In War and Peace, Book II, Part Five, Chapter 22, Pierre Bezukhov visits a heart-broken Natasha Rostova, reassures her that her life is not ruined, and tells her of his love for her. As he gets into his sledge Pierre's coachman asks him where he wishes to go next.

"Where to?" Pierre asked himself. "Where can I go now? Surely not to the Club or to pay calls?" All men seemed to him so pitiable, so wretched in comparison with this feeling of tenderness and love he was experiencing, in comparison with that softened, grateful last look she had given him through her tears.

"Home!" said Pierre, and despite the twenty degrees of frost he threw open the bearskin coat from his broad chest and joyously inhaled the air.

It was clear and frosty. Above the dirty, ill-lit streets, above the black roofs, stretched the dark, starry sky. Only as he gazed up at the sky did Pierre feel the humiliating pettiness of all earthly things compared with the heights to which his soul had just been raised. At the entrance to the Arbat Square an immense expanse of dark, starry sky appreared before his eyes. Almost in the center of it, above the Prechistensky Boulevard, surrounded and spangled on all sides by stars, but distinct from them by its nearness to the earth, with its white light and its long upturned tail, shone the huge, brilliant comet of the year 1812—the comet that was said to portend all kinds of horrors and the end of the world. In Pierre, however, that bright star with its long, luminous tail aroused no feeling of dread. On the contrary, he gazed joyously, his eyes moist with tears, at that radiant star which, havintg traveled in its orbit with inconceivable velocity through infinite space, seemed suddenly, like an arrow piercing the earth, to remain fixed in its chosen spot in the black firmament, tail firmly poised, shining and disporting itself with its white light amid countless other scintillating stars. It seemed to Pierre that this comet fully harmonized with what was in his own mollified and uplifted soul, now blossoming into a new life.

(from the Ann Dunnigan translation, 1968; note how she converts Leo Tolstoy's original "ten degrees of frost" from Celsius into Fahrenheit; cf. TruthInBattle (11 Feb 2001), OozeOnVerst (22 Sep 2004), UntutoredVoice (3 Nov 2004), BodyMnemonic (4 Dec 2004), PerfectCommunication (14 Feb 2005), LadderOfLife (10 Apr 2005), ...)

TopicLiterature - TopicScience - TopicArt - 2005-04-17

(correlates: LadderOfLife, DebutanteDance, NationalCharacters, ...)