Let’s Read This Thing : War and Peace is my attempt to jot down notes and reactions to this monstrous novel that I’m reading for the first time. Spoilers may happen, but what’s the statute of limitations on spoilers anyway? It was published in 1869…
While Part 1 gave us society drama and Part 2 threw us into combat, Part 3 gives us a hefty dose of both!
It begins by hammering home the concept that just because you aren’t on a battlefield doesn’t mean you aren’t in a fight.
Poor Pierre, poor… poor Pierre. He’s being preyed upon by wolves who strategize and manipulate and ultimately get exactly what they want. And after they sink their teeth into him they move on to the Bolkonsky family, who are luckily steadfast enough to refuse the Kuragin marriage plot juggernaut.
What stood out to me in these chapters is an emphasis on family and on personal conviction. Pierre is all alone and doesn’t yet know who he is or what he is expected to be. He is so overjoyed to have a pretty girl speak to him that he enters a wedding through nearly no choice of his own. Marya, on the other hand, is strong in her faith and in her relationship with her family. She has a father who wants her to stay with him and who is clearly not a fan of Vassily and his brood, but who trusts his daughter enough to make her own choices. Marya is able to give the firm and adamant refusal that Pierre was never even offered.
After a marriage heavy focus, the narrative shifts back to the front lines. One man sees an Emporer to worship, to the doors of death if necessary. One seeks glory as a way to give meaning to his life. Another seeks promotion as a means to stability.
The plots converge at Austerlitz, where the battle emphasizes the fact that great men can be very wrong in their views and decisions. Soldiers’ dreams become shattered as glory never arrives, as one emperor proves to be fallible, and while another seems to be just like any other man.
The seeds of disillusionment planted in Part 2 continue to grow, and they now begin to extend towards society as well. Ballrooms and battlefields alike prove rife for strategy, devastation, and triumph as Volume I comes to a close.
The reading plan will be chugging along in the next few weeks, as all of Volume II, which has 5 Parts, is due by June 11th. More schemes! More fighting! More check-ins with you lovely readers!