It is the first of November and according to our schedule, we have passed a thousand pages!
I have very little to add to Amy’s clever observations for this month. Be sure to check out her post! She also has the Mr Linky, in case you are still reading with us.
I’ll basically be reiterating her thoughts in my own words below:
I was sad that Prince Andrei died. I would have loved for him and Natasha to have a happy ending. However, I knew it was coming since I was stupid enough to check out the characters on wikipedia in.. February, I think? And I quickly learned that he would die. And yet, given his previous almost-death experience, I was still hoping that wikipedia had gotten it wrong. Anyway, I did really appreciate Tolstoy’s description of how Natasha and Andrei reconciled, and I found the last days of Andrei really interesting – his detachment versus the feelings and needs of the people near him.
As for the other couple. As much as I want Marya and Rostov to be happy together, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Sonya too. I find it really interesting that two of the women I feel most sympathy for, Marya and Sonya, end up having to share a love interest (Not to say I don’t feel sympathy for Natasha – but I feel Sonya and Marya are more similar). It also makes me a little sad. I love for characters I like to end up happy. But I can see how Tolstoy did not exactly have that, or my feelings, in mind when he wrote this book.
As for Tolstoy’s prime message about history, can I just state that I have grown quite tired of it? On the one hand, I do appreciate his ideas and I can see how his vision would’ve been quite different from those of historians of his time.. But, as Amy said, I feel it jars with the story somehow. For all his statements, I wish it could have been embedded within the story a little better. Now it just feels a little out-of-place.
What I did think funny is how he seems most bitter about the French historians, who glorify Napoleon, and then continues to talk in the ‘we’ form, as in ‘we Russians’ in some pages. I wonder how Tolstoy’s vision compares to other Russian historians of his time? Are they in the same business of glorifying powerful individuals, which he seems to reject (and I suspect they would’ve been)? If so, it is quite interesting that he singles out the French historians in particular here, even if for a few pages – in the context of a book about a French-Russian war. Hehee.
I have to admit, I am quite keen to finally finish this book. I have started on part III of Volume Four already. I’m quite curious how Tolstoy will tie up all the families’ lives (which admittedly is what interests me most). I know that the Epilogues are generally held to be quite slow and repetitive reading, so I’m not looking forward to December’s installment, but November? Yes, I am curious.
I wonder how I’ll feel about this book when I’m finally done reading. I think it is save to say that, for now, it hasn’t been the best reading experience yet – although it certainly has not been the worst either. I wonder if I’ll be more appreciative once I’m done?