5 hours ago
Sunday, November 15, 2009
War and Peace Update
So on this, my second attempt to read War and Peace, I have reached page 505. (If you follow that link you'll find that this paperback book weighs three pounds.)
It is a bit heavy going (get it? Heavy?), mostly because of the often-remarked-upon Russian naming system. Not only does each character have multiple names, depending on who is addressing them, but there are also multiple "little princesses," "little countesses," and "princes" both old and young. I would very much like a chart of who everyone is and how they are all related, but when I began Googling in an attempt to find such an item, I encountered mostly spoilers, which I didn't want at all.
Anyway, the main characters are pretty much fixed in my mind now, and I'm moving forward. Here are some impressions so far:
* The battle descriptions are wonderful. I usually don't like reading about fights of any kind, but these accounts seem to me to have the perfect combination of fear, confusion, valor, cowardice, and noise. Then I love the way the characters later recast their experiences and turn them into tales of battlefield exploits.
* It's fascinating to read about Pierre and Andrey as each in his own way attempts to do good things for the serfs under his care. I could relate to this, not because I've ever owned legions of human beings and had power of life and death over them, or anything, but because our efforts to help the poor are so often fruitless, or bear completely different fruits from what we had intended.
* While everyone says this is a good translation, I am very much aware that I'm reading a translation and that I'm not getting the full flavor of the original. An example is the "religious pictures" which I'm assuming would be icons, and somehow "religious picture" doesn't have the same connotation at all.