The Dream of a Particle of Love

Day 275 of A Year of War and Peace


Prince Andrei finds comfort in death where in life he found only discomfort. His consolation blossoms after he is wounded at Borodino when an unfettered love enraptures and unfolds itself in his soul “as if freed from the bondage of life that had restrained it.” Yet Prince Andrei lingers on, trying in vain to rationally comprehend this new conception of life, love and death. He tells himself that love hinders death, that love is life and that everything is united by love. Still, this is not enough. Rationality and reason were part of his former life. Full comprehension arrives only within the irrational, inarticulable realm of dreamscape.

In his dream he is unwounded and healthy again. He speaks with various people. The conversation is tiresome and trivial. This is Prince Andrei as he lived: a sceptical, cynical and disillusioned aristocrat negotiating reluctantly the world he was born into. The talk is empty and meaningless, more befitting the vacuous world of Boris Drubetskoy than Andrei’s own lofty standards. Eventually, after his guests fade away, he is left only with the terror that death is trying to enter his room through an opened door. He struggles his way towards the door, his legs disobeying every command to move. Fear seizes him that he may not secure the door in time. Then, like Gilgamesh lamenting to Enkidu that mankind’s days are numbered and any toiling against this truth is but wind, Prince Andrei gives up, accepts the opening of the door, and dies.

He awakes with understanding where before he was able only to articulate his discovery of life, love and death. May his unintelligible wisdom live with us all.


Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.

Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, may he rest in peace

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

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