Saturday, November 26, 2011


As I was reading chapter 3 in Book 13 of War and Peace, I was struck by Tolstoy's description of Pierre. Pierre is now solid and strong and has a calmness in his eyes. With all of the turmoil Pierre has had in his life, it is interesting that he now shows these changes.

It made me think about quality of life and what kind of life is best for one in order to be the most satisfied. Pierre seems to have been brought into the best version of himself in conditions that are far less luxurious than those he is used to. Tolstoy was critical of the elite class, yet it is hard to argue against the peace of mind that having money--now and in his time--brings. Yet Pierre is a great example of how sometimes less is more. The growth that can be had from having less is invaluable and reconfirms my belief that adversity makes you grow stronger.


  1. This change in Pierre can also be seen in the fact that Pierre is now wearing peasant clothing. Also, I would consider fact that Pierre finds happiness through privation as Tolstoy being critical of the upper class.

  2. I believe that Tolstoy had not yet discovered the peace of mind that he describes in Pierre at the time he wrote War and Peace, but it is the philosophy he eventually reached in his life. Peace and serenity and calmness come when one is not in the middle of the hustle of society and has time to detach from the daily trivia. It seems natural to me that Pierre is able to see life from a different perspective now that he has no outside influences. The same motive is found in Anna Karenina with another character that tries to understand divinity and only when he spends time with the peasants, he realizes that they do not doubt nor question God, but rather believe in it without thinking about why they should or should not have Faith. I feel that this is one of the recurring themes in War and Peace: one cannot fight fate or God, one should allow oneself to be subdued by its power.

  3. I agree with both Iulia and you, Ellen, on this subject.

    Adversity and Peace makes it easier for one to reach philosophical enlightenment. However one doesn't necessarily need adversity in order to figure out life, they would just need tons of focus. The reverse is also true.

    The main reason why Pierre was finally able to find Philosophical Enlightenment was that he didn't have any distractions. I doubt he will be able to hold onto his new beliefs after the war is over.