War and Peace! Goodreads assures me that I am 16% through you, which is a little disheartening because last post I was 9% through and I haven't even doubled that yet, but I am enjoying you nonetheless.
Obsessive percentage-tracking aside, I am really getting into War and Peace. I've taken fellow readalonger Jason's advice and given up on trying to remember everybody, and instead trying to just appreciate the story for what it is on its own. It's working! Though I still can't tell you the difference between Prince Andrei and Prince Oblonsky (wrong Tolstoy novel?) and Prince Bolkonsky, I can tell you that Part II is full of the gruesome, grizzly, violent details of War that really move this novel far beyond the Peace-with-Imminent-War we encountered in Part I.
And that war is heart-wrenching, no?
We encounter bored soldiers who are eager for action, clueless as to the pain and violence that will befall them when they actually experience war. We watch as the Russians score a decisive victory, only to have it belittled, wiped away, and generally looked over in light of the terrible news coming from other corners of the battle. We follow Rostov (is he the one in love with one of the girls from Part I?) as he charges into battle and is injured in short order, barely understanding what has happened to him and unable to follow the flow of the charging troops in his haze.
At the end of the day, what is most trying about this war is that these men are just men, as they are in every other war ever fought. They have their own hopes and dreams and aspirations and failings and problems and lives, but they have been brought together to fight for a cause they may or may not believe in, and may or may not fully understand. In doing so, though, they become part of something larger than themselves:
"Understand that we're either officers serving our tsar and fatherland, and rejoice in common successes and grieve over our common failures, or we're lackeys, who have nothing to do with their masters' doings. Forty thousand men massacred and the army of our allies destroyed, and you find an excuse for laughing... It's all right for a worthless fellow...but not for you, not for you."Looking forward to Part III, perhaps re-encountering some of the peace (or more war, either way), and moving that percentage tracker a little further along.
If you've read this one, what am I missing? What should I be on the lookout for?
War and Peace | Leo Tolstoy, trans. Richard Peaver and Larissa Volokhonsky | Vintage Classics | 2011 (originally published 1865) | Paperback | 1248 pages | Buy from an independent near you