Day 17: 878 – 935
It’s high time that I finally finish these diaries. It’s been too long. I have finished the book almost a month ago, so let me catch up.
Moscow is a huge mess. In fact, Moscow is now abandoned. After Borodino, the Russian army retreated further. The only people left in the city are those from the lower classes who have nowhere to go to. They are even led to believe that they would all be protecting their city. But that isn’t going to happen, and they feel this sense of betrayal. They rush to the city administrator, Count Rastopchin, the very person who urged them on. Flustered, he looks for someone to blame. He remembers the prisoners who were tried for treason. He picks a certain Vereshchagin. At the count’s command, he is publicly beaten to a bloody pulp. The people sentenced him to death although he is only supposed to do hard labor. The voice of the people called for violence. Is this the voice of God?
This is a really dark scene. The author dives deep into the darkness of the human soul. I thought this stuff is only for Cormac McCarthy or Joseph Conrad. But he portrayed it. I’m going mad.
Pierre is making plans to kill Napoleon himself. However, he ends up saving a French captain, Ramballe. Our protagonist resolves not to speak in French, but he couldn’t fight it. He ends up having an all-night chat over wine with the captain. Hence, they are now friends.
The Rostovs are now also on the go, finally, after a lot of trifles. On the way, Natasha discovers that Prince Andrei is with them. Sonya tells his condition to the countess, and of course, Natasha wants to see him badly. She sneaks out one night, and when she lays her eyes on the ailing Prince Andrei, all the bad feelings and memories fades away.
Go back to Pierre. After his encounter with Captain Ramballe, he resolves again to kill Napoleon. He goes to the burning city of Moscow. He meets a bunch of Russian families. He saves a child from a burning house. He saves a woman from being looted of her jewelry. A hero. But he did not end up killing Napoleon. He ends up getting arrested for arson.
Day 18: 935 – 987
Helene dies of angina pectoris. Just what is that? I didn’t bother researching. It’s good enough that she’s dead already. With the war going on, Pierre is unaware of this.
Nikolai and Princess Marya meet at Voronezh. The latter is staying with a relative, what with the war going on and the recent loss of her father. The socialites of that town decide to pair the two together. Nikolai gets confused. He is in the town to buy some horses, and now he is meddled in such affairs. He likes Princess Marya’s soul, but how about his promise to Sonya? And what do you know, he receives a letter from Sonya, telling him to forget all about the promise that he made her.
Pierre is interrogated along with other prisoners. He is sentenced to death. But when his turn came, he is spared. Maybe he is not sentenced in the first place? But he comes face to face with death. He witnessed how the other prisoners were shot. It is a very existential experience for him, looking at the prisoners’ bodies slipping away from consciousness, forever, once the guns explode and the bullets steal their breaths.
It’s pretty obvious that my favorite character will die any time soon. But the writer kills him slowly. It is almost unbearable. I was a little wild-eyed, right after finishing this part, Volume 4, Part 1. If someone had seen me, he would have thought that I lost it.
This part is fierce yet delicately written. It left an indelible mark inside me. The feeling that I had was so intense that I kept seeing flickering white flashes as I closed my eyes and forced myself to sleep, and it was already 5 AM. Then the lonely light of morning shone through the window, which somehow amplified what I was feeling. That emotion is similar to what you feel in that fleeting interval between the last wave of the conductor’s baton to his orchestra, signaling the finish of the last movement of a symphony, and the long applause from the audience.
Day 19: 987 – 1031
Denisov is back in action. I thought he was done for when he stood up for his company. I missed this character, especially the way he talks. So he contributes a little to the war. He gives the Frenchmen a surprise attack. Of course, he is successful.
And Pierre undergoes a transformation while in captivity. Despite the absence of the luxuries of his previous life, he never felt freer than he is right now. He is a destitute, wearing rags and infected with lice, but still, he was never happier in his life as he is right now.
And the French decides to leave Moscow. After all that effort and after looting the whole city, they turn back instead of marching towards Petersburg. A lot of talk goes on here, and I do not wish to divulge in it. It’s a lot of military tactics talk, something that I am not into.
Day 20: 1031 -1075
Petya and Dolokhov investigates a French camp. Petya adores the indifferent Dolokhov. It’s like Nikolai’s adoration for the emperor. Petya tags along, thirsty for adventure. They assume to be French officers from another camp, using their stolen uniforms, perfect French, and intimidation as guises.
After this spying, the Russians under the command of Denisov attack this French camp. Petya goes a little too excited, so he ends up not falling off his horse, but getting a bullet in his head. He dies. The French surrenders. The prisoners are set free, of which Pierre was one of them.
Speaking of Pierre, he met a certain Karataev while he is held a prisoner. He becomes friends with him. Karataev turns out to be Pierre’s benefactor, and the latter gets into seriously thinking about life and spirituality thanks to this free-spirited soldier. He is always positive and obscure at the same time. However, during the long marches, Karataev dies. This soldier calls out to him for the last time, but Pierre pretended not to see hear him.
Karataev is the last character introduced in this book, and it’s almost over. Everyone else is dying. This is war. Who’s next?