So apparently this week was “kill a bunch of characters in the books I’m reading” week. Because in Bleak House first Jo went, then Mr. Tulkinghorn. And in this book we lose Lise in childbirth, and possible Dolokhov, but I’m not convinced on that one.
Pierre is increasingly becoming a very pathetic character. He was never strong-willed except in professing his love of Napoleon, but he’s letting all the other characters lead him wherever they please–until this point, though, they have all led him somewhere fortunate–to fortune, to a pretty wife. But in this section he’s been led to believe that his wife has cheated on him with Dolokhov (by D himself) and gets drawn into a duel. I thought it was hilarious that he has to be shown how to fire a gun, but still shoots Dolokhov. D does not die there, and is never pronounced dead. He was shot in the side, and even though Pierre thinks he’s probably killed him, I am not convinced, but it would be a pretty embarrassing way to go, and it would serve him right. Then Pierre separates from his wife but gives her all the fortune she wants, which is all she wanted from him in the first place. Maybe now he’ll grow up a little, or at least grow a spine.
And on the not-funny tragic side, the Bolkonski family all believes the worst about Andrew and things around there really deteriorate. Lise goes into labor, and Andrew returns just in time to go to her side, feel sorry for how he’s treated her, and then see her lying dead.
And an interesting side-note. On Jeopardy the other night there was a category about Shakespeare haters. Apparently Tolstoy was a notorious one, and the quote on the show had to do with how immoral he thought all Shakespeare’s characters are, which I find interesting considering how immoral some of Tolstoy’s characters in this are. All of Tolstoy’s characters have bad sides, but they all have redeeming sides too, for the most part. His characters come across as human rather than didactic devices, which is why I’m enjoying this book so far.I guess he thought Shakespeare’s characters enjoy their immorality too much for no good reason (like, they don’t suffer for their badness in the end, maybe?). He wrote a whole book-length essay about it apparently, which I read about during the whole 2 minutes of research I did on this. You can read it if you’re interested.