Author Topic: War and Peace  (Read 640 times)

War and Peace
« on: March 06, 2019, 07:03:12 PM »
Just finished this, about seven months after starting it (I read plenty of other stuff in the meantime).  I have to concur with Adrian Mole's assessment: "it was quite good." 

I was surprised how modern it felt.  I love Dickens, but it was bizarre to think that this sceptical, searching work with lots of drama but no melodrama, and with characters that are vivid but not eccentric, was written in the 1860s when he was still at his height.  The language is so much more direct, less ornate.  Maybe this was down to the translation: I read the 2007 Pevear and Volokhonsky version in an excellent edition from Vintage.

Readability is also helped by the individual chapters being very short, rarely more than five pages.

Henry James called it "a loose, baggy monster," but even over such a long period of reading, the solid structure of the work is clear.  That the latter stages of the book feature more chapters that are basically philosophical essays doesn't make me think that Tolstoy's plan was changing as time went on, only that his idea of executing it evolved slightly.  And the final part of the Epilogue, with the narrative over, might occasionally seem confused, simplistic or naive, but thematically it really succeeds in tying the whole work together.  (Maybe it could be informally subtitled The Dude's Rug.)

Re: War and Peace
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2019, 08:00:35 PM »
Tremendous novel, but I never liked the ostensibly happy ending. I think he was writing for a popular audience at that point.

Wet Blanket

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Re: War and Peace
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2019, 09:14:42 AM »
It's a few years since I've read it and it feels like doing so was a waste of time because I barely remember anything about it, but I do remember, contrary to a lot of people's responses, enjoying the essays more than the narrative, which is pretty soapy melodrama for the most part. I read the Anthony Briggs translation, which has some mixed reviews, not sure if it did it justice.

Dostoevsky's more my bag

Re: War and Peace
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2019, 10:36:20 AM »
It's a few years since I've read it and it feels like doing so was a waste of time because I barely remember anything about it, but I do remember, contrary to a lot of people's responses, enjoying the essays more than the narrative, which is pretty soapy melodrama for the most part. I read the Anthony Briggs translation, which has some mixed reviews, not sure if it did it justice.

Dostoevsky's more my bag

Over my half my life-time since I read it (about age 17). Think sped read after the first book cos my English teacher made a snide remark about how long it would take me to get through. Recall it was a good read; hard to keep track of every character but did feel immersed in the world; including the cold snowish areas of Moscow.
But; Dostoevsky is definitely one that I feel resonates more and do feel an urge to reread Crime and Punishment again.

Twit 2

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Re: War and Peace
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2019, 09:09:01 PM »
Over my half my life-time since I read it (about age 17). Think sped read after the first book cos my English teacher made a snide remark about how long it would take me to get through. Recall it was a good read about some Russians.


Re: War and Peace
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2019, 04:26:06 PM »
I read the 2007 Pevear and Volokhonsky version in an excellent edition from Vintage.

Is that the one that keeps the French bits?

Re: War and Peace
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2019, 04:42:04 PM »
Is that the one that keeps the French bits?

Yes, though they are then translated in footnotes of course.