Crown with a Halo
Regular readers of A Year of War and Peace may have noted a strain of pessimism worming its way throughout the project. This should come as no surprise given the novel under consideration and your humble author’s conviction that the novel reflects, though may actually underrepresent, the real world’s overabundance of misery and suffering. Readers might disagree with that assessment but someone who will not find much to quibble with, at least during this portion of the novel, is Pierre Bezukhov. It’s going to get bad for him. Real bad.
The story of Pierre’s capture, imprisonment and forced march out of Russia serves not only as a testament to the cruel agony of existence but, more importantly, as an example of and an opportunity for thinking about how to live in this postlapsarian world.
As we follow Pierre’s story, then, keep in mind today’s meditation. It will be the basis for nearly all our meditations concerning Pierre moving forward.
A man who rises up to face the most cruel of misfortunes, and overthrows the evils by which others are crushed — this man’s very sorrows crown him, as it were, with a halo, since we are so constituted that nothing stirs our admiration so much as a man who is brave in adversity.
Seneca, De Consolatione ad Helviam