Thursday, July 8, 2010

Volume II, Book IV, Chapter V


Nikolai is waiting for the wolf to come to him. You gotta love Nikolai. He’s standing in the clearing, knowing that something happened and that the wolf possibly will come his way. He’s actually praying that the wolf will come to him, and having whiny thoughts: “I’m always unlucky, in cards, in war, in everything…if only once in my life I could chase down a seasoned wolf, I’d ask for nothing more.”

How old is he again?

The wolf comes soon enough, and we’re given a blow by blow, including Nikolai trying to rouse the oldest dog he has, Karai, to tangle with the wolf. Danilo eventually comes, and heads the wolf off from the woods, and there’s another team as well. Danilo suggests to Nikolai they tie the wolf up (a la Peter and the Wolf) instead of stab him, and Nikolai was about to do.

In the end, they catch 5 wolves – 2 from the hounds, and 3 from the Borzois. The count mentions to Danilo ”You do get angry, though, brother.” That’s the best line.

The chapter is excellent in its breathlessness and action. I looked up a bit about Russian wolf-hunting, and it was a pastime of the artistocracy. Ha- I just accidentally typed “aristocrazy”! I love that. Either way – hunting for sport in their own compound. Nikolai manages to come off not completely as a whiny twit, but it’s clear he’s acting more like an older brother than man of the house, and his posturing is getting clearer. He’s a contrast to Andrei, who is his own man. I don’t know how they’d evolve as brothers-in-law.

Sad about wolves – I guess they’re extinct in the British Isles from hunting and other parts of Europe. Still strong in Russia. They’re really beautiful animals. And you can’t help but wonder at the dogs, who are domesticated wolves, pulling the wolf down. Tolstoy is writing this around the times the serfs are emancipated (1861) – I wonder if this is analogous somehow. I’ll think on that, but good to remember that as a hum in Tolstoy’s world at this point.

It’s a great chapter – or series of them. I just have to wonder if its foreshadowing anything. The capture of the wolf is so detailed. Dolokhov is mentioned as flashing in Nikolai’s mind – perhaps he’s the wolf. He has been before.

No comments:

Post a Comment