Friday, February 24, 2006


I've reached it. Page 1000. It's all downhill from here.

But I really won't want it to end! And I've even found myself holding back this week: I have slowed my reading pace, because I feel like War and Peace is a little world I'm inhabiting and I'm not ready to move.

As mentioned in my main blog I read a chunk of The Book, specifically the Borodino battle scenes, while sitting in the back row of the random sweat-smelling auditorium where we will hold preschool graduation this weekend and where on Thursday we had a rehearsal that purported to be a run-through but was more like a disaster. Needless to say, it was a strange juxtaposition of the mess of 5-year-old children delivering speeches, poems, songs and dances and the mess of soldiers delivering cannon fire, messages to their commanders, prayers. One was a chaotic battle gone awry but nonetheless destined to go down in history, and the other was great literature!

I'm definitely worried that Prince Andrei is going to die. He's spending a lot of pages feeling that he's about to die. And it's interesting to see how it makes him grapple with life, including the reminiscence about Natasha delightedly telling him a story one evening and him truly understanding her. It made me wonder--again--why did their relationship have to be doomed? Or, was it not, and she just sucks for screwing it up? I really related to Natasha and saw so many echoes of my falling for a twit in their falling for each other.

You may recall that while I've meant to read this book forever, part of what has re-sparked my interest of late is what I can gain from it vis-a-vis the current political situation in the U.S.A. Specifically, Napoleon=Dubya. Well that was ringing true in this week's reading! Things fall apart for Monsieur l'empereur and he just sits there atop his horse kind of shocked: Wait, I can't lose a war! Everyone's supposed to be admiring me! What's going on!

"This man, predestined by Providence for the deplorable, ineluctable role of executioner of peoples, persuaded himself that the motive of his acts had been the welfare of peoples, and that he could control the destinies of millions and do good by the exercise of his power!" - p. 981

In fact, that quote would be perfect, except I don't give Bush as much credit on that score as many analysts do. I think he's far more insidious than misguided. (And he's plenty misguided.)

"He boldly assumed full responsibility for what had happened, and his beclouded mind found justification in the belief that among the hundreds of thousands of men who lost their lives, there were fewer Frenchmen than Hessians and Bavarians." --p. 982

Tolstoy grappled with war, I know. It brought a lot of things to his life, not the least of which was wisdom that influenced this very masterpiece. But in this turning point scene, he reiterates how very senseless it is, how absurd to slaughter our fellow men, and how it is still more folly to think we actually understand history.

His mathematical-philosophical-historical motion musings at the start of Book Three Part Three are utterly brilliant. In fact, I hereby urge all of you, absolutely regardless of whether you're reading this book now or ever will, to go directly to your nearest bookstore, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and pick up the Signet Classic paperback ISBN 0451-52326-1 edition and read pages 985-991. Mr. T. is brilliant.

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