Friday, 19 August 2011

War and Peace: Books Four and Five

Obviously, these little write ups are full of spoilers. I haven’t mentioned it before, but there. I said it now.

Book Four:

So, Nicholas Rostov returns home with Denisov. He promises his sister Natasha that he will honour his promise to marry Sonya, yet he doesn’t feel ready yet and wants to live.

Helene is cheating on Pierre with Dolokhov.

The old Prince Rostov throws a dinner party where Pierre challenges Dolokhov to a duel. Pierre shoots him, separates from his wife and runs off to St Petersburg.

Prince Andrew returns home (after everyone thinking he’s dead) in time for the birth of his son, but his wife dies during labour.

Dolokhov recovers from being shot.

Nicholas Rostov is made adjunct.

Dolokhov falls in love with Sonya and asks her to marry him, but she refuses. She’s in love with Nicholas. Dolokhov beats Nicholas at cards and the latter has to ask his father to help pay the debt of 43 thousand roubles.

The soldiers go back to war.

Book Five:

Pierre meets Freemason Bazdeev at the station, and when he gets to Petersburg joins the order. Prince Vasili comes to Petersburg to urge Pierre to reconcile with his daughter, but Pierre tells him to go and moves to his estates in Kiev. Society again turns on Pierre.

Boris is now an aide-de-camp and upon returning to Petersburg becomes “an intimate” at Helene’s house (she moves back to Petersburg, obviously).

The old Prince Bolkonski is made commander in chief and Prince Andrew takes a position as marshal under his father so that he doesn’t have to go back into battle. He moves out of his father’s house, although his son remains there being taken care of by Princess Maria.

The soldiers at war are starving, so Denisov steals provisions from the infantry. On his way to trial for the theft he is shot in the leg and sent to hospital. Nicholas Rostov visits him and is asked to take a petition to the Emperor on Denisov’s behalf. He does that by going to Boris, who is now associating with the French, much to Nicholas Rostov’s displeasure, he tries to get the letter to the Emperor by other means.

The preliminaries of peace are signed by Emperor Alexander and Napoleon.

And that marks the end of the first volume, spanning from 1805 – 1808.

I have so many thoughts floating around in my head that I don’t really know what to do with. I’m seriously rooting for Prince Andrew. There’s a point where he and Pierre talk about life and how to best conduct it that was really poignant, and made me change my previous view of him completely. He’s obviously a changed man after his failure at war and the death of his wife, but this

"I only know two very real evils in life: remorse and illness. The only good is the absence of those evils. To live for myself avoiding those two evils is my whole philosophy now." – p. 299

And then Pierre chimes in with his Freemasonic beliefs. I do feel a bit sorry for Pierre, who is once again being taken advantage of by pretty much everyone, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen to him (and his wife) in the future.

So yeah, I’m obviously still enjoying it. There are a few instances of Tolstoy focusing on things and people that have nothing to do with the plot, and I could do without that. I like his observations on Russians and Russian life in general – as well as his commentaries on military life.

I’ve read 34% - and enjoyed pretty much all of it, thus far.

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