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Archived 2015 Group Reads > War and Peace, Week 4

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message 1: by Jess :) (last edited Feb 01, 2015 01:11PM) (new)

Jess :) Feel free to discuss the Week 4 section: Book 1, Part 2, chapters 1-9. For this week, the chapter division in Maude seem to agree with P&V and Garnett.

With the opening of Part 2, we step into the "War" part of War and Peace. What are your overall impressions of this section? Do you enjoy the change of pace, or do you long for more hobnobbing in Petersburg?

Chapters 1-3

At the open of Part 2, Russian troops are stationed in and around Braunau on the Austria / Germany boarder. We witness the arrival of one regiment and its subsequent inspection by Commander in Chief Kutuzov. Though the troops have not yet seen combat, they have marched over 1,000 miles. The regiment does their best to look held together, but can't hide the miserable condition of their footwear. Do you appreciate their efforts?

Dolokhov, Pierre's rowdy friend, is a member of the regiment. We learn that he has -- surprise -- gotten into some trouble with the army officers and has been demoted. What do you make of his interactions with his commanding officers? Does he seem insubordinate? Or do you think he is just holding onto his dignity?

We meet Andrei, who, thanks to his father's letter of introduction, is now a staff officer working directly under Kutuzov. Andrei now seems energetic and full of life--has he finally found his place? Do you expect his enthusiasm to continue was the War drags on?

We're introduced to Andrei's Comrade Nestvisky, another staff officer, and also the hussar officer Zherkov. Zherkov is openly mocking officers in the regiment under inspection, much to the delight of Nestvisky. What do you make of these two?

Later, we witness the arrival of Austrian General Mack after the Austians' defeat at the Battle of Ulm. Perhaps not understanding the gravity of the situation, Zherkov makes light of Mack's injuries. Andrei strongly reprimands Zherkov and makes a point of insulting Zherkov. Do you think Andrei is out of line here?

Chapters 4-5

Nikolai Rostov is also stationed near Braunau as an ensign. Rostov is well liked and has even won the favor of his squadron commander, Vaska Denisov. Do you think Nikolai is liked for his personality? How much does his care-free attitude toward money factor in?

We learn that Denisov is a rowdy gambler and in debt. What are you first impressions of Denisov? Does he have redeeming qualities?

Nikolai discovers that Telyanin, a hussar officer, has stolen money from Denisov. Instead of retrieving the money, Nikolai thrusts it back at Telyanin. Why do you think he does this?

We learn that Nikolai has made waves by speaking to the general about Telyanin. He made accusations in front of other officers, without thinking of the ramifications. He could alleviate the situation by apologizing, but will not. Is Nikolai in the right here?

Chapters 6-9

Entry 15.


message 2: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) I shall have to be careful what I say here as I have the Maude translation and it is divided up differently, so I don't know where I'm supposed to be. Suffice to say that I enjoyed this beginning of the war section much more than I imagined.

The characters were still to the forefront. I particularly liked the officer with the 'r' problem. He reminded me of Michael Palin's character in 'The Life of Brian'. His speech impediment was superb. Light relief in the midst of impending doom is not easy to do.


message 3: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) E :) wrote: "We meet Andrei, who, thanks to his father's letter of introduction, is now a staff officer working directly under Kutuzov. Andrei now seems energetic and full of life--has he finally found his place? Do you expect his enthusiasm to continue was the War drags on? "

I good point, E:)

I also think that Andrei is more comfortable in the company of men rather than women. He seems to be on intellectual par with the officers from the headquarters because, I am nearly sure about it, he finds women shallow and intellectually slow.

It is a very beneficial environment for him, and he does indeed feel more sure-foot there.


message 4: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) Sorry E:), I'm now struggling with chapter divisions in my book by Maude and my Kindle also by Maude! I'm sure that you're right about the Maude tree book. I'm just a bit confused as to why the Kindle version is split up differently. I'll just have to keep a close eye on how far I have read! :D


message 5: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 247 comments I don't have much to comment on these chapters. We meet Denisov, and he seems like a good enough chap, a gambler but not a jerk. I want to learn more about him.

Nicholas' notion of honor is immature, as if he has read too many adventure stories, but he learns a bit about war and reckless honor by the end of these chapters. Of course he is only 18, or is he younger? And what's with an 18-year-old ensign challenging a much older colonel?

I must admit I don't understand the command structure in the Russian army of this era. I'm sure royalty skews that structure, but still. Can anyone say anything to an officer (I'm thinking of Dolokov [sp?] telling his general he won't be talked to that way)?

Andrei's happiness at being where it's happening seems short lived.


message 6: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) My comments are on the first 3 chapters (trying to comment as I go so I remember better). I was just getting used to the many characters in the drawing rooms of Moscow and St Petersburg --- but since War is in the title not a big surprise that this section take us to war.

I wish that there was a map with the book so we could really see the distances.

E:) I agree that Andrei does seem more in his element --- apparently people still don't like him, but he seems efficient and wants to do a good job. I think his re-dress of Zherkov was very appropriate. As Zulfiya points out --- he seems to prefer the company of men --- so now I'm wondering if his mother left them.

I am also curious as to what Dolokhov did to get demoted. He certainly does not fit in with all the enlisted men.

I did find it interesting that for the inspection and through the letter, it seems like they really don't want to engage because they are playing up the poor state of their forces.


message 7: by Jess :) (new)

Jess :) Hilary wrote: "Sorry E:), I'm now struggling with chapter divisions in my book by Maude and my Kindle also by Maude! I'm sure that you're right about the Maude tree book. I'm just a bit confused as to why the K..."

Hilary -- That's so odd about the chapter divisions! The only Maude translation that I have on hand is the one from Project Gutenberg. You could check there.


message 8: by Jess :) (new)

Jess :) JoLene wrote: "Andrei does seem more in his element --- apparently people still don't like him, but he seems efficient and wants to do a good job. I think his re-dress of Zherkov was very appropriate. ..."

I agree with you Jolene -- Zherkov was way out of line! Still, incidents like this one can't earn Andrei many popularity points. I like how Andrei makes a point of calling Zherkov a child while Z is still within earshot. I suppose it's not surprising that Andrei is described as sulky ;)


message 9: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) Thank you E:). I've never used Gutenberg and in fact I'm a newbie when it comes to Kindle. I simply downloaded the first copy of W & P which happened to be Maude as well. I'll see if I can access Gutenberg, but no worries. I'm sure that it'll sort out in the end. Thanks for your help. :-}


message 10: by Karen (new)

Karen Frances | 32 comments I was not convinced that the army could have cleaned up so quickly under such circumstances. The complaints about the boots made me smile as newly released papers revealed that after a visit to inspect the British troops in Northern Ireland Margaret Thatcher complained to the MOD about their boots. She was furious at the reply she received.
Dolokhov seems to be pushing his luck. He appears insolent unless the rest of the infantry understand his social position relative to their's. Certainly the senior officers are surprisingly forgiving of the the way that he speaks to them, although there is a reference to his 'friends in high places'.


message 11: by HeyT (new)

HeyT I think Andrei is in his element in the army. His father runs his household very militaristically so I think that Andrei probably feels very comfortable in that environment.


message 12: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) Comments on Chapters 4-5.
The episode with Rostov was a bit strange. He is obviously a happy person, and isn't as concerned about money since he is a good tipper. I'm not sure as to why he gives the money back from Talyanin. I don't think we heard enough of a back story from Talyanin to warrant Rostov feeling sorry for him. Given his good-hearted nature, it wouldn't surprise me that he would let him keep the money ---- but then, why would you tell the officers? Also, I'm not sure why this brought shame on the whole regiment.

Our first knowledge of Denison is that he is a gambler, so our first impression isn't positive, but given his speech impediment, he almost comes off as comic relief.


message 13: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) OK -- I finished up the section.

I'm not finding the war part particularly engaging. I think partly because I'm not sure who will be important characters (besides the people that we have already met).

I didn't find the battle scene particularly well written (although I have noticed that I prefer the P&V translation to the Maudes).

Once again we get an illustration of how ego-centric Andrei is with his anticipation of his news of winning the battle and the reception of the news.


message 14: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) I haven't finished this section yet. I'm also getting a bit bogged down with the war, JoLene. I found it surprisingly better in the lead up to the troops actually getting ready for war. Looking forward to the 'peace' (or semblance of) bit again!


message 15: by Jess :) (new)

Jess :) Chapter 6-9

This section relates the first taste of combat for both Nikolai and Andrei.

Kutuzov and the 35,000 man Russian army are retreating toward Vienna. During the retreat, Nikolai Rostov's regiment of hussars is tasked with destroying the bridge at Enns. Thus his regiment is the last to cross and is bombarded by French.

Rostov enters the scene proud and sure of himself. Throughout the chaos of the bombardment, Rostov is self absorbed; he thinks that he is being individually tested and observed. What do you make of Rostov's attitude?

---

Andrei is involved in an attack against the French (Mortier's division). The Russians were victorious, but this was in no way a turning point for the campaign. Andrei was attached to Austrian general Schmidt during the attack. We learn that Schmidt was killed, and that Andrei's horse was shot out from under him.

Andrei is tasked with relaying the news of the battle to Austrian Emperor Franz. He feels that his report is of utmost importance, and further, he is proud of the Russian victory. Andrei is dismayed when he is not received with priority and when the Austrians are not rejoicing at the report. This probably shouldn't have come as a shock -- after all, the Austrian general was killed and the battle was not decisive. Does Andrei also seem self absorbed?

--

Do you think that Andrei is as naive as Nikolai, or are their attitudes somehow different? Are their attitudes the result of privileged and sheltered upbringings, or are these experiences only natural?


message 16: by Renee (new)

Renee M I've been struck by how young they seem. Pierre, too. All seem to be figuring out how to handle themselves and handle things as adults, although I don't know that they are actually chronologically youthful.


message 17: by Jess :) (new)

Jess :) JoLene wrote: "I think partly because I'm not sure who will be important characters (besides the people that we have already met)...."

