Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Peace at last

I got so worn out reading War and Peace that it took me a couple of days to recover. Part of me had trouble leaving my Kindle behind when I left the house because I was sure I could pound out another 1-2% while in line at the grocery store or while waiting for my laundry to finish. But I was done! There was no more book to read! I could have the weekend to myself and move on. It was time to start another book. But I didn't. I couldn't.

I don't know that I've ever been so exhausted by a book. War and Peace was more tiring than Worm, though about half a million words shorter.

I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I kept wanting to fling the book against the wall. I was so tired of all the court rules and who could and couldn't marry one another, and people making just the most ridiculous self-sacrifices for reasons that must be fundamentally Russian because they sure as hell didn't translate to my experience. But neither did Corsican-Frenchmen. Napoleon was intensely frustrating to read, which I think was the point. I mean really almost the entire book was beautifully crafted and family relationships were moving and just so full of minute details that it hits you in the face like a cannonball.

Also every single word about the Masons seemed like an utter waste of space. I mean I get that it was probably supposed to be a very important illustration of Pierre's wavering nature that would prove to be such a striking contrast to his character after the burning of Moscow, but for fuck's sake I can't bring myself to care about Masons NOW, when they're supposed to be actually controlling the world, how could I work up the shits to give about an organization that was ineffectually laying the groundwork to eventually fail at taking over the world? I couldn't. Fuck the masons. And fuck fraternal orgs in general - let some ladies in on the action.

Was I the only one who was supremely creeped out by the benevolent misogyny of the final chapter, by the way? Probably not, not in the least because it was so jarring. The bizarre shift in Natasha's character threw me for a loop, and Natasha and Mary's conforming to their husbands was unexpected and utterly overwhelming.

I mean I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a book about an era obsessed with class would also be obsessed with making sure people fit into their roles, but I reserve my right to look askance at a novel that tacks happily-ever-after relationships onto the lives of two women who have been interesting and defiant and different every time we've seen them.

I'm glad it's done. I wouldn't say I'm done with Tolstoy, I liked how he crafted characters and his luxuriant wallowing in the scenes he set, but I need a hell of a break.

     - Alli

Tolstoy, Leo. War and Peace. Gutenberg.Org. 1869.

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