Thursday, January 31, 2013

War & Peace Check-In: January

Congratulations everyone! You've made it through what, according to goodreads, is 9% of the book. And this book isn't just any old book!

*It's known for being unlike normal books--which is what makes it controversial as a truly great work, I guess
*It's long
*It has Russian names

I'm going to share with you a few of my observations...I don't actually have any ~deep thoughts as of yet, and then ask you some questions which you can answer on your blog or in comments. I'm excited for all of the smart people to weigh in. Also, you should check out Iris's thoughts as well.

This book is already harder than Anna Karenina for me. Since the book is about five families (this is not something I would have come to on my own at this point, it's just in every description of the book) that makes sense. There's a big cast of characters to keep straight in an unfamiliar setting and time. Also, I just feel more distant from the characters than I did in AK. I don't know if that's maybe my translation, (I'm reading a different translator--Pevear & Volokhonsky) or just a case of the book being longer and more ambitious. Also, this translation keeps all the French in tact and sends me to notes at the bottom of the page for translation. (I was trying to say something in French today and realized it's pretty much all left me. Sad. It used to be so important to me!)

Matters of the Estate are always hard. I don't know, I've been going through a little bit of that in my own life right now and it's just so weird how it transforms and changes people. Barb, who is also reading along, recommended The Last Station to me which was actually about Tolstoy at the end of his life and the struggle he had with his wife over what was to become of his estate. It was kind of interesting to watch and think about with regards to this section of War & Peace and how people behave when this time comes. War & Peace was written before this happened in his own life, of course!

I'm glad, though, that Tolstoy's humor comes through. In the opening social event, Pierre is a bit...well he has no filter and makes everyone uncomfortable with his declarations.

"Pierre again burst into the conversation, and Anna Pavlovna, though she anticipated that he would say something improper, could no longer stop him." But it's when Prince Ippolit breaks in and insists on telling a story in Russian that I was amused..."though it was not clear why he had told it, and why it absolutely had to be told in Russian, all the same Anna Pavlovna and the others appreciated Prince Ippolit's social grace."

And it's interesting as well that Pierre, who for the most part no one really seems to like, inherits it all from his father and that people's attitudes towards him change when his father dies.

The only other thing I had to remark on was how preachy Princess Marya was to her poor friend! And I can only say that because I am one hundred percent sure I used to be that person, lol. So there was some uncomfortable remembrances of myself at that age? (I'm not sure how old she is actually!) when I used to think I knew it all and I would say that in emails, sigh.

I really wish I had an illustrated diagram of the characters to go with my reading. (Spoiler alert: check out this wikipedia list of characters, though! And I wish there was a companion book. There's one coming out in April, but it's quite pricey. But even so I am enjoying it and I'm looking forward to digging into it even more! My dad is listening on audio and is way ahead and he told me it turns tragic. So much to look forward to!

Okay a few questions for your consideration if you want to introduce yourself to everyone else or just wanted a starting place if you want to do a post of your own! (no pressure, though, you don't have to)

1) Why are you reading War & Peace?
2) What translation are you reading? Are you reading print, ebook, or audio?
3) So far, is it different than you expected or the same?
4) Do you have a favorite character? (lol just asking--I feel like I barely know these people)
5) Do you have any other predictions or expectations for the rest of the book?
6) What was your favorite part of the first section?
7) What do you see as the biggest obstacle to finishing?

So yeah, since we're just starting it feels like there's less to say but I'm hoping next month I'll have better questions for you. Also, for those of you following along on Kindle, part two is 21 chapters. We'll have a discussion on the 28th!

(PS Huge thanks to Renay for the button! Feel free to grab it and use it. She's not even reading along she just sent it out of the awesome kindness of her heart. If anyone else wants to make one you still can since I was sort of looking forward to making a War & Peace readalong care package.)

If you wrote about War & Peace today, please drop your link in the Mister Linky! (permalinks only--that means the direct link to your post, not the link to your blog in general)

Thanks for reading along everyone! It wouldn't be any fun without you.

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