Monday, July 26, 2010

Volume II, Part V, Chapter I

There's a lot to this one. I'm heading to bed, so I'll follow up on this. Great things said in this chapter, and almost too much to quote, but an amazing paragraph about people deceiving themselves. We're back with Pierre, and he's disillusioned, but unable to do much but drink, and keep himself busy. He's not doing well.

Pierr is becoming an old "gentleman-in-waiting" in Moscow, just being at parties, beloved by everyone for his wit and his wallet. He has moved into his house in Moscow with the "dried-and drying-up princesses" since for him "Moscow was comfortable, warm habitual, and dirty, like an old dressing gown."

It's such a deft portrayal of someone falling into a rut of drinking and loss. There's a long paragraph I won't retype here that just catalogs the counter-intuitiveness of thought and action of everyone around him, from finding his wife witty and charming while he knows she's "never loved anything except her own body, and is one of the stupidest women in the world" to Napoleon, to the outward appearance of piety and giving of his Masonic brothers who will not give to their own community or poor. He sees a Christian law that everyone gives lip service to but no one follows - a universally acknowledged lie.

"He experienced the unfortunate ability of many people, escpecially Russians--the ability to see and believe in the possibility of goodness and truth, and to see the evil and falsehood of life too clearly to be able to participate in it seriously."

So he keeps busy, and he drinks - "Nothing is either trivial or important, it's all the same; only save yourself from it as best you can!" thought Pierre. "Only not to see it, that dreadful it!"

He's putting it off, to think about it later, while it destroys him now. Not a good place, this one.

I love that he puts in "especially Russians". He knows his audience. I'm quarter Ukranian/Hungarian Jew and quarter Russian Jew. I wonder if that counts? Certainly, for this world view, it may. It sounds awfully familiar...

One day, we keep hoping for Pierre, one day.

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