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 might happen, no promises. But they are probably kind of vague?
I’ve gotten behind, sorry! I’m about a week back on my reading and even worse on my reviews but I’ll be catching up over the next few days. Vacations, am I right?
Anyway, Part 3 of the second volume continues to look at themes of happiness and fulfillment. What is modern life and how can one thrive in that world? After warfare, duels, scandals, deaths, and questions of faith, most of the main characters are seeking to pull themselves out of darkness. But they have changed; their entire world has changed.
Natasha Rostov is a symbol of change, a light in the darkness for so many men, a beacon of what hope and happiness the future might hold. She pushes Andrei to love again, she vexes Pierre without him knowing quite why, she charms everyone around her with her sheer vitality. Natasha is able to thrive despite the financial and social struggles of her family.
The Rostovs seek to regain their fortunes, forcing the otherwise good people to be societal outcasts in a city they don’t quite fit with. On the other hand, Helene, who is a terrible person, has been wildly successfully in charming the pants off of half of Europe. She is hailed as one of the wittiest and most intelligent women in the circles, though she is far from either.
All of society has changed with this war as everyone seeks to advance or regain what they had once lost. Berg and Boris seek advantageous marriages, Pierre questions his place with the Masons, the Rostovs struggle with their diminished state, the Bolkonskys try to desperately cling to their status quo. This chapter is one peppered with motivations and commentaries on the time, highlighting the ultimate goals sought by all.