Sunday, July 11, 2010

Volume II, Book IV, Chapter VI

This is a long one, all about hunting again.

Nikolai and Natasha are still out. Nikolai sees a fox, run over by other hunters, and sees his hunstman get in a fight with another.  It turns out he is with a rival landowner Ilagin.  Nikolai is ready to be angry (and Tolstoy says that in his way without any other information Nikolai takes all on the words of others).  Instead, Ilagin is a nice, courteous man, who suggests they all hunt together.  Nikolai then notices a nice dog Ilagin has.  Ilagin notices his Mitenka.  T lets us know that Ilagin, though playing her off, gave his neighbor three families of house serfs for the dog the year before.  Isn't that nice?

The men, of course, can't wait to see a rabbit, and watch as their dogs try to get it, each rooting for his own hound.  They are not impartial as they say.  In the end, Nikolai's uncle's dog wins.  So neither of the owner's dogs do, and this man who is not a nobleman's dog does (I don't think he's an actual uncle, but that's unclear to me).  Either way, the two pompous ones end with their tails between their legs.

The great moment for me in this chapter is Natasha's shriek right after the drama of which dog, if any, would capture the hare.

"At the same time, Natasha, without pausing for a breath, let out a joyful and rapturous shriek, so that shrill that it made their ears ring.  With this shriek she expressed everything the other hunters had expressed with their simultaneous talk.  And this shriek was so odd that she herself would have been embarrassed at such wild shrieking, and they all would have been surprised at it, if it happened at any other time."
What an odd, thing, huh?  Natasha is so excitable, yet it's a perfect gesture. He's been building this pressure for the last few chapters, and gives it to her to release.  It's a great moment.

As is the shaming somewhat of the nobleman.  It is upsetting to my sensibility that anyone would have traded several humans for a dog, but that was the currency was.  Still is, in some parts of the world, but that's another story.

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