Thursday, May 13, 2010

Volume II, Book II, Chapter XVIII

Oh, sad. Rostov goes to the officers' ward, and there he first meets Tushin, who is now missing an arm and rooming with Denisov. Nikolai visits Denisov, who is not in good shape - "His wound, despite its insignificance, still had not healed, though now it was six weeks since he was wounded...what struck him was the Denisov did not seem glad to see him and smiled at him unnaturally. Denisov did not ask about the regiment, nor about the general course of affairs. When Rostov mentioned it, Denisov did not listen."

He is definitely resentful of his situation, and holding on to his anger. He tells his story, which clears the room. He's holding onto a letter he reads to Nikolai, refuting his charges, and angry about the suggestion that he beg the sovereign for mercy.

"For what? If I were a ghrobber, I'd ask for meghrcy, but I'm on tghrial because I beghrout the ghrobbers to light. Let them take me to court, I'm not afghraid of anybody; I've seghrved the tsar and the fatherland honoghrably, and didn't steal!"

Nikolai wants to help him, and spends the day with him. At the last moment, right before leaving, Denisov gives Nikolai an envelope, and in it is a letter to the sovereign, not mentioning anyone else's failure. He hands it to Nikolai with a "painfully false smile"

So sad for him. He's just broken. I'm still hoping for good things for him. It's so nuanced - Tolstoy gives these tragedies, little small changes or points of view that lead the way to unknown and possibly painful places. Not to mention the awful vividness of the surroundings. We're lucky in this time and place. He really brings you back to the helplessness and inhumanity of both war and the time.

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