Charlotte Reads Classics

Slowly, slowly, she sipped a sentence.

War and Peace: Volume II, Part I

Nothing more, nothing less, love is the best? This is turning out to be a little bit like a soap.

Nikoláy and Sonya: He loves her, he loves her not. No wait, he does love her, especially now she’s essentially said that she wants him to have his freedom and that she’ll wait forever.

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Pierre and Hélene: She’s cheating on him, he finds out, challenges the lover to a duel, shoots him, assumes he’s dead… although he actually recovers.

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Natásha and Denisov: He proposes, she says no. I’m not too sure about her character, she seems very childish for a sixteen year old. And pretty irritating.

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Andréy and Lize: Hooray! Andréy turns out to be alive! Unfortunately, he returns home just in time for his wife to die in childbirth.

War and Peace: Volume I, Part III

At Home

Pierre is married to Helene Kurágin, after awkwardly becoming infatuated with her. Probably won’t end well because although she is beautiful Pierre is aware that she’s also stupid.

Márya Bolkónsky decides not to marry Anatole, and chooses to stay with her father instead.

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At War

Nikoláy Rostóv is promoted to Officer, and becomes extremely patriotic after seeing the Tsar. He prefers acts of heroism rather than getting references from/for his superiors. Prince Andréy on the other hand likes to use his status as a means to help other younger men, like Nikoláy’s friend Boris.

There is one major battle in this volume, which is a defeat for the Russians due to a lack of decent planning and generally not being as good as Napoleon. During this battle Prince Andréy is bludgeoned in the head by the French. Whilst lying on the battlefield drifting in and out of consciousness, he is taken to a French nursing station, but is left behind as a lost cause. Nikoláy is sent with a message for the general or the Tsar himself. As he rides through the increasingly apparently defeated soldiers, he sees horrific amounts of dead and wounded comrades. Eventually finding the Tsar on his own, he can’t believe how human he is. 

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Themes

  1. Destruction of idealism and hero worship- at war and in love
  2. The fragility of human life
  3. The insignificance of war in the scope of the universe

Above him was nothing, nothing but the sky – the lofty sky, not a clear sky, but still infinitely lofty, with grey clouds creeping gently across. ‘It’s so quiet, peaceful and solemn, not like me rushing about,’ thought Prince Andrey, ‘not like us, all that yelling and scrapping, not like that Frenchman and our gunner pulling on that cleaning-rod, with their scared and bitter faces, those clouds are different, creeping across that lofty, infinite sky. How can it be that I’ve never seen that lofty sky before? Oh how happy I am to have found it at last!’
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

His version of the battle at Schöngrabern was the usual version of a man who has been in a battle: he tells it as he would have liked it to have been, or as described by someone else, or in a version that just sounds good, anything but the way it really happened.
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace