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War and Peace > Book 2--Austria

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message 1: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments October 1805

I suppose the atmosphere at Bald Hills should have prepared us for this. We have left Russia and peace and parties and are now in Austria and definitely at war. This section is very different from the last, but Tolstoy's skill in bringing out character is just as sharp.


Briggs's chapter summaries:
1. The Russian army prepares for and inspection at Braunau.
2. The inspection takes place. Zherkov and Dolokhov.
3. Kutuzov and an Austrian general. The 'unfortunate General Mack.'

4. The Pavolgrad hussars. Nikolay Rostov, Telyanin and the stolen purse.
5. Nikolay is encouraged to apologize to his commanding officer.
6. Crossing the Enns.
7. Incidents on the crowded bridge.
8. The burning of the bridge. Nikolay's undistinguished baptism of fire.

9. Andrey is sent with dispatches to the Austrian court. The war minister.
10. Andrey stays with Bilibin.
11. Bilibin's guests, 'our people,' including Hippolyte Kuragin.
12. Andrey meets the Emperor Francis [Franz I, emperor of Austria].
Bilibin's story of the Tabor bridge.
13. Andrey returns to Kutuzov.

14. Bagration is sent to Hollabrunn. Napoleon writes to Murat.
15. Andrey reports to Bagration. Captain Tushin. Soldiers at the front.
16. Andrey surveys the position. The first shot.
17. The battle of Schongrabern. Captain Tushin sets fire to the village.
18. Battle scenes. Bagration in the thick of things.
19. Two Russian commanders at loggerheads. Nikolay is injured.
20. Panic. Dolokhov's moment of glory. Relief for the battling Tushin.
21. Retreat. Nikolay cadges a lift. Andrey defends Tushin.


message 2: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments New characters:


PART TWO
Introduced at the review near Braunau
Chapter I-II
Mihail Ilarionovich Kutuzov, elderly commander in chief of the Russian army, called back to active duty to meet the threat of Napoleon's invasion
Prince Nesvitsky, a staff officer
Captain Timohin, an army officer
Zherkhov, an hussar cornet

Introduced at Kutuzov's headquarters, near Braunau
Chapter III
Kozlovsky, Kutuzov's aide-de-camp
Baron Mack von Leiberich, an Austrian general

Introduced in Nikolay Rostov's regiment in Salzeneck
Chapters IV-V
Vassily (Vaska) Dmitrich Denisov, an officer friend of Nikolay Rostov
Lavrushka, Denisov's orderly, later Nikolay Rostov's
Lieutenant Telyanin, a thieving army officer

Introduced in Chapter X
Bilibin, in the diplomatic service

Introduced in Chapter XII
Francis II, Holy Rornan Emperor, later Emperor of Austria

Introduced in Chapter XIII
Peter Ivanovich Bagration, commander of the Russian army

Introduced in Chapter XV
Captain Tushin, an army officer


message 3: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Cossacks

Several times in 1.2 we are told of a Cossack taking care of a horse or assisting an officer. You might remember that Marya Dmitrievna, in 1.1, called Natasha a little Cossack. The Cossacks, were, in the words of Wikipedia:

a traditional community of martial people living in the southern steppe regions of Eastern Europe (primarily southern Russia and historically Ukraine) and Asia (Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan). They are famous for their self-reliance and military skills, particularly horsemanship. "Cossack" has also traditionally referred to a member of a Cossack military unit.
....
Russian Cossacks served in the Russian regular army in various wars throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. During the Russian Civil War they fought for both the Red Army and White Army. The Don Cossack Host were one of the main military forces resisting the Bolsheviks. Cossack military regiments were, however, reformed prior to the World War II. Currently in Russia, Cossacks are seen as either ethnic descendants or by their active military service and often both. The latter category was listed as a separate group in the census and there are currently up to 150,000 Cossacks in military service in Russia and up to several million descendants aware of their Cossack heritage, which is now experiencing a revival, particularly in the south of Russia.

You can find more information about them here:

http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/...

http://www.alexanderpalace.org/peters...