There is a lot going on -- try not to get too bogged down. I really don't think it's possible to retain all of the details!

The good news is that, if a character becomes important later on, it's relatively easy to do a scan through the book for the name -- and it's even easier search on a Kindle book or over Project Gutenberg's online text!

The first time I read this, I kept a list of names with page numbers. I might not be sure whether Lieutenant Telyanin would play an important role -- but if he popped up again, I knew where to look back to jog my memory. This tactic helped me to worry less about the details and enjoy the story more. :)


message 18: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) Thanks for that advice, E:). I'm having to struggle against my desire for detail as I know that W & P wont work for me otherwise.


message 19: by Jess :) (new)

Jess :) Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Can anyone say anything to an officer (I'm thinking of Dolokov [sp?] telling his general he won't be talked to that way)?..."

Xan, this is a really good question. And I agree with you -- it's surprising to me that Dolokhov and Rostov can get away with so much talkback.

I was curious about the command structure too and found some related information here: Russian Army of the Napoleonic Wars. I'm not sure that this at all answers your question, but it's useful information in any case!

It seems that the lower ranking officers, especially in the infantry, were uneducated and not well respected.


message 20: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) Good advice E).... I am mostly relying on my Kindle's search feature.

Renee, I agree that every one seems really young, but except for Rostov, I thought they would be in their late 20's. I think that the army structure and the nobility structure were sometimes at odds, so their seems to be instances of insubornation of the nobility.


message 21: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 247 comments E :) wrote: "Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Can anyone say anything to an officer (I'm thinking of Dolokov [sp?] telling his general he won't be talked to that way)?..."

Thanks, E), I'll read that before moving on. I found this: more specifics on education levels in office corp.

http://tinyurl.com/kxt2yzg


message 22: by Anne (new)

Anne | 137 comments I got distracted by other books for a few weeks, so I'm trying to catch up. I finished this section tonight.

My thoughts:

Although I don't normally like reading about war (I'm basically a pacifist), this section kept my interest. Tolstoy did a good job of showing the disorder, excitement, and boredom that are part of war.

I think Andrei is excited by the newness of war, but will quickly grow tired of it (just like everything else).

My translator did a rather clumsy job of translating the German. I actually know German, and there are better ways to translate it. Maybe English hadn't stolen the word "naive" yet when he was writing? I seriously doubt it. Still, there can't be that many people who know Russian, German, French, and English. I can't criticize his French or Russian since I don't know those languages.


message 23: by Deana (new)

Deana (ablotial) Anne, I also got distracted and am busily catching up :)

This war section did not keep my interest as well as the first part in the book did - I guess I like reading about the "games" in high society more than I do the war. I get caught up in all these places I don't know anything about, the organization of the army, etc. And an entirely new (mostly) cast of characters to learn. I'm sure the important ones will stand out eventually, like they did in the society section, but for now it's still a bit overwhelming.

I wish they had told us what Dolokhov had done to get in trouble, though of course I am not surprised that he did get in trouble in the first place. Maybe the military will straighten him out a bit and teach him some respect.

Andrei is definitely a different person here, and seems to have come into his own in this new position. I do wonder how much of it is just due to a change of pace and whether it will rub off eventually. I did notice he has not once given thought to his wife and eventual baby, though he thinks of his father often.

I agree with JoLene's comment above regarding Rostov - given the situation, I guess I understand why he threw the money back at Talyanin... after all Denisov will probably just gamble it away anyway. But then why bother to rat him out? At first, I thought they were just referring to when Rostov kept saying "I know who has taken it" over and over again, when Denisov mentioned that only they and "the lieutenant" had been in the room, so people figured out he must mean Talyanin. But in the later chapter it is implied that he was much more direct about it, and in front of many more people.


message 24: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie Renee wrote: "I've been struck by how young they seem. Pierre, too. All seem to be figuring out how to handle themselves and handle things as adults, although I don't know that they are actually chronologically youthful."

I think it said that Pierre was sent abroad (to France?) when he was eight or ten, and came back to Russia when he was 20, a few months before the book begins. And Rostov is 18? So yes, I think our main characters are "coming of age" a bit.


message 25: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie JoLene wrote: "I am also curious as to what Dolokhov did to get demoted. He certainly does not fit in with all the enlisted men."

At the Rostovs' dinner party (back in Week 1, Chapter 7), the Countess and Anna Mihalovna are chatting with guests, and mention why Dolokhov was reduced to the ranks: it was because of the bear incident.

He [Pierre Bezuhov] got into bad company, Prince Vasili's son, this Pierre and a certain young man named Dolohov, they say... And two of them have had to suffer for it - Dolohov has been reduced to the ranks, and Bezuhov's son sent back to Moscow. Anatole Kuragin's part in the affair his father managed to hush up, but even so he has been ordered out of Petersburg.
...
The three of them somehow got hold of a bear, took the bear in a carriage with them and set off to visit some actresses. The police hurried to interfere, and they seized a police officer, tied him back to back to the bear and then threw the bear into the Moyka. And there was the bear swimming about with the policeman on his back!



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