Sunday, January 29, 2006

Why we love Tolstoy

now reading: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

"The Bible legend tells us that the absence of toil -- idleness -- was a condition of the first man's state of bliss before the Fall. This love of idleness has remained the same in fallen man, but the curse still lies heavy on the human race, not only because we have to earn our bread in the sweat of our brow, but because our moral nature is such that we are unable to be idle and at peace. A secret voice tells us that we ought to feel guilty when we are idle. If man could find a state in which though idle he could feel that he was of some use and was fulfilling his duty, he would have discovered one of the elements of primeval bliss. And such a state of obligatory and irreproachable idleness is enjoyed by a whole class -- the military. It is just this obligatory and irreproachable idleness that has always constituted the chief attraction of military service." --p. 590

I am steadily progressing, now in Part Four of Book II. Slow and steady wins the race. I have lately realized that reading War and Peace really is a major life goal to be checked off my list. I mean, I have used that as the definitive thing-I-need-to-get-around-to-doing for so long that I wonder what will possibly replace it.

So, Natasha and Andrei. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I think Mr. T is trying to drop some hints that the relationship is destined for tragedy. At any rate, they are so ridiculously in love that as I sit in IKEA Cafe -- it's just a cafe, minus the IKEA furniture store -- across the street from work sipping my cappuccino and reading my daily dose of W & P, I get all warm and fuzzy and squishy-like feeling just thinking about it.

Pierre and his Freemasonry are a little wacky. Pierre is just lost. I'm not sure what to make of him. I do, however, think Mr. T is sassy about religion and a little subversive, but in a matter-of-fact way so people don't see him as confrontational and antagonistic. I adopt that approach sometimes, but not as well as him, methinks.

Rostov's gambling nightmare was painful, truly painful, to read. I know what it's like to have such nightmarish debts that some kind soul such as your parent graciously -- too graciously --bails you out of. You can only hope to make yourself worthy in the future. I also know what it's like to watch someone have that psychological power over you. It reminded me of Yvonne or something. Ahhh, my crazy past.

So Michael has posed some tantalizing and hard questions. I wish he would also post some *answers* to this blog--hint, hint. Well, now, how does one come to be called revolutionary? Even people who fight, or who are radical, aren't always revolutionary. Revolution implies turning the known world on its head, eh.

I think this requires some further discussion and thought. I shall get back to it. First, to think about Tolstoy v Dostoevsky for a minute. I think they're both great. I also think that Tolstoy has somehow cemented his place as "the most important," but I'm not sure exactly why that is. The sheer length of his tomes? I myself am a huge fan of Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment and Notes from Underground ... phenomenal stuff.

This requires contemplation. Contemplate, I shall, but my time is short tonight. I'll try to post some revolutionary Russian author thoughts in (I hope) the next day or two.

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