Read about and watch some Cossack dances here.

http://www.barynya.com/barynya/2009_s...


message 4: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments There is a big change of setting and action from book 1 to book 2, but does Tolstoy's writing style change? For that matter, what IS Tolstoy's writing style?


message 5: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Here's a sketch of Braunau:

http://www.garwood-voigt.com/catalogu...


message 6: by Hanskoebi (new)

Hanskoebi I've really enjoyed reading chapter XII. In the preceding chapters we are introduced to Bilibin and his circle, which reminded me of Petersburg's high society, although this time we are 'dans ce vilain trou morave'. Chapter XII combines comical events (the audience and Bilibin's story of the Tabor bridge) and Andrei's dead serious perspective. In my opinion, Bilibin's hilarious recount and how Andrei feels the urge to play Bonaparte and save the Russian army are superbly interwoven, creating a dramatic opposition between their attitudes to the war.

I also think that this chapter would not be half as good without the French words. Note that the dialogue between Andrei and the emperor is given in Russian (although they most likely spoke French with each other) while in Bilibin's circle there is a lot of French.


message 7: by Kyle (new)

Kyle | 99 comments Not sure about Tolstoy's writing style, however, I'm absolutely loving his ability to seamlessly interlace both the mundane and the profound. Chapter XIX was brilliant as he describes Rostov's squadron mounting their horses, followed by a philosophical, yet beautifully concise musing on "that same terrible line of the unknown and of fear, like the line separating the living from the dead." Wow.


message 8: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Great observations, Hanskoebi and Kyle. Tolstoy can be quite funny, can't he? And philosophic and descriptive and conversational. I'm beginning to think this is a book about everything.


message 9: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Matthew Hodge of Australia did a one-year chapter-a-day blog of War and Peace about five years ago and brought in some excellent insights. Here he is on chapter one of our present book:

http://relentlesspursuit.wordpress.co...



message 10: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4509 comments Laurele wrote: "There is a big change of setting and action from book 1 to book 2, but does Tolstoy's writing style change? For that matter, what IS Tolstoy's writing style?"

A really interesting question. It seems to me that Tolstoy doesn't write with the same kind of nuance in book 2 as he does in book 1. I suppose the subject material is not conducive to this in book 2, nor is the fact that the book focuses on men at war and the brutish side of masculinity. Comparing a character like Count Rostov to Denisov, I feel like I have a fuller picture of Rostov. Maybe that is due to the character, or maybe it's the scene. Tolstoy can certainly do action scenes -- the horse race in Anna Karenina for example -- but the battle scenes in this book did not take on that kind of vividness for me.


message 11: by Lily (last edited Aug 29, 2013 02:02AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Thomas wrote: "Tolstoy can certainly do action scenes -- the horse race in Anna Karenina for example -- but the battle scenes in this book did not take on that kind of vividness for me...."

I've probably not read quite as far as you this time, Thomas, but I did feel the review of the regiment as it arrived at Braunau was an accurate, amusing, and nuanced action scene, albeit not the action of a horse race or battle. I did have to read it through twice to get the subtleties and it did help to have read a bit further and realize how some of these characters would act as the story progressed. I don't recall previously noticing little things, such as Zherkov returning to talk to Dolokhov and Dolokhov's stand-off coldness -- it was just the chaos and humor of spit-and-shine presentation versus weary from the march presentation of the troops to the Austrian general. This time I loved lines like: all from Book II, Chapter II, but to shorten post (view spoiler)


message 12: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4509 comments Lily wrote: "It is almost as if Tolstoy is writing the script and stage directions for a movie. ..."


Yes! That is what I was trying to say. Personally, I find this to be less "nuanced" than the majority of Book 1. This is not to say that Book 2 is void of nuance, of course, but Tolstoy has different objectives in Book 2, and he modifies his style slightly in order to accomplish them.

I also found myself re-reading many passages trying to figure out what was going on, which wasn't the case in book 1. I think this is because he is representing a dynamic situation in book 2, and this comes across in his style.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Like Lily, I was struck by the way our introduction to the Russian army (clearly a major character in the book) was not only amusing but, also, to my ear, rather satirical. I wonder if others agree. And, if so, why Tolstoy did this.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Much has been made already of the detail and accuracy with which Tolstoy describes people and situations. I would like to suggest something else I have been noticing since there is an example of it in Book Two, Chapter 5.

I have noticed that he also has a knack for stepping back from the characters and the narrative and giving concise, incisive commentaries. The voice is clearly the author's and he is making a universal observation rather than one related to individual characters.

Here is the example:

The enemy ceased firing, and that stern, threatening, inaccessible, and intangible line which separates two hostile armies was all the more clearly felt.

