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Friday, December 12, 2008

War and Peace - Ostensibly Volume 1 Discussion

Overall I felt this was a lot of detail building up characters and setting a tone for the novel. Some of the accounts of the men's reaction to war was almost comical, but I thought a rather rare peak into the real emotions. So many novels I've read, are riddled with heroism and courage. Which I'm sure happens. But in the face of death, how many people crumble inside? I know I would.

The character of Andrei I found enticing in so many ways. He tries so hard to be valiant, to make some mark on the war. In his mind he pictures all his heroic deeds. I can relate to this. Dreamers. His realization that all he loved was power. That he would even trade his son and wife for that power made me feel disgust with him. But I was still interested in what would happen to him. Now that he's had some sort of spiritual experience from being wounded I'm curious to see where he will take it and if power will remain such a desirable thing for him. It certainly diminished his lofty view of Napoleon. I also thought that his fall, being wounded so early into his attempt at glory, points to the reality of life and how easily we can be pulled from our mental pedestals.

Political wrangling over the estate of the Count seemed to be treated like a side story in comparison to the war chapters but I found it very interesting. Boris' marriage though foreshadows something negative in my mind. It just seems he was too easily thrown into it without his own will. He has a weakness for giving in to others without asserting himself or even thinking situations through enough to have assertions. I think it will be fun to return to this story line and find what happens to him.

I like Tolstoy's characterization of women so far too. Not completely powerless. But varied. I like that they are not all the same. Either valiantly bold, powerfully cunning, or simpering and weak. Some authors have a tendency to slot women like that and give no attention to the reality that women are as different as men. (Dickens for example)

As for the writing itself, I am enjoying the book. It looks daunting, but as soon as I pick it up I'm completely engaged. So much detail and people to track, and yet each story so far has held my interest.

And what are your thoughts on the novel so far?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Questions, Proceeding

I commented this but no one noticed. (boo hoo right?) Anyhow, I decided I should just post it up and get your attention.

Ok I obviously have a different translation and in light of that, I may be mistaken in assuming it was Tolstoy who divided the book that way. Hmmm. I would suppose the chapters are the same though mine are numbered by the volume (i.e. Volume 1 Part 1 etc). So, would you mind checking page 294 or thereabouts? Is that the end of a chapter for you? If it is, is it also the point at which Prince Andrei is wounded and Napoleon is sending him to his doctor for care? This would be the end of volume one for me. If that is any kind of logical breaking point in your books, maybe we'll be able to figure out a system.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

This Book Club Accepts No Failures!

Well folks. I've thought this over for the last few days and here is the conclusion I've come to:

We are a book club (albeit strange), we read the books we planned to. That means, gosh darnit we're reading this one. Ever onward Russian students!

But, I really liked Patches idea in her comment of the last post. So I want to break the book into the four volumes Tolstoy did and then discuss each volume. This will give us a more manageable goal and render the book a little less daunting I think. Also, it will facilitate easier discussion. If we wait till the end we're either going to forget a lot, or have volumes to say. So. Can you guys make it to the end of volume one by this coming Friday? Are you already there? I will tentatively set the discussion for volume one to Friday, but if you all are already there or past, we'll move back to Tuesday.

I'm glad to be back in this space. Thanks for hanging with me.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Apologies and Engines Revving

Shall we start again?

Let me first apologize. What kind of book group leader leaves and doesn't even write a note? Like 'out to lunch be back in three weeks'. I've been mired in home responsibilities and celebrations. 'Tis the season after all.

And, like the others reading this book, War and Peace is kicking my butt up and down the street. Not only is it a huge book, but I'm reading it slower than ever. I mean s----l----o----w slow. It requires so much attention and keeping track and following of minute details that I need to read it more cautiously, or I will miss something. So yeah, butt, up and down the street.

So I'm here, humbly asking what you guys think. Should we take a week to get hold of the new book (see below) and then start reading the new book and keep plugging at War and Peace in the meantime? Or should we be diligent Russian students and muck through what is truly a wonderful book, just difficult reading?

Give me an idea where you stand, where you're at in the book if you're reading it, and we'll just get this train moving again.

The next book, unceremoniously opened is:

Truck: A Love Story by Michael Perry. ISBN: 978-0060571184

Ta Da!