Blog Post

Tolstoy Journal, January 9, 2017

Once again I forgot to read Tolstoy but this morning I have read 40 pages. On January 15th I will finish this volume and begin Volume II. I will be in Florida from January 12th to 16th so I might not be blogging during that time but I will scribble these notes and type them up when I get back.

In the pages I read, up to the end of Part One and to Chapter Four of Part Two, Prince Andrei says good-bye to his family, and then we are taken to the war in Austria.

The leave-taking is like all of Tolstoy. You are affected deeply because he shows you what happened so clearly. The father, unable to express grief, is angry instead. Prince Andrei leaves with the old man yelling at him and the women asking what’s wrong, but nothing is wrong; that’s how the old man had to say good-bye.

Prince Andrei goes to serve with Kutuzov who comes to inspect a company which includes Dolokoff who has been busted down to the ranks because of his Petersburg shenanigans. The funny part, which reminds you of all war stories, is that the company commander is ordered to present his men the next morning for Kutuzov’s visit, but he is not told in what condition. So they decided to stay up all night, after a long march, cleaning and polishing. An hour before Kutuzov comes, an aide rushes up and says Kutuzov wants to see them as they were when they arrived because Kutuzov wants to show the Austrian general how they have received no help from Austria. So they have an hour to change back into their dirty marching clothes and muck things up.

From what I’ve been told this is the way it is in the military. A guy once told me that if you want to screw things up in the military all you have to do is follow orders.

Nevertheless, Prince Andrei is thriving in war-time. Page 173: “Notwithstanding the fact that not much time had elapsed since Prince Andrei had left Russia, he had greatly changed. In the expression of his face, in his motions, in his gait, there was almost nothing to be recognized of his former affectation, lassitude, and laziness. He had the appearance of a man who has not time to think about the impression that he produces upon others, but who is occupied with pleasant and interesting work. His face showed more of contentment with himself and his surroundings; his smile and glance were more cheerful and attractive.”

I looked ahead at the Works, pulled out a few volumes at random. Some have photos of Tolstoy as frontispieces, others illustrations of scenes in the novel. Also, some are 350 pages. But, overall, I think the average is 300; either way 24 volumes of Tolstoy this year or bust!

Also this series was published in his lifetime & I don’t think includes Hadji Murad or Father Sergius.

Also I have found another book on my shelves to add to my “travel book” collection: The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy’s Last Year by Jay Parini.


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