"One step beyond that boundary line which resembles the line dividing the living from the dead lies uncertainty, suffering, and death. And what is there? Who is there?- there beyond that field, that tree, that roof lit up by the sun? No one knows, but one wants to know. You fear and yet long to cross that line, and know that sooner or later it must be crossed and you will have to find out what is there, just as you will inevitably have to learn what lies the other side of death. But you are strong, healthy, cheerful, and excited, and are surrounded by other such excitedly animated and healthy men." So thinks, or at any rate feels, anyone who comes in sight of the enemy, and that feeling gives a particular glamour and glad keenness of impression to everything that takes place at such moments.

Another novel the group read also used this device a lot. That was Middlemarch. In that case I found the sidebar comments far more interesting than the characters and events of the story. Time will tell if I feel differently on this reading of War and Peace.

However, I thought the technique was worth noting and hope others will join me on the look out for these little gems.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

In contrast to the technique cited above, here is Tolstoy going deep into the mind of a single character. This is his description of Nicholas Rostov's first experience of combat.

Nicholas Rostov turned away and, as if searching for something, gazed into the distance, at the waters of the Danube, at the sky, and at the sun. How beautiful the sky looked; how blue, how calm, and how deep! How bright and glorious was the setting sun! With what soft glitter the waters of the distant Danube shone. And fairer still were the faraway blue mountains beyond the river, the nunnery, the mysterious gorges, and the pine forests veiled in the mist of their summits... There was peace and happiness... "I should wishing for nothing else, nothing, if only I were there," thought Rostov. "In myself alone and in that sunshine there is so much happiness; but here... groans, suffering, fear, and this uncertainty and hurry... There- they are shouting again, and again are all running back somewhere, and I shall run with them, and it, death, is here above me and around... Another instant and I shall never again see the sun, this water, that gorge!..."

At that instant the sun began to hide behind the clouds, and other stretchers came into view before Rostov. And the fear of death and of the stretchers, and love of the sun and of life, all merged into one feeling of sickening agitation.

"O Lord God! Thou who art in that heaven, save, forgive, and protect me!" Rostov whispered.


It seems to me that the ability to do both of these types of description so vividly is part of what distinguishes Tolstoy as a writer.


message 16: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Zeke wrote: "It seems to me that the ability to do both of these types of description so vividly is part of what distinguishes Tolstoy as a writer...."

Thanks for that insight, Zeke. I've not found anything Nabokov has written about W&P, but his wonderful lecture notes about Anna Karenina say that Russian people talk about its characters as if they were members of their family. I have come to consider that ability to write such whole characters as one of Tolstoy's distinguishing characteristics. It may be a source of that legendary tension with Shakespeare -- who wrote characters for the stage.


message 17: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Thomas wrote: "I also found myself re-reading many passages trying to figure out what was going on, which wasn't the case in book 1...."

Yes! At one point, I was convinced I had spotted an inconsistency -- I was wrong.

However, another way Nabokov's notes have helped me in reading Tolstoy is that he pointed out ways, major and minor, in which Tolstoy is able to manage his story and not be conventionally consistent. E.g., in A.K., his two main story lines do not move along the same time lines -- a big one for a novelist to pull off. On the detail side, A.K's famous red purse shrinks or grows in size to fit the needs of the immediate tale at hand. I now find knowing that Tolstoy is quite capable of pulling off these sleights of hand is useful in reading him.


message 18: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Thomas wrote: "Lily wrote: "It is almost as if Tolstoy is writing the script and stage directions for a movie. ..."


Yes! That is what I was trying to say. Personally, I find this to be less "nuanced" than the m..."


Because of the very visual and conversational way Tolstoy writes, I think it would be difficult to do a bad movie of War and Peace. Anna Karenina, yes, because people are looking for romance and it is not a romance. Tolstoy makes me see everything as I read or listen. I think the war parts are not as exciting as they could be because Tolstoy does not think war is exciting.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Laurele: I think the war parts are not as exciting as they could be because Tolstoy does not think war is exciting.

A fascinating hypothesis Laurele. It's too early in our schedule to probe this without risking spoilers. But I hope you will revisit the idea, or that I can think of a way to do so, because I think it will be relevant to Tolstoy's thoughts about human agency. For me, this is one of the big themes in the book, though I am pretty sure my understanding of it is incomplete.


message 20: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Zeke wrote: "Much has been made already of the detail and accuracy with which Tolstoy describes people and situations. I would like to suggest something else I have been noticing since there is an example of it..."

