Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Volume III, Book I, Chapters XXII & XXIII


During a large gathering of nobility, a manifesto was read by the sovereign which “evoked raptures”. "...as soon as things touched on the war and what the nobility had assembled for, the talk became indecisive and indefinite".

A naval officer speaks, and the translators made a great choice giving him a Southern American dialect. It works for the “especially resounding, melodious nobleman’s baritone, pleasantly swallowing his r’s and dropping consonants, that voice in which one calls out ‘Youtheah, a pipe!’ and the like.” Love that. He speaks against a militia and for conscription. He calls the sovereign ‘the sovn’.

Pierre takes a moment to say it would be better if the nobility knew what troops were already deployed, and how many, and then could better know what to do if they were given an idea from the Emperor what he needed. He is resoundingly attacked from all sides. He’s told that it’s not their place to do that, and no one can know that information, anyway. These are the moments when you see how much of a monarchy this world exists in. It’s so much like our own, and then the king-idea comes in, and servitude, and the actual world view brims forth. It’s amazing to think what a revolution a revolution was out of this frame of mind. It’s like revolting against god, and people who thought they were. Always amazing to me.

Someone calls Pierre the enemy of mankind. And there’s much shouting amidst the people who are pretending they don’t care.


Here’s where the real monarchy comes in. The sovereign enters and asks the men to raise a militia. The Moscow nobility ‘donates’ ten men per thousand with full equipment. Pierre is swept up, seeing tears in the sovereign’s eyes (having just given a speech to the merchants), and in his zeal donates a thousand men.

“Pierre had no other feeling in that moment except the desire to show that it was nothing at all to him, and he was ready to sacrifice anything….
Old Rostov could not tell his wife what had happened without tears, and at once agreed to Petya’s demand, and went to sign himself up.
The sovereign left the next day. All the assembled noblemen took of their uniforms, planted themselves at home or in the clubs again, and, groaning, gave their stewards orders about the militia, astonished at what they had done.”

Mob patriotism fever. This isn’t to say that some nobles weren’t fighting, but when they talk of donating men, it’s once again clear that they are property-owners, and their property is the serfs. Wow.

End of Book I

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