The traveler opens his eyes and speaks to Pierre.
Pierre asks if he’s a Mason, seeing his ring. And yes, he is. (as aside: he calls the symbol a “death’s head” – a skull – which is a Masonic sign, I guess – I could only find the one with the compass, ruler, and letter G on the web, so no picture)
This starts the stranger telling him about his own views. Pierre tells him he doesn’t believe in God, and that starts the man off. He says things like “why would we be talking about him if he didn’t exist?” Circular, and irrefutable in its way. Pierre is susceptible.
Pierre is taken in. ”Whether he believed those reasonable arguments in the Mason’s speech, or believed, as children to, the intonations, convictions, and heartfelt emotion in the Mason’s speech, the trembling of his voice, which sometimes almost interrupted him…or the calmness, firmness and knowledge of purpose which shone in the Mason’s whole being and which struck him especially strongly, compared with his own slackness and hopelessness, in any case he wanted to believe with his whole soul, and did believe, and experienced a joyful feeling of peace, renewal, and return to life”
Well, that just makes it sound easy, doesn’t it?
Pierre does tell the man he hates his life, and the Mason responds that of course, he has been given money and done nothing with it; a wife and wasted that opportunity. That he has lived a “debauched life”.
The man begins to leave and gives Pierre a card for someone to see in Petersburg, a Count Willarski. We also learn the man’s name is Osip Alexeevich Bazdeev. He gives Pierre hope in believing there is a brotherhood for good, and he is forgotten how good it feels to be virtuous.
The religiosity in this chapter was a little disconcerting, but I suppose the process of watching anyone be converted is. Pierre is at a low point, so he is certainly susceptible. I don’t know much about the Masons, though they have a long history. It does feel like he’s being acculturated, but I suppose it is giving him a sense of purpose, which he desperately needs. It’s feels a little cult-y, but it’s the god-talk, which can be off-putting. Pierre certainly needs it.
I started researching Masonry, but it’s way too extensive to get in a glance. I’m sure it will pop back up, so I’ll try to do some footwork and see what I can come up with.
But good for Pierre. Buck up, little soldier.
6 months ago