David Pierce,

I’m not sure if Tolstoy thinks Rostov’s feelings towards the emperor are silly. He never explicitly states if he thinks it is or not. On the one hand, as you point out, he does write, sympathetically, about these characters who do have these feelings. So there is some measure of empathy and understanding. On the other hand, I believe he also writes much later in the novel that Rostov has tamed these feelings for the emperor. Don’t quote me on that though. We’ll see when we get there.

I think this kind of hero worship is silly but that’s to be expected. I’m a twenty-first century middle-class American, after all. Tolstoy was a nineteenth-century Russian aristocrat. Our thoughts on things are bound to be different. Although, even now, I often see a similar reverence for political leaders here in America. So maybe I’m the outlier. Who knows? I guess, after thinking about it now as I write this, that I’m agnostic as to what Tolstoy thinks. He’s subtle about it. I’m pretty sure, however, that he’s capable of writing about well and sympathetically about people who he disdains. There is the whole Kuragin family, after all.

Finally, on a different note, I see in your bio that you live in Istanbul. That’s a city that has always fascinated me. I’m a big reader of Roman history and also Islamic history. What an important place. A new book has recently been published about it and I think I might read it soon.

Best,

Brian E. Denton

For my friends and family, love. For my enemies, durian fruit.

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