Discovering Russian Literature discussion

41 views
Group Reads Archive - 2012 > War and Peace-Book Four: 1806 (June 11-June 18)

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by D. A. (new)

D. A. | 34 comments Book Four is a short section and I believe most of us can finish it in a week's time. I've started it and am looking forward to your comments.

Happy Reading!!!


message 2: by D. A. (new)

D. A. | 34 comments This may have been a shorter section, but it was packed. On more than one occasion I would pause and look up from my book thinking, "did I just read that right?".

I'm of the mind that Tolstoy did this on purpose, in an effort to escalate the story. It appeared that although there was a reprieve in the war against Napolean for our characters, the war within themselves and the tensions amongst them have flared.

Your thoughts?


message 3: by dely (new)

dely | 340 comments It is a part that helps us to know always better the characters: the impulsivity of Pierre, the badness of Dolochov, the inexperience of Nikolaj and the changing inside Andrej.
I have only 150 pages left to finish the whole work so I don't want to say too much because I know how the characters change (if they change) and what will happen. The only thing I can say is that the whole writing of Tolstoj in W&P is in this way: there are escalations that hold your attention and then it goes again downhill and the story is dragging and I had some difficulty to hold my attention. There is an alternation of war/strategies and drawing rooms but both are helpfull to understand the characters and the Russian folk and the thoughts of Tolstoj.
I can't wait to finish it, the third volume is really boring and dragging!


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Besides violence on the battlefield there is also violence in the homes, yes, particularly with Pierre's "war" within himself and also Andrey. I was not particularly interested in Pierre trying to shoot Dolohov I was more interested in Liza's death.

I felt sorry for Liza. She is a poor victim of an empty society and dies without having known the substance of life. She lived like Andrey's doll-like princess wife. Then her death makes Andrey to re reexamine the quality of life, famous theme of Tolstoy. Also ironically I think, he does it on purpose, Tolstoy i mean, by killing off Liza, he gives freedom to Andrey whose now with a new understanding of life and death, may find his search for meaning in both, let's see.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

And about Chapters 10–16, it's just crazy. Actually the entire book is crazy, crazy actions and decisions. This is what: Dolohov falls in love with Sonya??
Denisov is captivated by Natasha.
Nikolay neglects Sonya in order to amuse himself as young men of his station do???
Pierre, who never fired a pistol before, wounds his rival, an officer???
Dolohov weeps at having to face his"adored angel" / his mother??? Talk about mom issues ;)
Pierre leaves Helen having made over more than half his property to her???

The whole thing is crazy :D I'm moving on the next part. If someone can please explain the above


message 6: by dely (last edited Jun 18, 2012 03:07AM) (new)

dely | 340 comments Shanez wrote: "Dolohov falls in love with Sonya??"

Yes. He thinks she is pure and not at all like all the other women of the drawing rooms he is used to attend.

Denisov is captivated by Natasha.

Yes, this too.

Nikolay neglects Sonya in order to amuse himself as young men of his station do???

I don't remember very good but it seems to me that he prefers to amuse himself still a little bit conducing mundane life seen that he is young instead of making a promise of marriage. But I don't remember that he wanted to amuse himself with Sonja because deep in his heart he loves her and respects her.

Pierre, who never fired a pistol before, wounds his rival, an officer???

In my opinion Pierre is ridiculous but in a lovely way. I feel sorry for him because he never knows how to behave; he isn't able to understand what is right and what is wrong and does the wrong thing in the wrong moment. He is also too impulsive and so he goes from one mood to another: from one side he has a tender heart but then he can become strong and angry like a beast. I can't blame him for his behaviour because he is not a bad person, he is only a little bit "stupid" or naive.
Dolochov isn't so bad as we think and he didn't want to hurt Pierre. I think that for Dolochov it was only a funny thing to do, he is unconsciously brave and does dangerous things without thinking about the danger. I also think that he was sure that Pierre wouldn't kill him.
Mom is always the mom, everywhere! :D


message 7: by Marie (new)

Marie | 43 comments Shanez wrote: "Dolohov weeps at having to face his"adored angel" / his mother??? Talk about mom issues ;)..."

I have read an old translation from Everyman's edition, I liked it but I'm not sure of the translators of that one. May be Maude or Garnett, however I'm guessing P/V will be better, unfortunately I couldn't find one.

