Reading War & Peace #10: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude, WORDSWORTH EDITION (for page # references)

I’m starting to think last week’s desire for a tribute post was not my best idea, because now Andrew is actually dead. Didn’t really mean for that to happen. I was actually rocking my invisible #Team Sonya shirt this week, the #team that promotes not dying so that you can marry your past lover and prevent her brother from marrying your sister. Or, in other words, Nicholas Rostov, five weeks ago you said “suppose I loved a girl who has no fortune, would you expect me to sacrifice my feelings and my honour for the sake of money?” [pg. 407] and now you’re all “Mary this, Mary that” and that was not the plan, young man.

Now that Andrew’s dead, it might be time to acknowledge the guilt I’ve been feeling lately about liking the guy to begin with. Even though I know it’s wrong – it was even a topic a while back – throughout the book I’ve found myself slowly falling for Tolstoy’s sexist logic; finding the women to be annoying, even silly, and the men thoughtful, profound and complex. I guess that is the way they were written, but I’m supposed to be better than that and not fall for it every time they get shot and discover the meaning of life. It took a while, because as long as Andrew was emotionally abusing Lise, I had my limits. But then she up and died, and he just became so… likeable. I loved the dynamics between him and his father, his friendship with Pierre, and the way he thought about and talked about Natasha. Calm, mature. He was the sensible one. It was nice to have one of those. Is that enough to forgive him for delights such as “Selfish, vain, stupid, trivial in everything – that’s what women are when you see them in their truest colours!” [pg. 22]? I’m not sure. Am I still allowed to feel a bit sad? I think so.

As opposed to the aforementioned, Count Bezhukov actually did manage to obtain some of the heaps and tons of luck I wished him last week, and didn’t get his head shot off by the French. In case you were wondering, he’s currently on one of his philisophical streaks. Prepare for some bullshit.

In the midst of sadness and annoyance, one man stuck out this week. I’ve decided to re-focus all of my love on Prince Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov. Kutuzov, who “said his prayers, dressed, and with an unpleasant consciousness of having to direct a battle he did not approve of, got into his caleche and drove […]” and then sat “[…] dozing and waking up by turns, and listening for any sound of firing on the right as an indication that the action has begun.” [pg. 783] I once forced myself to fall asleep at a screening of Julie & Julia to make it clear that I didn’t approve of the choice of movie. A grumpy old man, dragging himself to the car and then making himself fall asleep to prove that he doesn’t care and hates you all. And then “Everything had been admirably thought out as is usual in dispositions, and as is always the case not a single column reached its place at the appointed time.” [pg. 782] Time to yell at someone. Literally anyone. “When Eykhen, the officer of the general staff whom he had summoned, appeared, Kutuzov went purple in the face, not because that officer was to blame for the mistake, but because he was an object of sufficient importance for him to vent his wrath on. Trembling and panting the old man fell into that state of fury in which he sometimes used to roll on the ground, and he fell upon Eykhen, threatening him with his hands, shouting and loading him with gross abuse.” [pg. 783] And again. “Another man, Captain Brozin, who happened to turn up and who was not at all to blame, suffered the same fate.” [pg. 784] Having this on film couldn’t have made it any better. I can just picture the poor man showing up and having no clue what’s going on and why the heck he’s being shouted at. Also, finding “an object of sufficient importance for him me to vent his my wrath on is my new approach to life.

Speaking of approach, and moving in general, I now have a very creepy looking leopard print cane. The kind that goes along with a seventy year old man in a fur coat on his way out of the casino. It’s ugly enough to be excusable, so I’m keeping it. (I tried explaining that concept to my grandparents but they just kept asking why I don’t replace it if I don’t like it, so I dropped the topic.)

Before I go, I have two last comments. First off, I will more likely than not, not be finishing the book next week, as I have 160 pages left. Expect a miraculous comeback, or two more updates. Secondly, last week, after posting, I found a note in my phone that said “pg. 555 Berg”. So I’d like to issue my official apology to Berg, whose position I mocked last Tuesday, because 125 pages prior to being “[…] assistant to the head of the staff of the assistant-commander of the first division of the Second Army.” [pg. 680] he was “[…] assistant to the chief of staff of the commander of the left flank of the infantry of the First Army, […]” It does get better, guys.


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