Thursday, April 29, 2010

Volume II, Book II, Chapter IX

The majority of this chapter is a letter from Bilibin to Andrei. In French. So glad for footnotes.

The letter is long, but basically shows how messed up things are – in-fighting amongst the Russian generals; the Prussian king playing both sides; the lack of supplies; lying about victories when they’re really retreats.

When Andrei is finished reading, he has a twinge about how much it can effect him. He looks up and the nurse is hiding something. He thinks his son has died, so he rushes to the cradle to find him sleeping. He feels his forehead with his lips and sees he’s sweaty but the fever has broken. Marya comes in by him. It’s very tender. The three of them are in a tableau under the canopy. Tolstoy says they “shake their fingers at each other”, which I’m not sure of, but think may be fake scolding each other?

Either way, Andrei feels its more important for him to be at home, and the moment with his son seals it. It’s a beautiful scene after this ridiculous description of war.

I’m not getting into that all the main characters are nobles, and we’re to empathize with their plight, even though they had serfs at this point as well. It’s an irony we can see historically I suppose. What of that nurse in the scene? Who is she? All these characters are complex, rich, and then can be awful to servants. It's a complicated relationship - we saw that with the older Rostov. But I’ll concern myself for the moment with Andrei, Nikolai and Pierre. I have a feeling he’s off to war again at some point, but he is sure his father’s son.

Prince Andrei was the first to leave the crib, his hair tangling in the muslin of the canopy. "Yes, this is the one thing left to me now, " he said with a sigh.

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