Tolstoy read and admired both George Eliot and Anthony Trollope, and both offered wonderful authorial intrusions into their narratives.


message 21: by Thomas (last edited Aug 29, 2013 05:32PM) (new)

Thomas | 4509 comments Zeke wrote: "This is his description of Nicholas Rostov's first experience of combat.

There was peace and happiness... "I should wishing for nothing else, nothing, if only I were there," thought Rostov. "In myself alone and in that sunshine there is so much happiness; but here... groans, suffering, fear, and this uncertainty and hurry... "


This is the sort of sentiment I would expect from a seasoned veteran, not a young patriot after his first taste of battle. Gazing into the distance and musing on the Danube seems a little premature to me. He's either an extremely sensitive soldier, or Tolstoy is showing his cards pretty early.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Good point Thomas. He seems to be a very sensitive kid. I was struck by his extreme response to the Emperor as well. (I'm keeping that intentionally vague because I can't remember off hand when that occurs and don't want to post a spoiler.


message 23: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Would someone help me understand Chapters IV and V?

First, I agree that Nikolai Rostov seems to be an especially sensitive kid -- but scarcely more careful with his money than his father, generous to a fault. (Overpays for his horse, offers to cover Denisov's gambling debts, leaves the apparently stolen gold coins with Telyanin.)

But, understandably, Nikolai's very prickly about his own honor. I don't quite understand the sequences between Denisov and the sergeant major, who seems to arrive at the same time as Lt. Telyanin and with orders(?), but is he the same person to whom Denisov owes card playing debts? No one apparently likes the lieutenant, but Denisov seems to try to stop Rostov from pursuing him when Nikolai realizes Telyanin must have taken the purse with the gold coins. Next, the scenario plays out at the road house where Telyanin seems to acknowledge what he did, but Rostov seems to decide the stealing was from need and throws back the purse.

Then, at the beginning of Chapter V, Rostov seems to be in trouble with his comrades, perhaps for telling what happened in front of officers? It is not clear to me whether Denisov has paid his gambling debts and, if so, what his source of money was. Rostov still seems to be accused of lying, but now by the regimental commander, Bogdanych. It sounds as if the staff captain is asking Nikolai to help hush up the whole affair by apologizing to Bogdanych, which Rostov is refusing to do. (I presume Telyanin is the "black- guard" who reported himself sick and was "struck off.") Denisov mostly just stands by and lets the young Count get his initiation in loyalty to the unit, although he does call him "a good lad" at the point they think Nikolai will capitulate and apologize, which he then continues to refuse to do, until they are interrupted and take on the affairs of going to war.

How far off is that interpretation?


message 24: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Here are Michael Hodge's final thoughts on Book 2:

http://relentlesspursuit.wordpress.co...


message 25: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4509 comments Lily wrote: "Then, at the beginning of Chapter V, Rostov seems to be in trouble with his comrades, perhaps for telling what happened in front of officers?..."

This was my understanding as well. Rostov hasn't yet learned that the honor of the corps comes before his personal honor -- and perhaps Tolstoy is saying something here about the nature of honor in the barracks. Rostov seems to have a rather naive and/or idealistic vision of what soldiering is, as one might expect from a young man of privilege.


message 26: by Wendel (new)

Wendel (wendelman) | 609 comments Wikipedia has as a lemma on the Battle of Schöngrabern: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_o...

It's interesting to see how Tolstoy changes history into an epic while keeping up the appearance of objectivity.


message 27: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments Laurele wrote: "There is a big change of setting and action from book 1 to book 2, but does Tolstoy's writing style change? "

In listening, it sounds different.

Somehow...the scenes in Book 2 seem to have more ... immediacy... about them. I felt more "there."

In Book 1 I felt more as though I were peeking into the room and seeing and hearing the characters. In Book 2, so far, I feel as though I were right there.


message 28: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments Prince Andrew has found himself in this war.

scarcely a trace was left of his former affected languor and indolence...

He's doing something of value. He's happier. The non-engagement of the salons had been eating away at him. He has discovered that the charms which drew him to marry aren't the traits that warrant his respect...

