Let’s Read This Thing : War and Peace is the culmination of my jotted notes and highlights while reading Leo Tolstoy’s epic for the first time. Some spoilers. And guess what- we’re almost done!
So head’s up. I’ve gotten a little behind. It’s been a bad month with school and travel and holidays, and all of that nonsense. But I’m still ahead of my reading buddies for this project at least. I guess that makes me the best of the worst?
So let’s see. Volume III, Part 2 is, like pretty much every section so far, packed full of activity. And metaphors. So many metaphors.
Like Old Prince Bolkonsky, for example. The man hides away from the world, sheltering himself and his daughter inside their estate and representing an old way of life away from the bustle of the salons that also feature in this section. But then, of course, tragedy hits. He is dead. The old Russia is dead. What comes after Napoleon will be something else entirely. Marya must face the new world alone.
Well, sort of. This chapter is not all sadness and woe. It is through death that Marya meets Nikolai, a savior on horseback who is conveniently in need of a rich wife (though he is still engaged to Sonya). Though their meeting is brief there is enough foreshadowing that these two young people, whose siblings were once engaged to each other, will meet again.
Death and love are spoken of, and so is war itself… which I suppose should surprise no one since that very word is in the title. Tolstoy muses further about historians and their assertions towards this campaign. Was Napoleon arrogant? Misguided? Following the suggestions of a fool? Either way, Borodino takes place (complete with battlefield maps!) and that battle, the deadliest of the entire campaign, will shape the future of Napoleon’s push. Though he wins… sort of? It’s not a decisive victory, and the Russian spirit endures. Napoleon marches on Moscow, but his chance to crush his enemy utterly is now gone.
And where is Pierre in all of this? Or Andrei. They are at the front, but with two contrasting mindsets. Pierre sees battle is beautiful, admirable. Soldiers laugh at him as he wanders the camps in awe. Andrei sees how naive his friend is- he has never had to fight, or take a bullet, or kill a man.
Andrei again suffers a major injury, and this time he ends up receiving medical care next to the very man he had been chasing all around Europe to duel- Anatole Kuragin. The scoundrel is undergoing a horrific amputation. Andrei’s roller coasting of emotions takes another corkscrew as he feels compassion with the man he loathed so much.
It’ll probably be a few days before I finish Volume III, and I’m already 5 days behind. Shameful! But I must say I have greatly enjoyed this book so far- it is very different from what I expected and in a good way. I have about 350 pages to go… home stretch!