Nikolai Rostov Quotes in War and Peace
Rostov, preoccupied by his relations with Bogdanych, stopped on the bridge, not knowing what to do with himself. There was no one to cut down (as he had always pictured battle to himself), nor could he help set fire to the bridge, because, unlike the other soldiers, he had not brought a plait of straw with him. He was standing and looking about, when suddenly there was a rattling on the bridge, as if someone had spilled nuts, and one of the hussars, the one nearest him, fell on the railing with a groan. […]
Nikolai Rostov turned away, and, as if searching for something, began looking at the distance, at the waters of the Danube, at the sky, at the sun! How good the sky seemed, how blue, calm, and deep!
And the flushed alien physiognomy of this man who, with lowered bayonet, holding his breath, was running lightly towards him, frightened Rostov. He seized his pistol and, instead of firing it, threw it at the Frenchman, and ran for the bushes as fast as he could. […] One undivided feeling of fear for his young, happy life possessed his entire being. Quickly leaping over the hedges, with that swiftness with which he had run playing tag, he flew across the field, turning his pale, kind young face back from time to time, and a chill of terror ran down his spine. […] “Something must be wrong,” he thought, “it’s impossible that they should want to kill me.”
Rostov was a truthful young man, not for anything would he have deliberately told an untruth. He began telling the story with the intention of telling it exactly as it had been, but imperceptibly, involuntarily, and inevitably for himself, he went over into untruth. If he had told the truth to these listeners, who, like himself, had already heard accounts of attacks numerous times and had formed for themselves a definite notion of what an attack was, and were expecting exactly the same sort of account—they either would not have believed him or, worse still, would have thought it was Rostov’s own fault that what usually happens in stories of cavalry attacks had not happened with him. He could not simply tell them that they all set out at a trot, he fell off his horse, dislocated his arm, and ran to the woods as fast as he could to escape a Frenchman. […] They were expecting an account of how he got all fired up, forgetting himself […] how his saber tasted flesh, how he fell exhausted, and so on. And he told them all that.
That night Rostov was on the picket line with his platoon forward of Bagration’s detachment. […] His eyes kept closing, and in his imagination the sovereign appeared, then Denisov, then Moscow memories […] “Why not? It might well be,” thought Rostov, “that the sovereign, meeting me, gives me some assignment, saying as to any officer: ‘Go and find out what’s there.’ There are many stories about how he got to know some officer quite by chance and attached him to himself. What if he attached me to himself? Oh, how I’d protect him, how I’d tell him the whole truth, how I’d expose the deceivers!”
“But that can’t be him, alone in the middle of this empty field,” thought Rostov. Just then Alexander turned his head, and Rostov saw the beloved features so vividly imprinted on his memory. The sovereign was pale, his cheeks were hollow, his eyes sunken; but there was all the more loveliness and mildness in his features. […]
But as a young man in love trembles and thrills, not daring to utter what he dreams of by night, and looks about fearfully, seeking help or the possibility of delay and flight, when the desired moment comes and he stands alone with her, so now Rostov, having attained what he desired more than anything in the world, did not know how to approach the sovereign and presented thousands of considerations to himself for why it was unsuitable, improper, and impossible.
Here in the regiment everything was clear and simple. The whole world was divided into two unequal parts: one was our Pavlogradsky regiment, the other— all the rest. And with this rest he had nothing to do. In the regiment, everything was known: who was a lieutenant, who a captain, who was a good and who a bad man, and— above all— who was a comrade. […]
Having entered once more into these definite conditions of regimental life, Rostov experienced a joy and peace similar to what a weary man feels when he lies down to rest. This regimental life was the more pleasurable for Rostov during this campaign in that, after losing to Dolokhov (an act for which, despite all his family’s reassurances, he could not forgive himself), he had resolved to serve not as before, but, in order to smooth over his guilt, to serve well and be a perfectly excellent comrade and officer, that is, a fine human being— which seemed so difficult in the world, but so possible in the regiment.
Rostov stood at the corner for a long time, looking at the feasting men from a distance. Painful work was going on in his mind, which he could not bring to an end. Terrible doubts arose in his soul. Now he remembered […] the whole hospital with those torn-off arms and legs, that filth and disease. He imagined so vividly now that hospital stench of dead flesh that he looked around to see where the stench could be coming from. Then he remembered that self-satisfied Bonaparte with his white little hand, who was now an emperor, whom the emperor Alexander liked and respected. Why, then, those torn-off arms and legs, those dead people? […] He caught himself in such strange thoughts that it made him frightened.
Rostov kept thinking about that brilliant feat of his, which, to his surprise, had gained him the St. George Cross and even given him the reputation of a brave man— and there was something in it that he was unable to understand. “So they’re even more afraid than we are!” he thought. “So that’s all there is to so-called heroism? And did I really do it for the fatherland? And what harm had he done, with his dimple and his light blue eyes? But how frightened he was! He thought I’d kill him. Why should I kill him? My hand faltered. And they gave me the St. George Cross. I understand nothing, nothing!”
“Well, what if I really have fallen in love with him?” thought Princess Marya.
Ashamed as she was to admit to herself that she had fallen in love first with a man who, perhaps, would never love her, she comforted herself with the thought that no one would ever know of it, and that she would not be to blame if, to the end of her life, without speaking of it to anyone, she should love the one she loved for the first and last time.
Sometimes she remembered his glances, his sympathy, his words, and happiness did not seem impossible to her. And it was then that Dunyasha noticed her, smiling, looking out the window of the carriage.
“And it had to be that he came to Bogucharovo, and at that very moment!” thought Princess Marya. […] And in all of that Princess Marya saw the will of Providence.
Sometimes the thought occurred to her that this difference was caused by age; but she felt that she was guilty before him, and in her heart she promised herself to mend her ways and do the impossible— that is, in this life to love her husband, and her children, and Nikolenka, and all who were close to her as Christ loved mankind. Countess Marya’s soul always strove towards the infinite, eternal, and perfect, and therefore could never be at peace. The stern expression of concealed, lofty suffering of a soul burdened by a body came to her face. Nikolai looked at her […] and, standing in front of the icon, he began to recite the evening prayers.