War & Peace & Death

This week Molly and I read Part One of Volume 4.  It was only 50 pages and yet we both lost one of our characters!  So, Moscow is burning as the French invade, but in the high circles of society of Petersburg, life goes on as usual, with the requisite balls and social obligations.

The majority of the people of that time paid no attention to the general course of things, but were guided only by the personal interests of the day.  And these people were the most useful figures of that time.

Those, however, who tried to understand the general course of things and wanted to take part in it with self-sacrifice and heroism, were the most useless members of society; they say everything inside out, and everything they did to be useful turned out to be useless nonsense, like Pierre’s and Mamonov’s regiments, which looted Russian villages, like the lint that young ladies plucked and that never got to the wounded, and so on.

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The three of my characters in this section all came together for the first and last time.  Prince Andrei had been badly injured and was staying the Natasha and the Rostov’s, where his life hung in the balance.  Natasha stayed by his side nursing him back to health, both of them hoping for a future together.  Princess Maria, meanwhile in Voronezh, saw her true love Nikolai again and learned from him where her brother was.  She and Andrei’s 7 year-old son went to him immediately (or as fast as they could which was 2 weeks).  When they arrived at the monastery where the family was staying it was obvious from Natasha’s face that Andrei was not well.  As the two women, past enemies, bonded over their love for Andrei they kept vigil.  Andrei himself was prepared for death.  By the end he had lost real meaning with his current world.

“Love? What is love?” he thought.  “Love hinders death.  Love is life.  Everything, everything I understand, I understand only because I love.  Everything is, everything exists, only because I love.  Everything is connected only by that.  Love is God, and to die-means that I, a part of love, return to the common and eternal source.”  These thoughts seemed comforting to him.  But they were only thoughts.  Something was lacking in them, there was something one-sidedly personal, cerebral there was no evidence.  And there was the same uneasiness and vagueness.

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In the end Prince Andrei died and I’m sad.  I thought he was a wonderful character full of life and troubled by darkness.  He was a man to admire, flaws and all.  So what will become of Natasha and Maria?  I think Maria has a real chance at happiness with Nikolai.  As for Natasha, she continued to grow up this week.  She was able to redeem herself a little of her terrible treatment of Andrei when they were engaged, so maybe she’ll find happiness too.

So who died over at Molly’s?  You’ll have to click on over to find out.