I felt the same way. This chapter, especially Marya’s letter and her lack of curiosity about the Mysteries of Nature, reminds me of the book of Ecclesiastes, wherein the author* posits that anything we do or build is temporary. The fruits of work and the pleasures of leisure are fleeting. Knowledge fades and possessions deteriorate. What are the Bolkonskys really doing out here, at arm’s length from the rest of the world, practicing skills that don’t seem to benefit anybody?
*Like many of the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes is attributed to King Solomon.