Daily Archives: January 18, 2016

30% done with War and Peace


The character of the Tsar Alexander is interesting because Tolstoy almost always describes him in terms of whom is influencing him. First it is the man who helped him by the tree during the battle, again when Napoleon surprises him with the awarding of a medal, and now by Speransky’s influence. We get the picture of a nation that is unsure of itself, just like all the characters in the novel are. They are young.

29% done with War and Peace


I don’t understand why Andrei tries to submit a proposal for the reform of military law. Maybe it’s the awakened youthfulness in him (mirrored by the reformer Speransky), but Arakcheyev is right to argue that there isn’t anyone to carry out the current laws as it is – which we’ve seen with Denisov’s affair. Andrei has been to far long out of circulation to think this would work. It’s like he wants to fail.

29% done with War and Peace


The transformation that Pierre says happened to him (and that he believes happened to him) we actually get to see in Andrei. This works because Andrei is not a passionate person, he’s cold and distant and hides his few emotions and so it’s easier to see a transformation than in someone like Pierre. And we feel it much the stronger in Andrei, too.

Again perception. The old oak has bloomed and quite changed.

29% done with War and Peace


Though we get not so subtle juxtaposition of the “lush, wet, bushy vegetation with silver-lit leaves and stems here and there” with Natasha, she is not actually seen. In fact she is still a child in the window above wishing she could fly off into the night. She is innocent, he is not. She is the silver-lit, he is dark. And them not seeing each other defines their relationship for the forced time apart.

29% done with War and Peace


Earlier in the novel Tolstoy says something to the effect of: as long as one has eyes they have to be looking at something. And that is true here, too when spring is all around and Andrei, though oblivious to the beauty, will inventively succumb to nature. Even the old oak, bitter and weary, knows it will soon bloom in spite of its ill temper. You can’t deny nature, and really, why should you?

29% done with War and Peace


Russian literature has a reputation for being dull, dreary, and depressing. And in some ways that reputation is deserved: Dostoevsky and Tolstoy dealt with heavy themes, especially the former, but in all Russian literature there is an almost magic realism and fantastical element hidden just beneath. Here we get a paragraph from the point of view (as Andrei imagines it) of an ancient, bitter oak tree).