Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Volume II, Book I, Chapter XVI

The long and the short of it is:

Nikolai asks his father for the money to pay Dolokhov, at first trying to seem insouciant at his loss but only managing to sound callous, which only causes him to burst into tears and chase after his father.

Denisov (pooghr Denisov), proposes to Natasha, which is a superlatively bad idea. The countess is somewhat offended and annoyed, while Natasha is flattered but pitying. Bad combination. Denisov leaves.

It takes the count two weeks to raise the 43,000 for Nikolai to pay Dolokhov (who I hope chokes on it) and then Nikolai goes back to the front. Sonya is more in love with him than ever, but he feels unworthy.

Lessons here - don't gamble; don't ask young girls to marry. One would think these truths would be self-evident, but they're not. On the whole though, Nikolai seems more human because of this, and we see who Dolokhov is. Denisov, some kind of adorable drunk, just seems destined to be that diminutive man who everyone loves, but no one does in a special way he'd like.

It's interesting here, as I imagine we'll see a little more of Andrei or Pierre after this, that we're seeing them grow-up. Andrei is a bit older, but still so proud, but war and loss are tempering their fire. Or perhaps the fire in which they're being tempered. The world is less absolute, and though romantic still in that 18th/19th century way, realism and compromise are setting in.

43,000 roubles. Current roubles into dollars would be about $1475 dollars, but in 1865 money that would be about $20,000. Whichever it is, it would be a lot to lose.

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