Saturday, July 15, 2006

Book I, Parts 2&3, in general

I thought a separate post might be in order to open some general discussion on Book I, Parts 2 & 3.

1. So? How's it going? I admit to having fallen behind the schedule this week, but I'm back on track now. Are we going too fast? If you don't speak up we'll never know.

2. How do feel about the war scenes? Do you prefer them over the scenes in society?

3. Can Prince Vasily be any more unpleasant?

4. Nikolai Rostov: coward? What do you make of his love for the Tsar?

5. Tolstoy really dwells on the ugliness of women (or is it just me?).

6. Do you have any favourite quotations or scenes?

State your opinions, ask your questions, gossip!

12 Comments:

Anonymous rachel said...

I'm behind, I confess. I keep thinking I'll put on a burst of speed and catch up, and I still might, but I haven't yet. But don't slow down on my account, since I've read it before.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Krakovianka said...

I'm behind--just finished part 2 of book 1--and it's terribly obvious even at this early stage that Tolstoy views all of his characters as completely unable to act apart from some kind of pre-determined destiny (determined by whom, I wonder?), and the happiest ones are those who accept it.

I think of Prince Bagration, a lame general who doesn't give any orders or have any decent strategy, listening to his men tell him what happened, and than whatever it was, he approves of it as if he had intended it all along.

"Prince Andre listened carefully to Prince Bagration's exchanges with the commanding officers and to the orders he gave them, observing, to his surprise, that orders were not actually given, but that Prince Bagration tried to make it appear that everything, whether done by necessity, chance, or by the will of the unit commanders, was done, if not by his command, at least in accord with his intentions."

And after being assured of that, the officers who were perplexed, go away happy!

And then there's poor, fumbling Pierre, fated to marry someone he's not sure if he wants to...

"And at that moment, Pierre felt that Ellen not only could but must be his wife, that it could not be otherwise. He knew it as surely as if he had been standing beside her at the altar. How this would be and when he did not know; he did not even know if it would be a good thing (actually he felt that for some reason it would be wrong) but he knew that it was to be."

Poor Pierre, not in charge of his own destiny. He accidently becomes a count, lets Prince Vasily push him around and tell him what to do with his money, and now he's got to marry someone he doesn't really want to marry?

I don't feel sorry for him. I think he needs some backbone.

2:29 PM  
Blogger piksea said...

I'm behind. I finished Part 2 of the first volume last night which means to catch up I'd have to read three parts tonight and that's not going to happen. I'll probably be caught up by next week, though.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous gina c said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I just finished Book 1, Part 3 last night, so I'm a little behind. As to the war scenes versus the society scenes: I like the war scenes in as much as they involve our main characters. I thought the chaos and confusion of war, such as Rostov encounters, while searching for Kutuzov, to be very much the way I imagine it would be.

Is Nikolai Rostov a coward? Hmm...he had sprained his arm, but it was his left arm, so he could have conceivably fired his pistol with his right. In the end he panicked and threw his pistol at the Frenchman and ran towards the bushes. This was not how he had pictured himself in battle, but it was probably a wise move considering the odds. This contrasts sharply with his overwhelming love of the Tsar and his view as to how to express it: namely by forfeiting his life in some manner. Giving it to his adored one, as the ultimate offering to prove his love. An idealistic view of death as the ultimate ejaculation. Poor Sonya.

12:32 AM  
Blogger Isabella said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Isabella said...

Re Rostov. Coward is perhaps too strong, too negative a word. It strikes me that in battle, with the Czar, later in the hospital — his desire to act is so powerfully overwhelming as to paralyze him, render him unable to act.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous rachel said...

Hehe. That WAS kind of a spoiler, Gina. Being behind is as much of a hazard as being ahead, when you've read it already -- I don't know if my favourite scenes have been reached yet or not.

I think I mentioned before, I am less enamoured of Andrei this read-through than previously. I also feel like I'm picking up on a lot of homosexual innuendo -- anybody else getting that?!? All the exhilaration he feels, being away from the shallow, womanly world, the way he just lights right up when he's talking to another man? Do I just not understand that special fellow-soldier feeling? Maybe that deserves its own post.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous gina c said...

OH NOOOOO!!! I am so very sorry for that spoiler!!!! Please do forgive me? I wasnt thinking clearly, I can see there is more to this participating in a reading group than I previously thought... I will put a post it note on my computer that says, No Spoilers allowed. Honestly, I am sorry. Isabella, could you remove the offending posts?

12:46 PM  
Blogger Isabella said...

Gina's SPOILER comment and my retort have been removed (I didn't mean to make you feel bad, Gina. Actually, I already knew from stumbling across other articles; I just haven't read that far yet).

The meat of Gina's original comment is reproduced here:

I'm behind too, but thats allright, i will catch up this weekend. I am halfway through Vol. 1 part 3, and doing well so far. I like the Briggs translation, he is doing the battle parts better than I remember the Edmonds translation, of course that was long ago. However, I am finding Andrey more sympathetic this time.
-Gina

3:36 PM  
Blogger Isabella said...

BTW, I find Andrei quite sympathetic (I'm reading Dunnigan). Even though his early treatment of Lisa was somewhat off-putting, I didn't find it offensive. I don't quite know how to articulate this: He seems simply to not be in himself, be comfortable with himself, fully know who he is, what he wants.

I haven't noticed any innuendo, but will think more about this.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Raehan said...

I'm behind due to a course I was taking. It's over now. Hope to catch up.

2:07 AM  

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