W&P Week 48: Four/Four/17

For 12/09/2021, to p.1205

Book 4, Part 4 Continued

Scene Continued: Near Krasnoe (Krasnoi), among the Russian Troops

Chapter 9

Ramballe, the French officer Pierre had been so friendly with before his arrest, and his orderly Morel, stumble hungry and (especially Ramballe) very sick into the Russian camp. Ramballe is taken to officer’s quarters, his orderly stuffs his face and the Russians soldiers sing French songs with him. Again, all stare up at the stars above them (odd final paragraphs anthropomorphizes the stars and imagines a conscious universe).

Scene: Russian Headquarters in Vilna

Chapter 10

More general reflections on the French retreat and specifically the crossing of the River Beryozina [Berezina]. Everyone in Petersburg as well as the generals under Kutuzov still criticize Kutuzov, and although he gets to fire Bennigsen, he is basically “done”–he stays in Vilna, and when the Tsar joins the troops at Vilna on December 11, 1812, the last hurrah is that he does receive the rare Order of St. George of the First Class.

Chapter 11

The Tzar wants to continue the war outside of Russia, even though Kutuzov objects; the Russians have after all been freed from Napoleon and the French army is destroyed–but since he is no longer in charge, his opinion does not count for much; he is replaced by a new field marshal, and dies off stage, in a sentence (“And so he died.” 1187). [Wikipedia: He got sick in early 1813 but did not die until April 28 in Silesia. He had no male heirs and the estate passes to the TOLSTOY FAMILY, because his oldest daughter was to a Tolstoy.]

Scene: With Pierre in Oryol and Moscow

Chapter 12

After his liberation, Pierre reaches Oryol and gets very ill, but trustedservants and even his oldest half-sister come to nurse him back to health. He is in a very happy zen-like state, feeling inner freedom and a very firm faith in God.

Chapter 13

Pierre listens patiently and serenely to friends and servants (and even a total stranger, an Italian) while he is regaining his health; he stands to lose a huge part of his fortune (especially if he agrees to pay his deceased wife’s debts, but he is not concerned. Eventually, he is strong enough to return to Moscow to settle various affairs and rebuild his estate, which did burn down.

Chapter 14

As people return to Moscow in large numbers and begin rebuilding. At first, there is still a lot of looting (now by Russian peasants), but soon, trade, religious services, bureaucracy, etc. begin again.

Chapter 15

Once Pierre is back in Moscow (by the end of January 1813), he is quite happy. He hears that Princess Marya is back in her house (which was not destroyed) and pays her a condolence visit, wondering about Andrei’s state of mind when he died. At first, he does not realize that Marya’s companion, as she receives him, is Natasha, since he doesn’t expect her to be present. He is very flustered so that it is immediately apparent that he is in love with her, even though she has changed so much–pale, thin, and unsmiling.

Chapter 16

As the conversation continues, Natasha feels moved to tell both Pierre and Marya (for the first time) about her experience nursing Andrei on the road and then in Yaroslavl [not narrated], and then rushes from the room just as little Nikolushka enters. Pierre greets the boy, very moved because he looks so much like his father, and tries to say his good byes, but Marya insists he stay for dinner.

Chapter 17

Over dinner, it is Pierre’s turn to unburden himself; after saying that he just feels sorry for Hélène’s lonely death, he tell about his time after they last saw him in Moscow–his rescue efforts during the burning, his arrest, the executions he witnessed, the prisoners’ march [not narrated, just mentioned]–and he is pleased to be listened to by “real women who are gifted with a capacity to select and absorb the very best a man shows of himself” (1203–yeah, right). After he leaves, Natasha and Marya have a brief conversation that (partly because of Natasha’s suddenly “mischievous smile,” 1205) makes Marya see the possibility of Natasha and Pierre becoming a couple.