Sunday, March 1, 2009

Review: War and Peace

Finally!!!! Yes, it was sort of fun in a snobbish way, to carry around this door stop of a book and have people comment on the fact that I was reading it--if they really believed I was reading it and not just carrying it around to look smart. But I am more than glad to have finished this behemouth. Of course, now I have to try and review it, which is liable to expose my less than intelligent reading of it shamefully obviously. So let's just lay it out in the open, I am not nearly intelligent enough to read this anymore. (I say anymore because once upon a time I was truly smart and could read brain-challenging things like this, get something out of them, and converse thoughtfully on them. Not so much anymore.) So. My opinion of War and Peace? It's more like a novel and a philosophical treatise mashed into one and this less than discerning, very superficial reader found this an uneasy pairing. I think I read somewhere that Tolstoy most liked the bits I didn't so I probably missed the entire point of the book. What I liked: the domestic scenes, the characters' lives and interactions which showed war and peace perhaps better than the instances I didn't like. What I didn't like: the authorial intrusions discussing what makes a great military leader or the nature of war, and the extended accounting of troop movements and the intricacies of battle made my eyes glaze over with boredom. These bits were eminently soporific and contributed to the length of time it took me to read the book since I would page forward to see how long I had to endure what I was reading before getting back to the actual characters and when I saw with dismay the sheer number of pages of this ahead of me, I promptly stashed a bookmark in the book and took a nap. I have caught up on my sleep until 2010 (I had a lot of back sleep to catch up on) as a result. Had we managed to stay with the Bolkonskys, the Bezukhovs, the Rostovs, and the Kuragins, among others, I would have been a much happier reader, as the twists and turns in their lives and fortunes was most engrossing for me. As it stands though, War and Peace contains both halves and so while I feel a sense of accomplishment for having read it from cover to cover, I'm not sure it's something I can recommend to any but those who already want to check it off their lifetime reading lists.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you! I have tried 3 times to read *War and Peace* and haven't completed it yet.

    I always (OK, usually) read a book before seeing a movie, but I'm thinking I might watch a version of this on DVD before attempting it again!

    (To further redden my face, my most recent attempt was for the book group at our library, and I dropped out when I realized how much I was NOT enjoying the book!)


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