Wednesday, 31 August 2011

War and Peace: Book Nine

Spoilers below.

Prince Andrew goes to Petersburg to look for a reason to challenge Anatole, but the latter has gone to Turkey. So Prince Andrew goes there only to find that Anatole has gone back to Russia.

Napoleon and his troops enter Russian soil. Emperor Alexander sends a letter asking him to remove his troops. Alexander’s adjutant tries to get Napoleon to agree so that they can continue the peace talks, but he refuses. We are given a lot of opinions about the impending war from random people in the Russian camp.

The war is on.

Rostov is back out in battle, but is starting to get disillusioned.

Natasha is depressed, so her mother and Petya go to Moscow to be with her. She is beginning to take comfort in religion.

Pierre is secretly in love with Natasha.

Petya wants to join the army.

This chapter was really dull, mostly due to all these random people’s opinions on the war, Napoleon and Emperor Alexander. I don’t understand why we are given all this information in such detail. This is where I would have liked an editor to just ask Tolstoy to cut it out – and by that I mean delete all the opinions and people, not stop.

Or maybe I meant stop.

There’s a point where Natasha goes to church and Tolstoy writes out his sermon, and I’m thinking for why? Couldn’t he just have said that Natasha is moved by it? Why all the words? Or when Petya runs off to see the Emperor. There’s just so much stuff that I don’t want or need or understand.

And the names, the names, the names – oh my word, all these names.

I do love me some Tolstoy, but this ‘book’ was full of too much – everything was just too much. Now, what I did like (what I always like) is Tolstoy’s observations on human nature and his penchant for thinly veiled insults. I mean, this:

“Pfuel was one of those hopelessly and immutably self-confident men, self-confident to the point of martyrdom as only Germans are, because only Germans are self-confident on the basis of an abstract notion – science, that is, the supposed knowledge of absolute truth. A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally, both in mind and body, as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured, as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world, and therefore as an Englishman always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German's self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth – science – which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.” - p. 505

It’s for little quips like that that I put up with all the dull opinions of people I haven’t the slightest interest in.

I’m more than halfway through, 56% to be exact, and although this chapter was a bore, I’m still eager to find out how it’s all going to end. However, I’ve now completely lost interest in the war (because every time it’s brought up it’s in the form of all these opinions) and somehow most of the characters are getting a tad whiny. Hopefully this was just a temporary glitch and we’ll be back to business as usual from this point forward.

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