It’s a shame that a man as intelligent as Andrei could be so cynical and easily depressed. His father, who sharing the same atheistic world-view, kept his mind active with regiment and study, but Andrei never seemed able to find something to occupy himself and so he’s becomes this shell of a man. It’s a sad world view, but compelling in its apparent truth. Does God fill this void for men? It did for Tolstoy
A good example of pass judgment to quick is the case of the too hot McDonald’s coffee and the lady who sued over it. This is used as shorthand for stupid people trying to make a quick buck, but in fact the coffee had actually been far, far too hot, and had seriously burned her. We hear she sues and think she’s trying to take advantage of something when in fact that wasn’t the case at all.
A mistake we all make a lot is when we see something that, to us, looks totally idiotic and stupid is to either criticize its stupidity or “fix” the issue. We never question the reason why it’s so “stupid”, we only see it through our own narrow lens and thus pass judgements on the whole world this way. But more often then not we are the ones failing to realize that the thing we think is stupid really isn’t.
This is my 4th time reading the novel but never remembered this scene between Dolokhov and Pierre. I don’t know what to make of it, really – Dolokhov seems perfectly sincere in his wish to be forgiven by Pierre. My best guess is that Dolokhov is a precursor to Dostoevsky’s Smerdyakov: a character as complex as a real person whom the reader must find a way to love and forgive. Dolokhov fascinates.
A funny but also sad image of Kutuzov too fat to get up from his knees when bowing to the ikon. This entire procession is interesting in that’s it’s a mix of how religious the Russians are, but so much of it is done rote over and over by the chanters and priest – 20 times (and 1 Orthodox service itself is repetitive).
Pierre doesn’t know where the battlefield is because it’s all chaos, who would, really?
“why are they thinking of anything but death?”: because thinking about death is terrifying for most people, so thinking about why a fat man in a green swallow-tail coat and white hat is walking around the battlefield is far more unique and interesting.
Why is Pierre so impressed with the peasants digging on the battlefield? It’s a very 20th century socialist image, for sure. This is the spirit of Russia.
In which we get a talking point about the pointlessness of the Battle of Borodino and how none of the accepted historical surveys of the battle are accurate because of so many reasons.
I don’t know enough about the battle nor military tactics to agree or disagree with Tolstoy, so I’ll only focus on his bigger point about how history is often rigged to make everyone look smarter than they really were.