Sunday, September 1, 2013
War and Peace, Volume III, Part Two
-I really liked the parts involving women: Princess Marya's confusion and all of her mixed-up feelings around her father's death and the approaching armies as well as all the chatter at the salons with one faction praising the French and the other attempting to be patriotic Russians while still falling back on speaking French (somewhat makes me think of Americans trying to make "Freedom Fries" and the like happen.)
-Loved learning that apparently Tolstoy spent two days at the site of the battle of Borodino, even going so far as to make a map even though it resulted in some of the most boring pages. If I wanted to read a military account of the Napoleonic wars, I would! But what I want to read is creative and exciting historical fiction.
-Did not like reading about the return of Denisov with his stupid speech impediment. I hate the way the translators chose to render it in English.
-For the most part, I actually liked a lot of the battle scenes, especially falling back to see Napoleon and Kutuzov's perspectives. They take us a step back and allow Tolstoy to rhapsodize about history and the will of men, which is the reason for success or not in battle. It felt very philosophical and intended to be profound. Kutuzov in particular was a favorite with his portrayal as a general, not trying to direct individual troops but trying to direct the spirit and harness it for his own ends (at least that was the understanding I had.)
-I also liked Tolstoy's comments about historians looking back in hindsight and saying "of course Napoleon intended this..." or "of course the Russians intended this..." and his ironic treatment of that because of course it is only by seeing what actually happened that we deem someone astute while rejecting any contrary statements they may have also made.
For the month of September, we're reading Volume III, Part Three, which brings that volume to a close and marks the 75% mark-yay for taking things slow and at a measured pace!