W&P Week 14: Two/One/10

For 4/13/2021 (OUP p. 354)

Book One, Part 3 Concluded
(Aftermath of the Battle of Austerlitz)

Chapter 18

Nikolai is still looking for Kutuzov or the emperor to deliver his message amid the chaos and then sees his emperor, all by himself, and his heart fails him; he cannot approach him. He rides off (another officer, a Captain von Toll, actually does sit with the Czar–I assume this is an actual historical anecdote). The battle is lost by 5 pm, there is a dam where people are dying as they are vulnerable to being shot like targets, but as they try to get away from it across the ice on the pond below, following the wounded Dolokhov, the ice gives way and many men drown.

Chapter 19

Andrei, wounded and bleeding heavily, is found among the wounded by Napoleon, who is inspecting the battlefield with two of his men. When it becomes clear he is not dead, he is taken to a field hospital for wounded and captured Russian officers. Napoleon later speaks to him again when he visits the POV, who admire him as victor in battle even as he is the enemy, but Andrei does not speak–he is still thinking “of the insignificance of greatness, the unimportance of life… of death” (312) — he can still only think of the “lofty sky” he saw when he was wounded. The doctor that checks him over thinks he will not recover because he is “nerveux et bilieux” (313). He and other wounded men are “left to the care of the inhabitants in the district,” i.e. the Austrian villagers? (313)

Book 2, Part 1

Moscow, 1806

Chapter 1

Nikolai comes home to Moscow on leave in early 1806, with Denisov in tow. There is an emotional welcome from the whole family, especially Natasha and Nikolai’s mother. The day after their late-evening arrival, Nikolai and Natasha have a long conversation about Nikolai and Sonya; as per Natasha, Sonya is releasing Nikolai from his promise, but only so that when he does propose, it is not out of a sense of obligation. Nikolai himself is flirty with Sonya but really only keen on his manly freedom. Natasha says she is not interested in anyone at all.

Chapter 2

As Nikolai maneuvers Moscow society as a grownup, he is drifting away from Sonya more and just wants to hang out with his soldier friends (including to visit “a certain house,” 325–code for brothel?). His father is the key organizer for a big celebratory dinner for Bagration at the English Club. As he is working with the chef etc., he is trying to rope Nikolai into running logistics errands for him and go see Pierre / Count Bezukhov for strawberries and pineapple, but the ubiquitous Anna M. takes that over, eager to go since Pierre has just arrived and she wants to keep that connection going for Boris’ sake. There is scandalous gossip about Pierre’s unhappy marriage; his wife is supposed to have an affair with Dolokhov.
Why celebrate a defeat? Tolstoy glosses: Moscow society has found a way to ascribe the defeat at Austerlitz to everyone else (Austrians, Kutuzov, other incompetent or treacherous leaders etc.) but not to the army in general and not toBagration, hero of Schön-Grabern. Everyone talks about the heroes (even Berg is included “by those who did not know him,” oh SNAP!); nobody talks about Andrei, thought, “and only those who knew him intimately regretted that he had died so young” (328).

Chapter 3

The dinner at the English Club the next day (March 3, 1806) is for 300 people–divided into mostly older men and the young officers present. Pierre is really in neither group and shuttles back and forth–should be with the young men in terms of age, but with the older ones in terms of title and wealth. Nikolai’s father is everywhere; when Bagration arrives, he is feted with bad heroic verse that is interrupted by the call to dinner. Nikolai sits with Denisov and Dolokhov; lots of emotional toasts and smashing of glasses, until eventually Nikolai’s father Ilya is also toasted as organizer.

Chapter 4

Pierre is sitting across from Dolokhov and Nikolai, in great anguish, because he keeps getting hints and anonymous letters about his wife’s infidelity with Dolokhov. He is very angry, and when he realizes that Nikolai and Dolokhov are talking about him and when Dolokhov addresses him directly and proposes a toast “to the health of lovely women, Petrusha–and their lovers!”(335). Pierre challenges Dolokhov to a duel. He thinks of his wife as the guilty party, not Dolokhov, but after a sleepless night, he meets with Dolokhov and the adjutants (Nesvitsky and Denisov) in foggy, wintery weather. Pierre barely knows how to use a pistol, never having held one before.

Chapter 5

Nonetheless, shooting almost blindly and not , he manages to wound Dolokhov quite severely; Dolokhov tries to kill him at only 10 paces, as Pierre just stands there, but misses. Pierre leaves with Nesvitsky, in obvious shock; Rostov, using his carriage, takes Dolokhov home, where it turns out he lives with a devoted “old mother and a hunchback sister… the most affectionate of sons and brothers.” (338).

Chapter 6

Pierre at his home has withdrawn into the room where his father died, avoiding his wife as he has been, but thinking about her as a “depraved woman,” her “coarseness” and “vulgarity” (340). There is an allusion to Anatole having an incestuous relationship with her (but the footnote says it was much more obvious in the first draft). He blames himself for having married her, but he is determined to separate from her. She comes to see him and tells him we is an idiot for believing Dolokhov is her lover, but she agrees to a separation if he gives her a settlement. He gives her control of “all his estates in Great Russia, which formed the larger part of his property” and leaves for St. Petersburg (343).

Scene Change: Bald Hills

Chapter 7

At Bald Hills, Andrei’s father got the news from Kuzutov in January that Andrei heroically “fell” with the standard in his hand, but that the body was not found on the battlefield and that he may still be alive. He is convinced Andrei is dead; Princess Marya tries to console him when she finds out, but finds she cannot bring herself to tell Lise, as she has been ordered to do, and actually manages to persuade her father to keep the news from her until she has given birth, since that is imminent. He sends “an official to Austria to seek for traces” (345) and also orders a monument for Andrei, becoming less and less hopeful and weakening, while Marya keeps hoping.

Chapter 8

On March 19, Lise tells Marya that she is not feeling well and thinks it an upset stomach, but she is going into labor. The doctor from Moscow is not there yet, but the midwife is there. The house is quiet, since there is a superstition that “the fewer the people who know of it the less a woman in labour suffers,” so “everyone tried to pretend not to know” (347). As a carriage drives up late at night during a storm, Marya expects the doctor from Moscow, but it is Andrei, alive but “with a changed and strangely softened but agitated expression” (349).

Chapter 9

Andrei goes to see his wife, calling her “darling” for the first time ever;” she is silent seems reproachful but also smiling. He is hustled out of the room, and is not let in. He hears his wife scream “a terrible shriek;” then a baby’s cry (350). The baby lives, but his wife is dead. THIS WAS HORRIBLE.
As the princess is lying in her open casket, both men feel like her face still says, as it did when Andrei saw her in labor: “What have you done to me?” but while Andrei feels he is “guilty of a sin he could neither remedy nor forget” his father turns away from the sight in anger (351). The baptism of baby Nikolai Andreevitch happens five days later.

Scene Change: Moscow

Chapter 10

Nikolai’s participation in the duel is kept secret; he is promoted and stays in Moscow all summer as “adjutant to the governor-general,” befriending in the recovering Dolokhov and hearing his mother talk about his nobility while Dolokhov himself talks about his “priceless mother” while also claiming that he has “not yet met any women who weren’t for sale–countesses or cooks, they’re all the same” (353). Nikolai’s family, who summered in the country, come back for the winter season, and Nikolai is all about the parties and the “amorous atmosphere” at home, where all the young people flirt. Because Natasha had earlier taken a liking to Pierre, she hates Dolokhov, who comes all the time and has clearly fallen in love with Sonya. But more war is coming, and Nikolai is eagerly waiting to join his regiment with Denisov after Christmas.

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