These questions bring memories I'll try to answer some. Dolohov is an interesting character. They all are, even the Kuragins. :) War and Peace is a great achievement, blending the historical, social, moral, psychological and personal in its broad depiction of human insight and experience.

Dolohov perhaps is a mamma's boy, too attached to his mother and cannot love another woman. Then again calling his mother "adored angel" might suggest she is virtuous, morally upright unlike him. Perhaps this is why as Dely has explained, he liked Sonya. His pride was hurt when he was rejected and he did take that out on Nikolai financially crippling the Rostovs. He is for revenge. These moral/immoral issues always play a key role in Tolstoy's novels.

Just think about it, Pierre also wanted revenge and only after shooting Dolohov he realized his error. Rather than killing a man for a shallow woman, he should leave her, why keep trouble near you and commit crimes.

Coming back to Dolohov and his mother, perhaps this has a very little or no importance at all, but it shows family relationships.

The center of Tolstoy's life was family, which he celebrated War and Peace. He tells the stories of several families in Russia. A different note emerged in Anna Karenina . Here, too, Tolstoy focused on families but this time emphasized an individual's conflict with society's norms.

Another thing is for Tolstoy's beliefs was rooted in a rationalistic form of Christianity in which moral behavior was supremely important. It's there in his biography. Tolstoy has added this new-found faith in fiction, he participated in debates on a large number of political and social issues, generally at odds with the government. His advocacy of nonresistance to evil attracted many followers and later had a profound influence on Mahatma Gandhi and, through him, even Martin Luther King, Jr. He was so well known to this, his death was headline news throughout the world.


message 8: by Marie (last edited Jun 18, 2012 08:59AM) (new)

Marie | 43 comments dely wrote: "Pierre, who never fired a pistol before, wounds his rival, an officer???

In my opinion Pierre is ridiculous but in a lovely way. I feel sorry for him because he never knows how to behave; he isn't able to understand what is right and what is wrong and does the wrong thing in the wrong moment. ..."


I agree with you completely about Pierre! :D Waht a character! Then the two protagonists, Pierre Bezuhov and Andrey Bolkonsky are quite the opposites. Perhaps both are Tolstoy, may be there are others who has certain qualities of Tolstoy. Pierre is a man in search of himself, a man who thirsts to learn all he can about life and, in so doing, crying to discover himself so we are going to expect more strange things from him ;)

Who is the most annoying character for now? For me, the first three is Prince Andrey's father (I just don't get him..) Vasili Kuragin and his wife(who is not mentioned in the book... but these two much had being perfect parents to do that much damage to the children!!! ha ha ha :P I mean both Anatole and Helene are beyond saving.

Is Helene a common name in Russia? I wonder if Tolstoy was thinking of Helen of Troy when he wrote his character.


message 9: by dely (last edited Jun 18, 2012 11:15PM) (new)

dely | 340 comments Marie wrote: "His advocacy of nonresistance to evil attracted many followers and later had a profound influence on Mahatma Gandhi and, through him, even Martin Luther King, Jr."

I can't say that Gandhi was a follower of Tolstoj or has been influenced by him :D
I don't know if Gandhi has read W&P but by sure he has read (and studied) the Bhagavad Gita.
Gandhi followed "ahimsa" and this is one of the five parts of the "yama", the first step of the Raja-Yoga of Patanjali. It is part of the Hindu philosophy who exists since (roughly) 4000 years b.C.
But you have made an interesting connection because reading W&P (I must only read the two epilogues and then I am finished) I have found a lot of points in common between Tolstoj and the philosophy of yoga:
1) this unlimited love for everybody, this get lost in the One (God) and see God in everything also in the persons who are unpleasant or in nature.
2) The love for simplicity (aparigraha, no possession, part of the "yama") and for the truth (satya, part of the "yama") as Gandhi.
3) this searching for God everywhere except that in ourselves. Only if we find him in ourselves then we can see Him everywhere. Then we can surreder to Him (Ishvara pranidhana, part of "niyama" who is the second step of the Raja-Yoga)
4) if we do this, we don't need possession (Aparigraha, part of the yama) and we can live peacefully and with simplicity.

But there is also much more than this, but all these things don't start with Tolstoj, they already existed.


