Friday, 5 October 2012

A Reflection: War and Peace

“We are asleep until we fall in Love!”

I realize that I have not written in quite a while. There is a reason for this and it is that War and Peace is the longest book in the world* and has taken me forever to finish. BUT I am FINALLY Done!

War and Peace is often, acclaimed as one of the greatest books of all time. I am not going to argue with this-- as I think if you are to analyse books in a particular way and that you have a system of actually rating them-- this could very well be one of the greatest novels of all time. Similarly, if you base your love of books on the overall story, and you happen to like this one very much then I would say that would merit it being one of the greatest books of all time (for you). After reading this novel I will conclude that it was very well done on many fronts. ( I know I am being general here but come on I mean what can I say about Tolstoy that hasn't already been said?...making this wholre reflection redundant...).

In all honesty, I think one negative aspect of the novel is its length. This is probably one of the reasons that most people have not picked it up and actually read it, because the look of it itself is very daunting-- like a massive beast that sits up and takes the position of where three or four books should be on your shelf. I have to say that at first the length didn't daunt me because I had it on my e-reader. (Don't judge me, I know this is not how Tolstoy ever intended for this to be read-- but lets face it, when I can get one of the greats for free, with a decent translation and is a lot lighter carrying it on public transit, it does make the most sense). However, when I started reading it...and reading it...and reading it and then put it down and saw that I had only read 1% I slowly caught on that I was reading a beast.

As for the novel itself-- at first I had an overload of characters (many with the same or similar name) and had to keep looking up how they were all related and what each person's position was. Slowly this all gets straightened out in your mind. Amidst the lives of many individuals dwelling in the high society of Moscow and Petersburg, there is the war itself that Tolstoy expertly narrates. The novel was fast paced, and had a little bit of everything for everyone. What I found was that I would get so excited about certain characters that when it came time for the series of war chapters, I wasn't as "in" to the novel. This was just my experience with it, but when faced with that many characters you can't help but start to pick your favourites.

I found this novel even more interesting when I looked up a brief background of Tolstoy, who was very philosophical in his views and in his life time, and who looked and bargained with the same moral issues that many of the characters (Pierre in particular) negotiated through.

Overall, if you are not into 'The Napoleonic Wars' and the philosophy of how one creates and writes history, then this is probably not the book for you.

*It may not be the longes book, but it's pretty long
Up Next: The Secret Garden


  1. Sweet, how long did it take you to read in the end? i'm reading War and Peace now, up to chapter XX in the first book. I take it you read the Maude translation since you got it free on your ereader? I am also reading mine on my kindle (whose name is Enjolras) but sprung for the Pevear / Volokhonsky translation. 3 of my friends are also reading along with me, 2 of them have the same translation as me and one of them has the Garnett translation.
    By the way, have you seen this blog post? this man read all 12 translations of war and peace - some more than once!

  2. Hello Lost Kisses. I believe that it took me about three weeks to read War and Peace (but it was a while ago now, so I don't remember exactly. I think you are right-- it is the Maude translation. It's nice to read such a long book with people. I had not seen that blog post-- that would take a very long time together through all the different translations.