Thursday, June 22, 2006

Like A Child In A Toyshop...

Pierre had been educated abroad, and this reception at Anna Pavlovna's was the first he had attended in Russia. He knew that all the intellectual lights of Petersburg were gathered there and, like a child in a toyshop, did not know which way to look, afraid of missing any clever conversation that was to be heard. Seeing the self-confident and refined expression on the faces of those present he was always expecting to hear something very profound. At last he came up to Morio. Here the conversation seemed interesting and he stood waiting for an opportunity to express his own views, as young people are fond of doing.
Ah, I feel rather like young Pierre. Without the educated abroad part. I'm not sure that I am going to be one to express my views, as I am a young person actually not that fond of doing that, yet, I wanted to say how honored I am by the chance to study this great work with such a great group of people.

I also wanted to direct you an excerpt of an article (How to Read a Hard Book) on Oprah's O Magazine website, where there is advice on how to read a great work of literature. War & Peace is the example used. It actually did make me want to read the book even more.

I look forward to getting to know those of you I already know better, and meeting the ones I don't! Happy Reading!


Blogger Krakovianka said...

Funny you should quote that paragraph. It's the very one that caught my eye just as I was reading the chapter today!

With few exceptions, always remember this: all the "great" literature was written to be read by everyone. Real literature is always approachable simply because the author wants you to understand what he is saying. (This is not true of academic jargon spouted by people who want to sound educated--but it is always true of *literature*.)

3:36 PM  
Anonymous rachel said...

Hey -- nice to meet both of you! I'm one of the original Middlemarchers, but definitely looking forward to making new friends.

This is my... er... either third or fourth time through War and Peace (depending how you look at it -- my first time through, I skimmed all the War, in favor of Peace, and ended up understanding nothing). It's one of my favorite books, but I haven't read it in about ten years. Picking it up agani is like seeing old friends again. I, too, just read the quoted description of Pierre, and it was like, "Pierre! I LOVE Pierre!"

Er. See? Even we old farts aren't always erudite. I hope y'all will feel free to express your enthusiasm in whatever terms come to you. You don't have to be a scholar to know what you like.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous adrienne said...

I just finished this book yesterday! How fortuitous that you've decided to read it now!

8:38 PM  
Blogger Phyllis said...

I'm considering joining you all. I want to, but I don't know if I have the time. I want to read War and Peace in Russian before I die, but now is not the time for that. However, another time through in English certainly wouldn't hurt me.

Are you planning to move pretty slowly? I'm a very slow reader by choice and necessity.

How did this group come together, by the way?

Oh, that Uberto Eco essay someone referred to in a comment was great! Thanks! His Name of the Rose is on my list of favorite books. One of the things that just awes me about that book is how beautifully it comes across in translation. Now I understand why. :-)

6:36 AM  

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