Thursday, February 17, 2011

War and Peace - Read Along Check In #3


I am just NOT enjoying this book.  Quite honestly, it's the only thing I've been reading as I know if I start something else, I will never finish War and Peace, so it's sending me quietly crazy!!  I have moments of not minding it quite as much as other times, but overall I am simply not enjoying it.  Reading it is a chore, not a pleasure. 

I feel I am getting the point of what Tolstoy is doing, and even am sympathetic with it, I want to like this book!  I admire it as a work of fiction/history, as an attempt to give both the broad strokes and minutiae of history, as a philosophical treatise, and so on and so forth, but I still don't wanna read it. I don't look forward to reading it.  I've read more blogs and online articles than ever before in an attempt to amuse myself (pre-bedtime reading-wise) so I don't turn on Kindle on my iPad to continue War and Peace.  I am very grateful to be doing this as a read-a-long so I am accountable and have kept going at it!

Kindle cruelly reports that I am 74% of the way through.  That last 26% seems very. very. long.

Okay, the bits I like: the philosophical explainations of war and human action:

"But what is war? What is needed for success in warfare? What are the habits of the military? The aim of war is murder; the methods of war are spying, treachery, and their encouragement, the ruin of a country's inhabitants, robbing them or stealing to provision the army, and fraud and falsehood termed military craft. The habits of the military class are the absence of freedom, that is, discipline, idleness, ignorance, cruelty, debauchery, and drunkenness. And in spite of all this it is the highest class, respected by everyone. All the kings, except the Chinese, wear military uniforms, and he who kills most people receives the highest rewards.
"They meet, as we shall meet tomorrow, to murder one another; they kill and maim tens of thousands, and then have thanksgiving services for having killed so many people (they even exaggerate the number), and they announce a victory, supposing that the more people they have killed the greater their achievement. How does God above look at them and hear them?" exclaimed Prince Andrew in a shrill, piercing voice. "Ah, my friend, it has of late become hard for me to live. I see that I have begun to understand too much. And it doesn't do for man to taste of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.... Ah, well, it's not for long!" he added.


I like Helene more and more, though her characterisation as "stupid" is offensive, she is pretty clearly a cluey soul.  Tolstoy also explains her independence as a masculine trait, or as her foolishness and ignorance.  This is annoying, I would far prefer her to be unapologetically a strong and smart woman. 

I'm still a fan of Andrei/Andrew, and NOT a fan of Natasha - she is insipid and continues to be flighty and dull. 

So: I get the point, I like the point, I just don't want to be reading the point.  But either way, this book has made a big impression on me, I find myself thinking about it and my reactions to it often, and so it has definitely been a reading success.

Trudging off to finish the rest of it.  Slowly. 

See other read-a-long posts here, care of A Literary Odyssey.


Kristi said...

I just finished the third volume this morning so I waited to read your post.

This particular volume was really rough to get through. He does make interesting points about war and human will, but it has been a slog. I don't regret reading it, but I don't think I'll ever revisit it. Once is enough!

Good luck with the last volume!

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I am currently feeling sorry for myself as I slog through Moby Dick. Suddenly that one seems very easy in comparison. Keep going. You'll make it, and be glad you did. sometimes reading is for the experience, not the enjoyment. :)