Sunday, May 23, 2010

Volume II, Book III, Chapter III

Sorry I missed yesterday - I was out of town. But I am loving what's going on, and glad to be back after that last chapter. I think that scene with Andrei and Natasha is one of my favorite things that's happened so far. It will go on my list of unforgettable moments, along with:

The policeman tied to the bear
Natasha standing up at dinner
The countess asking the count for money
Pierre's mason train exchange
Nikolia's homecoming
Denisov (just in general. I miss him, and not having good feelings about where we left off with him. Dear heaghrt.)
Liza dying and looking at Andrei
Marya's people of god

Wow - there's a lot. I think I could go on for a while at this rate, so I'll cut it short.

I like this chapter, in which Andrei has a turnaround of mind from the last two years and the thoughts that have been obsessing him.

A month after that amazing moment with Natasha, he drives into the country, and looks for the gnarled old cynical oak while he's at it. He can't find it, or rather he does, and it's "transformed, spreading a canopy of juicy, dark greenery" in the evening sun, and "suddenly a causeless feeling of joy and renewal came over him". He decides

"No, like isn't over at the age of thirty's not enough that I know all that's in me, everyone else must know it, too: Pierre, and that girl who wanted to fly into the sky, everyone must know me, so that my life is not only for myself; so that they don't live like that girl, independently of my life, but so that it is reflected in everyone, and they all live together with me!"

Quite a change in mood. He decides to go to Petersburg, and that it's time for him to be useful again. He's obviously coming out of mourning, but Spring and Natasha have obviously awoken something in him. The chapter ends with him chiding Marya for saying Nikolushka can't go for a walk since it's cold. Andrei, interrupted in a reverie, is "dry, stern, resolute and, in particular, unpleasantly logical." He basically tells her "that's why warm clothes were invented and that he needs to be outside.

Tolstoy tells us that this particular logic works as if "punishing someone for all that secret illogical work that was going on inside him. On these occasions Princess Marya reflected on how such mental work dries men up."

Ha. I love that. The brilliance is that even though Andrei has had this turn around he's still Andrei, son of the old count. Yes, he's had a change where he wants to be useful and not throw away his time (we've already been told how much more capable he is than Pierre at management), but he can still be -for want of a better word - a bit of a prick. I do like him a lot, though.

Also, in this chapter, is that great brilliance of following thoughts and emotions. These characters feel deeply, and Andrei in particular feels in a way that it feels as if it will last forever. He makes decisions. He stays in what he's in. I love how the moment changes though, and he's out of the state that he thought he'd been in forever. That change in emotional states - you can see it in Nikolai, too - is beautifully done. Of course, congruent with what's happening in nature as well.

By the way, it's June now.

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