Yesterday I read up through page 38 of Volume One, through Chapter Six of War and Peace. The soiree broke up and Ippolit and the Viscount showed themselves scoundrels lusting after Andrei’s wife, while Pierre and Andrei return to the latter’s house & Andrei and his wife have a “scene,” she weeping that he does not love her or treat her well. He is going off to war & sending her to his father’s house. Pierre doesn’t know what he’s going to do. Andrei tells him to never get married, it restricts your freedom too much; which astounds Pierre who feels Andrei has all the ingredients of happiness.
But I seem to be writing Cliff Notes for War & Peace which I do not want to do though some plot summary will be in order.
What struck me also was the argument about Napoleon and his taking over Europe and his ruthlessness. The Viscount, who I do not like and who I don’t think Tolstoy wants you to like, argues against Napoleon whereas Pierre, who one likes because of his bumptious sincerity amid the society bricolage, supports Napoleon. One feels the Viscount only cares about his aristocratic privileges but Pierre seeks the good, the truth; he is idealistic whereas the Viscount cares only for gain. The whole talk reminded me of Trump and whatever is in store for us, nationalism on the rise, etc. That we live, as they did in 1805, in interesting times. But, also, the personal, political, and philosophical, are interwoven.
A passage to enjoy, from page 27:
“Pierre, as we have already said, was awkward. Stout, of more than average height, broad-shouldered, with huge red hands, he had no idea of the proper way to enter a drawing-room, and still less the proper way of making his exit; in other words he did not know how to make some especially agreeable remark to his hostess before taking his leave. Moreover, he was absent-minded. He got up, and instead of taking his own hat he seized the plumed three-cornered hat of some general, and held it, pulling at the feathers until the general came and asked him to surrender it. But all his absent-mindedness and clumsiness about entering a drawing-room, and about suitable subjects of conversation, were redeemed by his expression of genuine goodness, simplicity, and modesty.”
Note: War and Peace takes up the first six volumes of this series, so I will be done with it by the end of March.
Here is the Works listed by volume and my reading schedule of them:
Volumes I-VI: War and Peace: January-March
Volumes VII-IX: Anna Karenina: April-mid-May
Volume X: Childhood, Boyhood, Youth: May
Volume XI: The Cossacks, Sevastapol: June
Volume XII: The Invaders: June
Volume XIII: A Russian Proprietor: July
Volume XIV: Ivan Ilyitch: July
Volume XV: The Long Exile: August
Volume XVI: Master & Man, Kreutzer Sonata: August
Volume XVII: My Confession, My Religion, Gospel in Brief: September
Volume XVIII: What Is To Be Done?, Life: September
Volume XIX: Kingdom of God: October
Volume XX: What Is Art? What Is Religion?: October
Volume XXI: Essays, Letters, Miscellanies, Volume 1, November
Volume XXII: Essays, Letters, Miscellanies, Volume 2, November
Volume XXIII: Resurrection, Volume 1, December
Volume XXIV: Resurrection, Volume 2, December