Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The end of Tolstoy

We may as well call it a day and consider discussion on War and Peace closed.

I'm still thinking about War and Peace, I'm just having great difficulty saying anything about it. I've determined that perhaps it lends itself better to introspection; any discussion of it (that isn't in the flesh and involving music and vodka) is bound to be superficial.

I may post some further thoughts, as I intend to watch Sergei Bondarchuk's 1968 epic Soviet production (years in the making! cast of thousands! a record-setting cost of $100 million), as soon as I can get my hands on it (there's a waiting list at the library!). It's considered to be the most faithful adaptation.

Still, I'd appreciate your thoughts (in the comments below, or by email) on where the difficulties lie: the timing, the pace, the size of the book, the bigness of its themes, the historic detail? Maybe it'll help in planning the next group reading project.

Yes, I do have another group reading project in mind. (Hint: Stendhal's The Red and the Black.) More information in the days to come.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A little discussion

I say this is a "little" discussion, because I'm not looking at larger themes or underlying philosophies. I'm just going to write about one of the characters I enjoy--Pierre. I liked him at the very beginning, and although he sometimes acts foolishly, he remains likable.

I'm still in the middle of the Battle of Borodino (trying to remember if, in history, Napolean ever did take Moscow or not--can't remember!), and I've just been marveling over Pierre. Who rides out into the middle of a battle just to see what's going on? It reminds me of the first few chapters in Anna Pavlovna's drawing room. Pierre was a naive young man, charging into the group and sharing his opinions without the least idea that he was ridiculous or unwelcome. And now he's doing the same thing on the battlefield! He chats with the officers or the soldiers without the faintest idea of what's really going on.

I don't think Pierre sees things as they are. I think he sees them as he is. And because he is generous, big-hearted, and open, he casts everything in his own mold, imagining that everyone is as happy to see him as he is to see them. He's not stupid, though. I'm curious to see whether he will remain so enchanted with the Masons. I suppose it depends on what Tolstoy thought about them, and that I don't know.

The further into the book we go, the more complex I find the battles. I know nothing about military maneuvers. The only "battlefields" I've been on are historic (like Gettysburg). I have been at a few re-enactments, though, and they are so loud! If you added to the noise of the guns and cannons the sounds of men and horses screaming...I can't even imagine. How can Pierre be so oblivious????

Well, I'm hoping to finish reading about this battle today or tomorrow. Where is everyone else? I know Isabella finished on time, but surely not everyone else?