Tuesday, March 24, 2009

War & Peace--#16 finished

Well, it certainly took long enough--started sometime in Nov & finished today.  Somewhere around 4 months or so to get it done.  Unlike previous times it was not the only book I was reading, somewhere around 20 other books were read along with War & Peace.  I am not sure what there is to say about the book right now, but will hit on a couple of thoughts.

1. Given how different the times were then in comparison to now, it is amazing how the real everyday thoughts and desires are still very much the same.  People's desire to be loved, to find meaning in life, to strive for stability and peace are feelings that Tolstoy wrote about that anyone today can understand and feel alongside his characters.  The insight he has into people is as true then as it is today, making this a truly timeless novel.

2. Tolstoy seemed to have little respect for Napoleon.  I don't remember getting that feeling from when I read it before--although years and slipping memories might be the case as well.  Tolstoy spends much time in his discussion of Napoleon focusing on how he is perceived by historians and why he feels they are just wrong.  The end of the book seems to want to kind of take the historians and most professor types to task, but really I am not sure how effective it was.  By that point, I had hit the wall and just wanted to complete the novel.

3. None of his main characters is without some major type of flaws.  I think this adds to them and makes it much easier to identify with them.  It does seem though that being away from Moscow or St Petersburg is best for them also.  Not surprising since I believe that is also the life that Tolstoy preferred.

4. I kept asking myself throughout the novel, what was the audience that Tolstoy was writing to?  Was it to the upper class Russians who would have easiest access to the novel.  Was it to the Czar and nobility?  Did he believe the book would reach the peasant class or merchants?  I don't know if answering this question would add anything to my enjoyment of the novel, but was just wondering since I am sure it was something he probably thought of while writing.

I am sure there are other things that will come up and many others that will just be remembered from the novel.  At this point I cannot say if I will be reading it again in the future.  I would like to think that I will, but it is not one that I can easily page through either.  It is an both and enjoyment to read and also in a sense an accomplishment as well.

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