Pierre and Andrej complement each other in my opinion. They are different but both are looking for the same thing: peace with themselves, I mean inner peace. Both are looking for God (the only source for peace) but in different ways. Going on with the reading of the other members I will add more opinions about this, but now I can't, they would kill me!

Of all the characters, I can't stand Nikolaj Rostov. He doesn't bore me but he is unbearable.


message 10: by Marie (last edited Jun 19, 2012 08:41AM) (new)

Marie | 43 comments dely wrote: "can't say that Gandhi was a follower of Tolstoj or has been influenced by him :D
I don't know if Gandhi has read W&P but by sure he has read (and studied) the Bhagavad Gita...."


They actually had met each other and although Tolstoy died within couple of years, Gandhi had continued to draw inspiration throughout his life from Tolstoy! :)

I'm new to things you've mentioned here but it's all really interesting!!! Thanks. I'm not sure if Gandhi completely agrees with Tolstoy in everything, for example Tolstoy was against any kind of organization but Gandhi was THE central part of the freedom movements. Tolstoy was against class system but Gandhi supported the caste system in India.


I'm planning to read this :

Tolstoy And Gandhi, Men Of Peace: A Biography by Martin Green. Those who are interested, do read it.

Here's also an article on their friendship. The font size is too little, check if you like. http://www.asthabharati.org/Dia_Oct%2...


message 11: by dely (new)

dely | 340 comments Marie wrote: "dely wrote: "can't say that Gandhi was a follower of Tolstoj or has been influenced by him :D
I don't know if Gandhi has read W&P but by sure he has read (and studied) the Bhagavad Gita...."

They ..."


Very very interesting! I know really only a little bit about the lives of Tolstoj and Gandhi.
I will give a look to the article as soon as I will have more time to read it calmly. Thanks!


message 12: by dely (new)

dely | 340 comments Marie wrote: "Here's also an article on their friendship. The font size is too little, check if you like. http://www.asthabharati.org/Dia_Oct%2..."

I have read the article and it was really interesting for me, didn't know that Tolstoj had such an influcence on Gandhi. Reading the article I remembered that in an autobiography of Gandhi I had read that he began to read spiritual/religious books only late; perhaps reading Tolstoj has helped and enticed him to deepen his knowledge.
I think they were both spritual persons who were for semplicity, justice, non-violence and truth; though they were in two different countries they were so similar with their ideas. I also think that every person who is seeking for God at the end follows a spiritual path (my opinion is that God is in spirituality and not in religion). So we can say that the principles of Gandhi and Tolstoj at the end should be the principles that everybody should follow.



I was talking about this book: The Science of Yoga: The Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali in Sanskrit with Transliteration in Roman, Translation and Commentary in English by I.K. Taimni (but I am sure there are also other authors who have written books with the commentary to the yoga-sutra of Patanjali).
Here we can really find the path that everybody should follow but it is very very difficult (both, the path but also the understanding of the yoga-sutra).

But now I am curious to know if Tolstoj has developed his ideas by his own or if he had read some Indian spiritual work like the Bhagavad Gita or the Yoga-sutra or others! :D


message 13: by D. A. (new)

D. A. | 34 comments Shanez wrote: "Besides violence on the battlefield there is also violence in the homes, yes, particularly with Pierre's "war" within himself and also Andrey. I was not particularly interested in Pierre trying to ..."

My advice to Andrej when Liza died...be careful what you asked for. You didn't have to go away to war for freedom.

This is in reference to the conversation he had with Pierre in the library during Book One.


message 14: by dely (new)

dely | 340 comments D. A. wrote: "My advice to Andrej when Liza died...be careful what you asked for. You didn't have to go away to war for freedom...."

People often understand what they loose only when it is too late; often people need to face death in order to understand the meaning of life and change opinion.
Andrej had to go to war, he needed to stay half dead on the ground watching the sky, Liza had to die. These were essential processes for Andrej. If we have faith we know that nothing happens without a reason and we accept everything searching to understand why it happened and what we can learn from it.
Andrej, with his strong personality, had to go through these events. This helped him to find and let emerge again his sweet, good and sensitive side.

Pierre is completely different and he will follow another path. Surely Tolstoj wanted to show that we can seek God in different ways.


back to top