War and Peace Check-In #10


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?

6 thoughts on “War and Peace Check-In #10

  1. Lisa Hill

    Hi Amy, I was interested to see your thoughts about Tolstoy on history – because when I was reading W&P I felt exactly the same – and yet it is these ideas about history that have really stayed with me, and I find myself quoting them every now and again when the subject ‘what is history?’ comes up. It’s curious how often it does, because there are still so many people who think that history is facts about what happened, and there can’t be any argument about that, they think. And the more recent the history, the more they think this is true.
    I found myself thinking about Tolstoy’s PoV a lot when we visited Russia last year, and I learned for the first time about Russia’s WW2. For them the Battle of Stalingrad was the turning point of the war, while we in the West think that D-Day is, and tend to know nothing about Stalingrad.
    We went to Tolstoy’s grave (http://wp.me/px0jJ-nK) while we were in Russia and were interested to see that this great hero of literature has a very simple grave. It is just a raised mound, set back a bit from the path, surrounded by grass. People bring flowers and place them around the mound, it’s very lovely.

    1. Iris Post author

      Oops, I’m sorry I wasn’t very clear. This post i actually written by me (Iris), I just redirected to Amy’s blog because we’re organising the read along together.

      I do agree that there are some really quoteworthy parts on history in W&P. And I do agree that the idea of facts and the “big men” aren’t what makes history. But at the same time I don’t really know with how he describes these “masses of people” and particularly their “spirit” as defining history. I agree in part, but not wholly, somehow?

      1. Lisa Hill

        Sorry Iris, I got my wires crossed – I knew it was you, because I ‘know’ you from Dutch Lit month:)
        LOL you need to come to Australia to see how ‘people’ and their ‘spirit’ define history. Our most sacred day is Anzac Day, when Australians were defeated on the beach at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915. Teachers have been teaching what actually happened there for decades, but all that’s irrelevant to the myth-making. Australians don’t think of this event as the ANZACs invading another country, they think of it as the ‘defining moment’ of our nation because WW1 was the first time Australia went to war after Federation and the slaughter on that beach was so graphic. Children write moving little essays about how the soldiers went ‘to save us’ when in fact Australia enthusiastically joined in a war that had nothing to do with us. And nobody takes any notice of the historic significance of Federation, which was remarkable for being the transformation of six separate states into our modern nation, achieved without any bloodshed. No, it is the ‘spirit’ of the Anzacs that defines history here…

  2. Bookworm1858

    I think you wrote a great post about this month’s selection. Personally I don’t much like Andrei so I wasn’t very moved by his death nor was I anticipating it. I do really like Rostov and Marya though and am interested to see how their story will be resolved.

    I can’t believe we’re almost done!

  3. Pingback: War and Peace Check-In #11 | Iris on Books

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