Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Eighteen - War And Peace - Part Three

I’m totally loving this book. Tolstoy is master of the quotation. I love this one – “When starting on a journey or changing their mode of life, men capable of reflection are generally in a serious frame of mind.” Brilliant. He trusts the reader to complete that sentence for ourselves. He's not so wordy that he doesn't know when to stop.

Here, a soldier is about to see the emperor in person –

He was happy as a lover when the longed-for moment of meeting arrives. Not daring to look round and without looking round, he was ecstatically conscious of his approach. He felt it not only from the sound of the hoofs of the approaching cavalcade, but because as he drew near everything grew brighter, more joyful, more significant, and more festive around him.
I must admit I don’t really get this whole worshipping the leader thing. I’m patriotic, but my loyalty lies with my country and not with her leader. Of course, we change leaders relatively frequently. I suppose if I'd grown up in a different time and place the divine right of kings/tsars would be normal.

Prince Andrew and Pierre have a conversation about living for oneself and having no concern for others vs. living for others and having no concern for oneself. It brought to mind that episode of Friends when Joey tries to convince Phoebe that there is no such thing as an altruistic act. (Just thought I'd share that with you.) The prince is currently undergoing quite a change and I think he may be the character Tolstoy wants the reader to love. He is definitely a complex person. I still think Rostov might be a sort of hero by the end of the book, as well.

Me: Mr. Tolstoy, this book rocks. It's totally epic.

Tolstoy: I am glad you approve, Madam. Awards and accolades mean little next to the reactions of individual readers.

Me: You’re mocking me, aren’t you?

Tolstoy: Not at all. I wrote this book for people, not for critics.

Me: The book probably doesn’t get a wider audience because it is required reading in so many schools. There is no better way to make people hate a book than to force them to read it.

Tolstoy: Don’t I know it. Until next time, Madam.

Me: Peace out, Dawg.


  1. I've only just started War and Peace, but I'm already kind of in love with Tolstoy's characterizations. I'm glad to see the goodness continues!

  2. You've compared W&P to Friends, discussed the authors restraint in writing, noted the important difference between loving a country and loving a leader and called Tolstoy dawg all in the same post. You just made my week.

  3. Thanks! I live to serve. (Sorta like Princess Mary.)

  4. I think if you can drawn an analogy between Friends and War and Peace, you have just, as my kids say, won all games. Nice!