Reading ‘War and Peace’ on Sundays has become a routine for me. I try to read as much before going to bed during the other days of the week, but I always set aside my Sunday afternoons for Project Tolstoy. After eating Sunday lunch with the parental units, I find myself reading Tolstoy over my usual post-meal coffee.
So far, Rostov has gambled a fortune. Pierre has joined the Masons. Andrei is sulking at Bald Hills.
The short reddish fingers and the hairy wrists of Dolokhov’s hands, however, is the lingering image that has stuck on me since yesterday’s session.
in a nutshell, I am enjoying a steady progress through reading my first novel on PDF.
I am thoroughly enjoying my rereading of the book, and can’t wait for Prince Andre to finally make his play for Natasha! I love the way Tolstoy lays out the scene for the seduction of Andre’s soul: “As soon as he opened the shutters the moonlight, as if it had long been watching for this, burst in to the room.”
Meanwhile, Pierre has begun to grate on me with his naive contentions about freemasonry. And Princess Mary, with all her virtues, needs to redeem herself in my eyes now that I see how gullible she too can be. It’s interesting to note how religious fanaticism has held up through the years. Peasant or count, illiterate or scholarly–someone is always bound to get looped into it.
And I applaud the now quite jaded Nicholas, who is trying to do all he can for his friend Denisov! As for social climber extraordinaire Boris, I hope he chokes on his hachis de fruits secs and dies.
For the past week, reading W&P is the first thing that I do after I wake up and the last one before I sleep. Last night, I was a little wild-eyed, right after finishing Volume 4, Part 1. If someone had seen me, he would have thought that I lost it.
This part is fierce yet delicately written. It left an indelible mark inside me. The feeling that I had was so intense that I kept seeing flickering white flashes as I closed my eyes and forced myself to sleep (it was already 5 AM). Then the lonely light of morning shone through the window, which somehow amplified what I was feeling. That emotion is similar to what you feel in that fleeting interval between the last wave of the conductor’s baton to his orchestra, signaling the finish of the last movement of a symphony, and the long applause from the audience.
Then I woke up. I decided not to read this afternoon because I still want to keep alive all the thoughts, feelings, and images evoked last night. I know I am really vague, but I might be banned from this site for saying anything further. It’s a major spoiler. Besides, this should be about the middle part, and I am already talking about the last quarter of the book.
To everyone who passed on this opportunity to read this monumental work, you are missing a lot. I am no longer doing this because of the challenge or whatever. I am reading this because of my love for, and the beauty of, reading.
And really, you don’t have to be smart to appreciate this book. It’s hard not to fall in love with it. I am not a smart reader myself, but W&P has already grown so dear to me.
Anyway, regarding the halfway mark (at hindi na pala naalala eh, haha), the writer draws beautiful contrasts when writing about the action at battlefields. He would go on describing the magnificence of the sun, the early morning dew, the pink clouds in the horizon, the shadows of mountains, the dense tree tops, the intricate beauty of nature. And in this backdrop are two opposing armies, doing the war business like it was the most mundane thing in the world. And you are transported from one head to another. It’s really complex, what with the chain of events and the varied responses of the people caught in this, but Tolstoy woved everything seamlessly.
Lately, I have taken to reading War and Peace while listening to Tchaikovsky ballet suites. Having Tchaikovsky in the background while reading Tolstoy somehow just makes everything… flow. Totally makes me forget that at the end of this book, I am going to have carpal tunnel from reading laying sideways in bed. I just cannot put the book down.
Now that I think of it, I have to download Rachmaninoff so I can listen to it while reading Dostoevsky. Quite the perfect accompaniment.