11.06.2013

Currently Reading: War and Peace, but I'm only 28% through

He was always busy and always felt in a state of mild and cheerful intoxication. He felt as though he were the center of some important and general movement; that something was constantly expected of him, that if he did not do it he would grieve and disappoint many people, but if he did this and that, all would be well; and he did what was demanded of him, but still that happy result always remained in the future.
I feel ya, Pierre. Or Pyotr, or whatever your name is. I have not yet managed to discern how much of the odd French/English/Russian naming stew in my copy is Tolstoy, and how much is Edition.

To those of you who are not fictional characters and are therefore actually reading this, one week is not enough time to get through a book of this magnitude. Not as I hope to get anything else done, anyhow. I might've blasted through a couple of those Wheel of Time monsters in a matter of days, and they might've had similar quantities of words and war scenes and secondary characters with complicated names, but the exploits of Rand al'Thor did not require nearly so much careful attention.

I also don't think I'm quite dauntless enough to write a blasé review of a book like this. Hence, informal updates like this one.

It's still too early in the book to say much, of course. Tolstoy has a painful knack for pointing out all the narcissistic little ponderings that go through the human brain. He possesses an even more painful knack for making my favorite characters do abominably stupid things. I'd like to complain that he keeps leaving out all the How They Got This Way bits that, for instance, might have connected the humbled and shaken post-battle Nicholas Rostov of one scene with the hotheaded jerk who resurfaced, transmogrified, two chapters later. It seems unreasonable, however, to complain that this book should've been longer.*

It should be added that I'm all in favor of length when an author can pack it with the kind of beautiful moments that rise unexpectedly out of dark corners in this story. Also, that Tolstoy keeps making me love my least favorite characters in spite of myself, which almost makes up for his hardheartedness toward the ones I liked in the first place.

More next week...

* Am trying very hard to restrain a sudden flippancy that would have me suggest that Tolstoy could've made this a fourteen-book saga with magic and madness and polygamy and plenty of time for developing dozens of POV characters, like Jordan did, and I still would've been willing to read it. But all I've succeeded in doing is keeping most of that flippancy to a footnote.

8 comments:

  1. Oh Nikolai...shakes head..he gets worse before he gets better...but not completely..he just doesn't know how to be grown up yet..of course, I think I like him least when he is all grown up..eh..Pierre is such a delight though!!!! Don't you just want nestle him in your arms an tell him he's loved.

    The names are part Tolstoy and part Edition, I think. He has lots of names for everyone..but the English ones are all Edition. ;)

    He's SO obsessed with the internal meanderings of his characters..can you imagine how long an autobiography by Tolstoy would be!!! =O

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    1. Pierre is such a delight though!!!! Don't you just want nestle him in your arms an tell him he's loved

      YES! Haha. He's so sweet-natured and so completely out of control of his own life. As for Nikolai, I am glad to hear that he gets better. We'll see about the grown-up bit; I am sort of with Lewis on the idea of never growing up.

      Oh, and I'll try and lose the English names in future posts.... maybe. It'll be guesswork, even with the help of Wikipedia. Transliteration is always a challenge, because some people use i and some y for all the softening characters, and then there's all the nicknames, which I suspect my edition of sometimes leaving out, and... yeah. Feel free to correct me at any time. ;)

      He's SO obsessed with the internal meanderings of his characters..can you imagine how long an autobiography by Tolstoy would be!!!

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! So, that's why I'll never write my OWN autobiography...

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    2. No big deal..if your edition has them, it's kind of hard to re-think them..mine had very Russian versions of the names (when they weren't French) and I've never de-programed myself either..I read that edition ragged, now I lose a page from the back everytime I pick it up again :(

      :) Enjoy it!!!!

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  2. Replies
    1. Well, twice would be quite the time investment.

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    2. The first time is the longest..it gets shorter and shorter each read-through, until you start wishing he'd written a trilogy ;)

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  3. A couple weeks ago I picked up War and Peace looking for a particular passage that I wanted to refer to. . . and lost two hours. Really, the only thing that makes me wary of wishing there were 14 of these is that if there were, I might never manage to read anything else. It'd just be Rostovs all the way down.

    Tolstoy keeps making me love my least favorite characters in spite of myself, which almost makes up for his hardheartedness toward the ones I liked in the first place.

    I KNOW, RIGHT?? Tolstoy is love. <3

    No worries about the English names; I think we can figure them out! Every edition does them a little differently. i/y endings, Hippolyte / Ippolit; it's all good.

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  4. A couple weeks ago I picked up War and Peace looking for a particular passage that I wanted to refer to. . . and lost two hours.

    I can totally see it! I have done that SO many times with books.

    And yeah, Tolstoy is fabulous at making his characters lovable despite flaws and mistakes... so good. <3

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