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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Before the battle of Borodino

War and Peace gets a little squirrely and strange before the battle of Borodino. Pierre, as noted previously, becomes the lens through which Tolstoy surveys the battleground. In another one of those odd but somehow plausible coincidences, Pierre comes across Dolokhov just before the battle. Dolokhov, whom Pierre had wounded in a duel back in volume 1, asks for Pierre's forgiveness. Then, if I'm remembering correctly, Pierre runs into Boris Dubrosky (sp?), who has risen high in the ranks and in society through his inveterate social climbing and his general opportunism and obsequiousness. Boris offers to give Pierre a tour of the fortigifications and battle lines. I suppose all of this is possible, but could a civilian really wander around like this just pondering the view? This great novel is literally slipping out of Tolstoy's hands here for a few moments (chapters), as the novelist is so intent on depicting the great battle that he loses sight of his characters and their motivations, feelings. They just observe, they don't (Pierre doesn't) do anything much and even say anything much during this stretch. Pierre is a really great and intriguing character - in some ways, I would guess, the closest stand-in for Tolstoy himself. But he needs more of an edge at this point of the book. Pierre actually comes more to life in the drawing room than on the battlefield - though I await to see what becomes of him once the battle begins.

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