Thursday, May 14, 2009

War and Peace: An Update

Well, it's been 3 months since I started War and Peace so I thought I'd give you an update. By my original calculations, I should have been to about page 630 by now, but alas, I've just reached page 400. My goal was to finish it by my birthday (July 23rd) but it looks like I'm headed towards New Year's 2010. Sigh. Oh well, at least I'm still at it, right?

War and Peace hasn't been an easy book to get into. It seems like we're just barely getting past the intro, which makes sense. It usually takes 1/3 of the book or so to really get into the meat and get to know the characters and such. I think I'm just beginning to get all the characters straightened out. Which in itself is tough. There are like 50 different characters who each have 5 different names that all end in "-ov."

But, I'm actually starting to like it I think. I don't fall asleep as easily as I used to and I tend to get sucked into reading "just one more chapter" on a somewhat regular basis. There's more twists and turns and drama going on to keep things lively. Can you believe Rostov lost 43,000 roubles in a poker game? Yeah me neither. He never knows when to say "when." Ok, I have no idea how much 43,000 roubles is. That's part of the problem with this book. I don't know what half of the things are that these people talk about. Even if I did know how much 43,000 roubles was, it doesn't mean anything compared to today's equivalent. And they use all these words that aren't even in the dictionary. I know because I look up words all the time. About 50% of the time they aren't in it. Granted I use a small general purpose dictionary, but still. There's a unit of distance measurement they use all the time called a "verst." It's used in the way we use "miles." No idea how far a "verst" is. I'm sure I could find answers to all these questions using my friend the Internets, but if I stop to look up every single thing, it's going to take me til New Years 2020 to finish this thing.

So, it's slow going. I'm not sure I understand everything I should, but I'm giving it my best shot. It's like reading the King James Version of the Bible. It's English, but it's not. My wonderful friend Heidi was nice enough to give me her made-up version of "Cliff's Notes" for War and Peace. They were very helpful.

Heidi's Cliff's Notes for War and Peace
(slightly edited for sensitive audiences)
"There was this War and then afterwards there was this Peace. And Tolstoy said Blahbiddy blah blah blah. Some hot air. THE END. In Russian."


heidi said...


I'm still proud of my comments. When I recited my "Cliff Notes" to hubbie Paul, I did the "In Russian" part right BEFORE "The End." Funnier that way, and the rhythm is better. Very important in Cliff Notes that the rhythm be right.

And... it's probably good you edited the three words that came after "Some hot air..." I would prefer that your readers think of me as a person of refined, delicate sensibilities. After all, I work with children! I make sure to NEVER reference bodily functions with children. I know how it upsets them. :D

I have to admit... When I read "Anna Karenina" I ended up reading a few chapters and then scanning to the end... And wasn't sorry. And, I've been meaning to read "The Brothers Karamozav" forEVER! Different author, I know, but same problem... Those Russian authors! They're... dense. *Sigh.* But, I think if I BUY a copy of Bros. K I will read eventually.
In my own defense... I HAVE read SIGNIFICANT excerpts of Tolstoy's writing on Peace, and on Education! My bro Jason gave me the Peace writings book in high school when he went through this super-duper pacifist phase and had these, long, mutually delightful/engaged conversations with army recruiters... the Ed. one I found myself! It was referenced in other Ed. books and I was fascinated! It took forever to find... Back before... AMAZON!

Speaking of "Amaz..." I think you're AMAZING! How'd you make it to page 400?! You've got grit, girl!


p.s. Your CAMPING blog is my mini-War & Peace... a veritable novel! With PICTURES! I can't wait! When I'm back from my trip with... COLLETTE MY HEROINE... I might make a bowl of popcorn and really SAVOR the experience!

Karen said...

I was supposed to read The Brothers Karmozov in English class in high school. I think I actually tried for a while but ended up being extrememly frustrated when I'd come to class and they'd discuss what our reading assignment was and I'd be sitting there thinking, "I don't remember all THAT happening." It was like I was reading a completely different book than everyone else was. But now I'm way more intellectual. Ok, I still don't know what's going on, but at least I don't have to compare myself to a room full of eggheads. :D

heidi said...

I'd rather listen to your great insights about Lit and Life(or anything!) than a roomful of eggheads' ideas, anyday! You are so intellectual. Plus you're dropdead gorgeous with great hair, and how many other intellectuals can boast about that?! (Not to mention the Mad Cookin' Skilz?!)