Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Volume III, Book II, Chapters XIII-XV


Rostov and Ilyin, along with Lavrushka (the one who talked with Napoleon), go on a ride from their camp and end up in Bogucharavo, where they hope to find some pretty young women to flirt with.

They arrive just after Marya’s meeting with the peasants. Dunyasha goes out to ask their names, and Alpatych tells them the whole story: that the Princess is stuck there with all the bags packed as the peasants have threatened to unharness the horses and let them go. If she stays they will obey her, but if she tries to leave, they’ll stop her.
Nikolai meets her, and is struck immediately by her nobility and grace. There’s a great moment here about decorum – “With the respectfulness of his tone, Rostov seemed to be showing that, though he would consider himself fortunate to make her acquaintance, he did not want to use the occasion of her misfortune to become closer to her.
Princess Marya understood and appreciated that tone.”

More will be revealed, but I’m pretty certain of what it is. I do love imagining what’s not explicit here – the smell of the grain, the dark hallways of the house in summer with the dresses rustling against the wood floors; the rooms with the small, ornate furniture; the rush of Dunyasha bringing Nikolai into meet the princess.

This book is so great.


Rostov gives the muzhiks a piece of his mind. They’re quarreling among themselves about what just happened. Nikolai walks up and starts calling them traitors and asking for people to be bound. When he calls for Dron, two of the other peasants actually come up and hold his hands behind him. He tells them to get to their houses, and help load the carts, and within two hours everything’s ready. They’re even worried about damaging her nice things. I don’t know if it’s a lot to believe, or if it’s just not something I have experience in, but he does make the peasants seem simple-ish. I guess they would be used to a male authority figure, and any rebellion would obviously not be organized or able to stand up to the existing hierarchy. Certainly this one folded quickly.

Rostov doesn’t see the princess in her house, but does ride with her to an inn along the way and allows himself to kiss her hand when he leaves. She is smitten, and realizes she may be falling in love. He feels the same, but gets angry thinking about her wealth and being teased, let alone the promise he made to Sonya. It would, though, solve his family’s problems, as well as make both him and Marya happy (if not Sonya). It seems pretty clear he feels it, too, though. Ah, romance.


Andrei goes to Tsarevo – Zaimishche to see Kutuzov. I love that town name – probably because it ends in ish-che, which just sounds really Russian to me. Everyone calls Kutuzov “his serenity”. That’s a great detail.

And guess what? Denisov’s back! He’s there to talk to Kutuzov about a battle plan. He makes Andrei think of that long ago time with Natasha, and how Denisov was in love with her.

Kutuzov arrives, and takes Andrei and Denisov with him. He tiredly listens to Denisov’s plan:

Everything Denisov has said was practical and intelligent. What the general on duty was saying was still more practical and intelligent, but it was obvious that Kutuzov depsied both knowledge and intelligence, and knew something else that was to decide the matter – something that did not depend on intelligence and knowledge…it was obvious that Kutuzov despised the intelligence, knowledge, and even the patriotic feelings shown by Denisov, but he despised them not with his intelligence, feelings, or knowledge (for he did not even try to show any), he despised them with something else. He despised them with his old age, with his experience of life.

He tells the general that he can’t do anything about looting, since if you allow it or not it doesn’t matter. “Oh, German scrupulosity!” he says. Supposedly the Russians called all foreigners “Germans”. But either way, Kuzutov is old enough to know what he can and can’t do.

Interesting chapter. Glad to see Denisov is back and afire again. He’s one of my favorites, and I love his speech impediment thing. Yay.

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