Monday, April 19, 2010

Volume II, Book I, Chapter XV

Oh, the healing power of music. Nikolai returns home, with Sonya and Natasha watching Denisov play piano and sing; the Countess playing patience with an older woman; Vera and Shinshin playing chess. He is guilty for coming in on such a warm domestic scene.

His mother calls him over saying "Coco, you're home, come here to me, my dearest." At which point I thought, huh, so that's what Coco would be a diminutive of. Cute.

Sonya and Natasha can tell something is wrong. Natasha ignores it, but Sonya asks with her eyes. There's much in Nikolai's head, too, of wondering what it all means and feeling bereft.

Then, Natasha comes into the middle of the room to sing. At first, he wonders how she can do this so unashamedly, and then from her lips composed into a smile sounds poured forth, sounds that anyone can produce for the same length of time, at the same intervals, but which leave on cold a thousand times, then for the thousand and first time make one tremble and weep.

Natasha's voice has begun to mature, and though in need of training is wonderful to anyone who hears it. Nikolai is deeply affected:

"All this misfortune, and money, and Dolokhov, and spite, and honor--it's all nonsense...and here is--the real thing...Ah, Natasha, ah darling! ah, dearest....How is she going to take this B...She did it? Thank God!" And without noticing it, he himself was singing so as to strengthen that B, taking the second voice a third below the high note. "My God! how beautiful! Did I sing that? What happiness!" he thought.
Oh, how that third had vibrated, and how was something that was best in Rostov's soul. And that something was independent of anything in the world and higher than anything in the world. What are gambling losses, and Dolokhovs, and words of honor!...It's all nonsense! ONe can kill, and steal, and still be happy....

Well, the healing power of music. It's kind of wonderful for him to feel this, and I love the way T envokes the healing warmth of home for Nikolai. The Rostov's have the warmest home in the book so far. They feel like the heart of it for me at the moment.

Nikolai's chat with his father must be coming up soon, though. There's so much melodrama, but I find it hard sometimes to just stay reading one chapter a day. I can't wait to see what happens!

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