Not really surprising when you think of how he and his sister were raised. He has reconnected with his father with real engagement... Writing him every day. Reaffirmng to himsef a d hs father, I think, his real values.

He's finished with just going through the motions and looking to make remarks that are " worth" repeating. He wants real worth in his life. He wants to be alive for real.

I thought his short speech said quite a bit:

" Don't you understand that we either [before Kirkegaard, but with something of the Either-Or about it] we are officers serving our Tsar and our country, rejoicing in the successes and grieving at the misfortunes of our common cause, or we are merely lackeys who care nothing for their master's business." ( end of chapter 2).


message 29: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments Lily, I have discovered the value of your reading/ listening regimen. Audio alone is insufficient. I found an old paperback for visual backup.


message 30: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Hanskoebi wrote: "I've really enjoyed reading chapter XII. In the preceding chapters we are introduced to Bilibin and his circle, which reminded me of Petersburg's high society, although this time we are 'dans ce vi..."

I also saw a surprising (to me) amount of socializing among the officers. Something I might have expected if they were back in Petersburg or Moscow, but not at the front awaiting battle. But they seem to be more interested in drinking, gambling, and buying and selling horses than they are in preparing for battle. It was a very different kind of war than we've seen in the past century.


message 31: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments It's early in the book yet, but one thing I have noticed is that we seem to be spending our lives almost entirely among the nobility and upper classes. The servants and serfs don't seem to me to have any characters, they seem essentially nothing more to Tolstoy than background or machines. Have we even learned any of their names?

This surprises me a bit given the reputation Tolstoy has of sympathizing with his serfs and the non-elite classes.

I'll be watching as the reading progresses to see whether we ever get to actually know any of the non-elite, non-officer class of Russians. Maybe I'm spoiled a bit by reading Dickens at the same time as Tolstoy; he certainly has a wide range of classes among his major characters, and even Austen makes recognizable people out of the non-gentry. But so far, I don't see that in Tolstoy.


message 32: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Laurele wrote: "Great observations, Hanskoebi and Kyle. Tolstoy can be quite funny, can't he? And philosophic and descriptive and conversational. I'm beginning to think this is a book about everything."

In lieu of being a novel? [g]


message 33: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Thomas wrote: "It seems to me that Tolstoy doesn't write with the same kind of nuance in book 2 as he does in book 1. I suppose the subject material is not conducive to this in book 2, nor is the fact that the book focuses on men at war and the brutish side of masculinity. "

That's a really nice comment. It led me to think about the contrast between the opening sections of Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 1 opens with Anna Pavlovna's soiree, elegant, cultured, largely feminine, a way to graciously introduce us to the characters around whom Book 1 will center. And we are shown how easily and seamlessly Anna manages the event, moving people here and there, grouping them for the best effect.

Book 2 opens with the inspection. Again, a gathering which provides an easy way to introduce us to many of the people who will be the focus of this war section. But this is a manly gathering, out in the field, none of the comforts of the soiree, but also a well structured, well managed event with people knowing their places and carefully organized groupings.

It's an interesting parallel, making clear to us that we have entered a very different world now.


message 34: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Some wonderful comments throughout this section. Thx, all!

Eman, I will point out that we do know the name of Prince Bolkonsky's man-servant, Tikhon. But he is almost the exception that proves the rule, if one takes a look down the character list as Laurele gave it to us at the beginning.


message 35: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Adelle wrote: "Lily, I have discovered the value of your reading/ listening regimen. Audio alone is insufficient. I found an old paperback for visual backup."

Thx, Adelle. As/if you play with it, I hope you'll find many combinations useful -- sometimes to make the audio clearer, sometimes the text; others to contrast and gain the nuances of different translations; other times just to rest the eyes, but sorta read....


message 36: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments You raised an interesting point, Eman.

We have Dostoyevsky's characters...many of them poor or at least not in the upper tier. But they could at least write.

A non-literate serf couldn't write about his own life. And someone higher up the social scale could never write about that life from the perspective of the characters themselves; he could only write about them as an observer.

Dickens had the "advantage" of having actually been quite poor.

Or am I mistaken? I'm trying to think of other early writers ( you know, prior to more-or-less universal education) who wrote poor characters.


message 37: by Adelle (last edited Sep 06, 2013 01:14PM) (new)

Adelle | 148 comments What an intriguing little paragraph in chapter 3--or so I found it. If you don't like supposition, then you might want to skip this post. I LOVE wondering about the little details that are buried between the lines. OK. I'll hide it...just in case.





