war and peace and everything

I finished reading War and Peace on Tuesday (that’s more or less an entire year spent reading it). I then spent Tuesday night and the greater part of Wednesday alternately wondering how I was going to blog about it, and procrastinating from thinking about how to blog about it.

I typed out some notes and ideas on Tuesday that I could use as a starting point, or perhaps form into some sort of outline. But the more I thought about it on Wednesday, the more I felt like there was no real point in writing anything about something for which so much has already been written.

Yet, at the same time, I felt like there was so much that I wanted to write about.

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in the house of Bolkonsky

Perhaps this will seem rather random, but I’m only writing this post in order to remember this early part of War and Peace. I’m quite sure that if I don’t write progressive notes (which will take the form of blog posts for my own ease of reference), by the time I finish the whole book, I could very well forget a lot from the earlier chapters.

At just over 200 pages in, I already reread some parts of the first few chapters in order to remind myself of who did what and who said what. And I am still referring back to the “principal characters” guide at the start of the novel now and then.

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W&P progress report

I’ve been reading War and Peace for about two months now, so I thought it would be a good time to do a progress post.

About a month ago, I estimated how long it would take me to finish reading this epic tome, and based on my previous reading rate, it was somewhere close to two years. I’ve never taken more than a year to finish reading a book, let alone two years, so the prospect was quite terrifying to me. As such, I made an effort to read more, and have trimmed back the timeline to less than one and a half years. I’m hoping with all the public holidays coming up, I might get a bit of a boost to my reading, and cut this back further.

I’m currently somewhere in the middle of Part Two, which is all about military stuff — something about the campaign against Napoleon. However, knowing nothing about Napoleon (except that he is a significant historical figure, who was allegedly quite short), I’m not sure I’m following everything that’s happening. I kind of feel like I need a quick history lesson before I proceed, but, the weather being humid and lethargy-inducing, I don’t really feel like learning.

Hopefully the weather will mellow out soon, and I’ll consider it. Until then, I will just half-guess based on the notes at the back of the book. 

For some reason I expected this to be similar to Anna Karenina in the sense that I didn’t need to know historical facts to really grasp what’s going on. I suppose I really should have known better based on the title and the blurb.

I’m still enjoying it, though. Tolstoy’s writing is as excellent as I remember (although I do think Anna Karenina was much easier to read, but that’s probably because the concepts themselves were easier to understand than in War and Peace).

I think I’m also finally getting a grasp of who’s who, which is no easy task considering how many characters there are, multiplied by all the different names with which each character is referred to. It probably helps that I’m reading more than I was before. I suppose it’s all about keeping it in working memory (and keeping my memory working).

Well, on that note, I think I’ll go laze around somewhere cool, and do some more reading!

and so it ends

This was just going to be a short post to say that I have, on this day, finished reading Anna Karenina (by Leo Tolstoy, not that I really need to state that), but, as it turns out, I’m not very good at writing short posts (surprise, surprise). Still, I’ll try to keep this kind of short, or at least not terribly long. (It’s less than 700 words – does that count?)

No spoilers here – just some general comments, and quotes from other sources.

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Levin

I’m nearing the end of Anna Karenina – I’ve got less than 100 pages to go – and it saddens me so much to know that I must come to the end of this novel that has not only kept me company but comforted me and taught me various things over the last few months. I know I can always just re-read it, and I probably will one day, but there are so many other books I want to read that I’m sure it will be a very, very long time before I do.

The other day when I was reading (probably on the bus on the way to work), I paused for a moment, and looked at the book in my hands – I had the book open, but I was looking at the actual book, not the words on its pages. It brought a sad smile to my face to see how few pages remained in my right hand, while my left hand held all the chapters I’d already read. It was a bittersweet feeling.

I think I mentioned somewhere in a previous post that I wanted to write separate posts for each of the main characters (or, I suppose, for the ones I consider to be main characters) but I wasn’t sure if I would follow through with that idea. I’m still not sure if I will, but, at the very least, I wanted to write one for Levin – Konstantin Dmitrich Levin. [If you choose to read on, please note that there will be spoilers in this post.]  Continue reading

and so it begins

I just started reading Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. It’s been about two weeks, and I’ve just finished Part One. I honestly don’t know what the whole story’s about (that’s my preferred way to read classics – or any book, really – I never really extensively research about the storyline, themes, characters, etc beforehand) so I’m just talking about Part One here.  Continue reading