On the Distraction of C.R.E.A.M.
Day 13 of A Year of War and Peace
We rewind a bit to explore Pierre’s return to Moscow. His arrival at the Bezukhov estate precedes Boris and Anna Mikhailovna — from yesterday’s reading — by a few days. He meets with a trio of sisters, nieces to the great Count, who treat him coldly. He also sees Prince Vasili who has quickly settled himself comfortably into the environs. One person Pierre does not see, one person he should be very interested in seeing, is his father, Count Bezukhov. Curiously enough, everyone at the estate has a reason why Pierre cannot see his father. And Pierre is only too ready to accept these reasons. Naturally: there are many more important things for him to be doing. Important things like play-acting Napoleon’s planned conquest of England alone in his room.
And that’s Pierre for you: a young man capable of explaining the nuanced intricacies of international relations and, yet, unable to recognize that the wolves about him are attempting to separate him from his father in the hope that they may later separate him from his father’s riches.
One person who is not trying to separate Pierre from any potential inheritance is Boris. Boris makes this explicitly clear when he meets with Pierre to deliver the Rostov’s dinner invitation. This talk between Boris and Pierre is pretty funny. Boris emerges as the more sharp of the duo. Pierre is a mess.
We end the chapter with Anna Mikhailovna and Boris leaving the estate for the night and a revelation that will carry us through the dramatic arc of the following chapters: Count Bezukhov has a will.
I’d like to think about Boris again today. Let’s compare him to the other characters. It seems to me that Boris is the most financially insecure and yet, compared to those around him, the most psychologically secure. He seems to be the most self-realized and fortitudinous of the characters currently occupying the Bezukhov estate. Just look at the confident way he speaks to Pierre. Pierre, in comparison, is a bumbling fool. Meanwhile, the nieces are all embittered and atwitter about their place in the Count’s will. Same for Prince Vasili and Anna Mikhailovna.
It’s really only Boris who is immune to the intrigue and worry over the Count’s inheritance. Why?
At least for right now, Boris is inwardly focused. He’s not concerned with those things he has no control over. Everyone else, save maybe Pierre, is directing their energy and hope towards securing Count Bezukhov’s wealth for themselves. But this is folly because who the Count has decided to bequeath his riches too is not under their control. They are wasting precious time in a pursuit that could very well set them up for great disappointment.
On all sides we are surrounded and beset by vices, and these do not permit us to rise and lift our eyes to the discernment of truth but submerge us and hold us chained down to lust.
Seneca, On the Shortness of Life