Thoughts on: War & Peace: Book 2 – Part 4

July 21, 2012

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is a fictional book first published in 1869. The work is regarded as one of the most important works of world literature. The copy I read was translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.

  • 1350 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; New edition
  • ISBN: 0199232768

Thoughts on: War & Peace: Book 2 – Part 4

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So far, this was the shortest part of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and also the least dramatic. This part, it seems to me, is a setup for things which are upcoming in the novel.

The part which I mostly enjoyed in this section is the wolf hunt. Tolstoy goes into the minds of the wolf as well as the hunting dogs and the reader gets to share their thoughts and excitement. The way the wolf hunt was written reminded me greatly of the great battle scenes earlier in the book.

Again, the reader gets a taste of Tolstoy’s disdain for the upper classes. Uncle’s house, a distant relative met during the wolf hunt, is not as ostentatious as the Westernized Rostov estate and is described as “Russian”, open, simple and comfortable. As a dig on Natsha’s marriage storyline, Tolstoy also have Uncle living contently with his housekeeper who is obviously his common in law wife.

The Rostovs aren’t doing too well in their estate outside of Moscow. Since the Count has been not been able to manage the finances of the family very well, they are in serious financial problems. The family calls Nikolai back from the army in order to help out as much as he can.

The whole Rostov family still doesn’t like the fact that Natasha is engaged to Andrei. They don’t doubt that Andrei is a good man, but they worry about Andrei’s family. It is clear to all of them that Andrei’s father does not like them and are worried that this might cause issues and a difficult life for Natasha. Even though they don’t say anything, the read can certainly tell that they are insulted.

Meanwhile, Nikolai is accusing the family’s steward with theft, even though everyone knows he is just dealing with bad finances. The Count feels that Nikolai is just embarrassing the family and does not ask him again to look into the family finances.
Natasha and Petya join the family for the wolf hunt where the meet Uncle, a distant relative leaving by the Rostov’s estate and they also meat Ilagin, a neighbor. Since they’ve head some disputes with Ilagin in the past, Nikolai is predestined not to like him, but to his surprise the neighbor is actually a nice guy.

When they finish hunting they all congregate in Uncle’s house which, to their surprise is “Russian”. It is explained that the Rostov’s surround themselves with Western items and décor while Uncle’s house is simple and comfortable where he lives happily with his common in law wife/housekeeper.

The Countess is hatching a plan to get the Rostov’s out of the financial mass they gotten themselves into.: Nikolai should marry Julia Karagin, a rich heiress. The Countess already talked to Julia’s mother and set events in motion. However, Nikolai feels he will be dishonored by breaking his vows to Sonya and turns to his parents for advice, however they proved to be useless and, to their disappointment, Nikolai turns down the offer.

It is now the end of the year and Nikolai is back with his family for the holidays. At this time Nikolai and Natasha remember their childhood while Sonya feels jealous that she cannot share the bond between the siblings. Meanwhile Natasha feels odd about her match with Andrei, she misses him even though she hardly knows him. Natasha is bored and feels that only Andrei could cure her boredom.
Nikolai, Sonya and Natasha visit a neighbor during that year’s White Christmas. During that magical time, the frosty air, good will and enchantment all around, Nikolai convinces himself that he’s very much in love with Sonya.

This turn of events turns the Countess from the lovely lady she is to a vengeful woman who blames the continuation of the Rostovs financial crisis on Sonya whom she blames for marrying her son. Even though none of this is Sonya’s fault, the Countess simply vents her anger which she cannot vent on Nikolai. When Nikolai hears of the Countess’ accusations towards Sonya of ingratitude, he becomes angry himself. The Countess realizes that she is wrong and is close to losing her son. Natash makes peace but Nikolai leaves without resolving anything, and returns to the army.

Zohar – Man of la Book

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