basically turns down Dolokhov's proposal, and Nikolai is happy about it, even though he tells Sonya he can't promise anything to her. When he first hears of the proposal he is angry, but Natasha tells hims Sonya refused and would not be persuaded otherwise. And Natasha assumes Nikolai would never marry her, since she has no dowry or connections. He and Sonya have a tender conversation when they pledge love for each other, but he tells her he can make no promises and will love again, though never to the degree and trust he loves her. She says she loves him like a brother and deeply and they don't need to speak of it.

There are some details I love in this one - first the description of love being the atmosphere of the Rostov house, which I hadn't thought about but I guess it is:

Never had the amorous air in the Rostovs' house, the atmosphere of being in love, manifested itself so strongly as during these festive days. "Sieze the moments of happiness, make them love you, fall in love yourself! That is the only real thing in this world - the rest is all nonsense. And that is the one thing we're taken up with here," said this atmosphere.

It makes perfect sense, and it figures with the count and countess and Natasha and Sonya, with the way they greeted Nikolai when he returned. It is the house of love. I suppose Bolkonsky's is the house of a different kind of love - intense, rough, rocky, but still as deep. Don't know why I want to put them in opposition, but I do.

The other thing is that when Nikolai asks if Dolokhov is going to a party he will be attending later, Dolokhov gives him a look like the one he gave Pierre at the club. Nikolai notes it.

He's not a good one, that Dolokhov, and he's wounded, it turns out, from Sonya. This does not bode well for Andrei. Not a nice enemy. And through no fault of his own.

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