"Rostov thrust the purse under the pillow and shook the damp little hand which was offered him. Telyanin for some reason had been transferred from the Guards just before this campaign. He behaved very well in the regiment but was not liked; Rostov especially detested him and was unable to overcome or conceal his groundless antipathy to the man."

(view spoiler)


message 38: by Adelle (last edited Sep 06, 2013 02:40PM) (new)

Adelle | 148 comments Chapter 4. I thought there were some similarities between this scene and the scene of the salon in Book 1.

1) Prettying things up instead of speaking stark truths.

The staff captain says, "and Bogdanich shuts you up."

Rostov: "He did not 'shut me up', he said I was telling an 'untruth'."

Bogdanich used the word 'untruth' instead of 'lie.'
The staff captain softens this even further by saying that Bogdanish had 'shut him up.'


2)In the salon the objective was not an open exchange of information and unvarnished conversation. The objective was a pleasant evening. Here now the objective is to "smooth the thing over."


3) In the salon and here the rules take precedence over any individual and over any actual facts. When the staff captain vociferates "It's not right...I always stick to mother right!" He means not whether that the facts themselves are right, but that the proper rules of how to behave have been followed---THAT is right.


message 39: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Adelle wrote: "...Is Telyanin lower on the social scale and has he decided to steal the purse to hurt them back? I mean, he doesn't really need the money, right?..."

Well, Rostov does seem to conclude that Telyanin does need the money, as he throws the purse back to him. At that point, Nikolai reminds me of his mother, when she asks for money of her husband to fund Anna M's son Boris. Soft hearts, not particularly tested by adversity.

Interesting -- so many are pointing out the parallels and contrasts Tolstoy makes between characters, using them as foils for each other. Perhaps to emphasize an idea or point he wants to make as much as to develop his characters per se?


message 40: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments Possibly. Rostov might have thought that.... but as you say, it "seems" to conclude that... but we don't know that for sure.

All we know is that Rostov "said" "IF you need it, take the money."

There's that if in there...so maybe Rostov hasn't made up his mind as to whether or not T needs the money. But Rostov has pitied T. CERTAINLY doesn't want T to touch him... but threw the money to him.

I post this because I don't know how the rest of the book goes. I am suspect of what the characters say to one another. So often they have said one thing while thinking another. So I'm hedging my bets.

I think he despises Telyanin even more than he did before. Now he see Telyanin as a man without honor. "O God," he said with tears in his eyes, "how could you do it?"

I wonder about the tears? Any ideas on that???

I like your reminder of Niolai's mother. I will have to keep her in mind when I think of Rostov. Mmm. His father, too. Rostov's father may very well have suspected that his wife was giving money away. Yes, good to keep in mind.


message 41: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Adelle wrote: 1) Prettying things up instead of speaking stark truths.

The staff captain says, "and Bogdanich shuts you up."

Rostov: "He did not 'shut me up', he said I was telling an 'untruth'."

Bogdanich used the word 'untruth' instead of 'lie.'
The staff captain softens this even further by saying that Bogdanish had 'shut him up.'
"


That's an interesting point, but we may want to be a wee bit careful about reading too much nuance into language. These word choices are those of the translator, and while one hopes that they are accurately reflecting the subtleties of the language, it's also possible that in the Russian there isn't the difference between lie and untruth. I have no idea, knowing no Russian at all, what the reality is, but I'm sometimes a wee bit cautious about reading too much into individual word choices by the translator.

JMHO.


message 42: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments Well, There's no point in reading the book if I have to second guess what I can accept as appropriately and admirably nuanced (i.e. Book 1) and what is "too much nuanced" and not worthy of admiration (i.e. apparently this example here in Book 2). I simply have to read with full faith and confidence in the translator.


message 43: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4509 comments Patrice wrote: "I kind of took that anecdote at face value. I thought the point was that Telyanin was not honorable and could not be trusted. A fighting force has to be unified. there has to be loyalty and purp..."

