Saturday, September 17, 2011
War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy
Summer Read-A-Long sponsored by Laurie at What She Read blog.
Pages read: 347-417
Chapters read: 1-21
Volume 2, Part Two read.
I am back from my month long hiatus from War and Peace. Everyone in the readalong is probably long finished with Tolstoy's masterpiece and here I am still plugging along page by page.
Tolstoy is setting up his characters like an orchestra and which will eventually reach a huge crescendo but in this section he is just arming his characters with instruments and setting up the music. Tolstoy the Maestro. Definitely.
Pierre Bezukhov has just joined the Masons and has found a purpose in his life. His initiation was quite interesting and odd. The Masons are a group of men who still exist behind the scenes today in modern society. Interesting. Pierre plans to help his serfs, build them a hospital, a school and give the mothers with babies time off but his supervisors undermine him and take his money and make the serfs work harder while Pierre remains oblivious to it all. Yet Pierre is happier and stands up to his father in law and even defends Masonry to his friend Andrei.
Prince Andrei Bolkonsky's wife has died and he suffers from guilt. His son is loved and cared for and soon to turn one. The war has started with Napoleon again but Andrei does not return to the war. Yet his father has been promoted and is one of the eight commanders in chief of the militia. Andrei remains steadfast in his will to live a quiet life alone much to Pierre's chagrin. Pierre is trying to recruit Andrei into Masonry.
Nicholai Rostov has returned to war and loves the camaraderie among the soldiers. Yet the soldiers are starving, having gone two weeks without provisions and eating whatever they can find. Denisov is Rostov's friend and fellow officer but he decided to steal provisions and is up for a court martial. Denisov also gets shot in the leg in battle and is awaiting the consequences of his action in a typhus infected hospital.
Meanwhile Alexander and Napoleon have reached a 5 year truce and their will be peace. Yet the men are still starving and dying of infection and disease all over the land.
Tolstoy does an excellent job of contrasting wealthy society with the brutal realities of war and peasantry.