This was my take as well. Tolstoy is very good at supplying just enough detail to let the reader see a character without being too explicit, hence the unexplained reason why Telyanin gets shifted around, and all the other hints Tolstoy gives us. Everyone agrees that Telyanin is dishonorable and disgusting. The reason he is in the scene, I think, is that Tolstoy wants to show Rostov's reaction to him. He shows us Rostov's sincere passion for honor, and the fact that he has some difficulties controlling this passion is a mark of his character. Is Rostov's passion a "fatal flaw"? I'm not sure yet, but it gets him into a bit of trouble here.


message 44: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Patrice wrote: "Is this what you meant, Lily, by showing and not telling? ..."

Well, in the particular case I was looking at, I felt as if Tolstoy was giving us his judgment on the character, whereas he had already given us enough in description and actions that such was not necessary. Still, I find it fun once in awhile to see Tolstoy's own perspective creeping in -- one just rather needs to keep straight which is author and which is the story/character at hand. Tolstoy is so good that it is easy for him to get by with certain things that might be jarring with another author.


message 45: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Adelle wrote: "Well, There's no point in reading the book if I have to second guess what I can accept as appropriately and admirably nuanced (i.e. Book 1) and what is "too much nuanced" and not worthy of admirati..."

Well, Adelle, my own reaction was that you accurately caught the overall tenor of the piece, but that Eman makes an appropriate point about being wary of depending upon a single word in a translation. We catch Nikolai soon again on the distinctions between "truth," "untruth," and "lying" -- this time with a different personality making judgments. Let's keep in mind Thomas's comments @49. Personally, I haven't quite decided myself where I come down on Nikolai or why; to me, there seem to be aspects of him that are hinted by the text but not quite captured, mostly having to do with who he is, given the family and privileges he has had.


message 46: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments Well, yes, it's possible---even probable--that some words don't translate well.

But my take is that great novels are well-crafted; the words are carefully chosen. It's not the overview, not the summary, that I'm after. I like the little details, the word choice.

So I'm just going to have to embrace the Maudes. I rather like that there were two of them working on the translations.

(Plan on making it through Book 2 this afternoon.)


message 47: by Lily (last edited Sep 07, 2013 03:40PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Adelle wrote: "So I'm just going to have to embrace the Maudes. I rather like that there were two of them working on the translations. ..."

P&V worked as a team, too. Nabokov, for Eugene Onegin, was fastidious about word selection, too much so in the views of some critics.

I don't think we are saying don't enjoy the word choices in translations, just sometimes it is useful to remember that they are the choices of the translator rather than of the original author. (Who among us does not prefer at least one verse of the Bible in the King James version, regardless of how much more faithful to source documents a later translation may be?)


message 48: by Cass (last edited Sep 12, 2013 07:21PM) (new)

Cass | 533 comments Can someone clarify.

My understanding is that Austria refused to take part in the war. The Russian army first attacked Austria, in order to 'persaude' them to join the war against Napoleon.

General Mack was an Austrian General, he arrived to surrender to the Russians, thus uniting the Russians and Austrians against the French.

Do I have that right?


message 49: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4509 comments I'm a little sketchy on the Napoleonic wars, but from what I understand, Austria joined the UK-Russian alliance earlier in 1805, before the battle of Ulm. So Russia did not need to be persuaded exactly. The Russian army was on its way to join forces with the Austrians after the Austrians invaded Bavaria but the armies failed to meet in time, and we see the consequences of that in the scene with "the unfortunate Mack."

Napoleon was more concerned with invading England at the time of the Austrian invasion and most of his army was stationed at Boulogne. He turned the army south to counter the Austrian advance, so in a way Austria was responsible for the battles of Ulm and Austerlitz. If left alone, Napoleon would probably have continued to fixate on the English.


message 50: by Cass (new)

Cass | 533 comments Laurele wrote: "There is a big change of setting and action from book 1 to book 2, but does Tolstoy's writing style change? For that matter, what IS Tolstoy's writing style?"

For me Tolstoy's great skill is his ability to accurately describe a real person. This is his writing style, he tells a plain story but the reader sees so much that they can relate to. It is the depth of characters that pull you in.

So I don't think the writing style changed at all. Both books are full of amazing incidents in which Tolstoy describes his characters with amazing accuracy.

I mean wasn't the description of Rostov wonderful. His first battle experience, and the egotistical nature of his thoughts, thinking he was being sent as a form of vengeance. His youthfulness is so well written.

Bagration, Prince Andrew, Captain Tushin, they are amazingly written.


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