Tuesday, 17 February 2015

War & Peace Read-a-long: Hanna's Week Two Check-In

It seems as though everybody has a busy week last week - the general consensus seems to be that we all still like War & Peace, but work, family and Valentine's Day-related activities have disrupted our getting through as many chapters as we'd have liked.

I'm no different, despite this being my own read-a-long! I did actually finish the allocated chapters on time but considering that I'm typing this on Tuesday, it's safe to say that I may be slightly behind. I can't even say why really, other than my Internet at home has been almost non-existent and I've had a lot of things to finish before I start my new job in a fortnight.

Hey ho. I still can't believe I'm 25% through War & Peace, so I'm not going to complain too much!

We've started to move into the more military-based aspects and I have to admit that I don't enjoy those quite as much as the parlour-based scandals. I have been skimming the more technical descriptions a little but I haven't really had a problem engaging.

I did feel relieved when Book/Part Three took us back to Moscow, although that didn't last long, did it?  

I'm not sure whether this features in different translations, but it's starting to irritate me that certain accents are typed out phonetically. '"I've been losing, bwother, all night long, like a son of a bitch," cried Denisov. "Wotten luck? Bwing me a dwink!"

It does the same with a German soldier further on and it grates inside my head every. single. time.

What I also find odd is that occasionally Tolstoy just starts talking in the first person plural for no reason, talking about 'our soldiers' and 'our victory.' Well, alright, I know Tolstoy was Russian but he can't have assumed every person to ever read it was going to be... especially has it has large chunks of French (apparently).

1) Do you feel that the tone of the novel has changed this week? Has that affected your enjoyment?
I'd agree that the tone has changed, yes (well of course I do, it was my question). I do still really like War & Peace although I have to admit that I find the military description less interesting than the Moscow antics. Still, considering I'd expected the whole book to be like this I still feel grateful that it's so accessible and engaging.

2) Do you feel comfortable telling other people that you're reading War & Peace?  
Due to my mildly busy week I haven't had time to read another book alongside this, so I've had to drag this out in public with me. Well, I say had - I suppose I could quite easily just not take a book with me... except not.
Anyway I haven't gone out of my way to tell people that I'm reading War & Peace although I have had it on my desk once or twice at work. I do usually manage to slip into the conversation how accessible it is, so I don't look like some pretentious hipster!  

3) How do you feel about Helene and Pierre's marriage? Happily ever after or mildly doomed?
I'm not sure. He's a bit of an ass for marrying her when he thinks she's stupid but will look good naked... however he was strong-armed into it by Prince Vasily (who I heavily dislike, by the way). It was also quite cute how they were sat at the dinner table together, all awkward and smiley together.
But no, I don't see it going well, as much as I'd like it to. I reckon he'll realise that they have nothing in common and the moral of the story will be not to marry a person based on your fantasies of your wedding night.

4) Should Marya have married Anatole or should she have stayed at home with her Father?
I feel awful for Marya, I just want to hug her.
I completely agree that she shouldn't have married Anatole (because he was too busy making out with her friend in the garden) but she should absolutely have called him out on it instead of declaring that she loved her father too much to leave him.
I really can't tell if Tolstoy is being satirical with these OTT accounts of women or if he genuinely believes that they're all vapid, vain and petty. 

5) Andrei has featured in a lot of the war-related chapters so far. Do you think he'll ever make it to military greatness?

Yes, I think he probably will. He has all the features that were believed to make a great Commander - he's bossy, pretentious, arrogant and a complete asshole. So while I'd infinitely rather he stayed at home and cried under a desk, I don't see it.

Assuming he's not dead, anyway.


  1. I also felt that the Moscow scenes were too short! I wanted more drama! ;) We did get a lot of it, though, and at least the war scenes at the end of Book 3 weren't as difficult to get through as they were in Book 2. I'm excited to see what happens next!

    1. I've finished this week's chapter already, and it's almost entirely in Moscow. SO MUCH DRAMA. I honestly can't wait to talk about it :)

  2. Apparently Denisov speaks differently in all of the different editions - mine has each r sound spelled out like ghr, so really becomes ghreally. It is a bit annoying, but at least it made him easy to recognise when he's speaking! Haha.

    I found him using the first person plural weird too! I wonder if that is actually something that is okay in Russian and the translators just didn't think that it would be a bit weird in English? Hmm...

    I'm hoping for satire for his treatment of women! We'll see I guess. If this was a book that had been written recently I might be fuming about that right now, but seeing as it was written so long ago I'm prepared to overlook that kind of thing!

    This post made me giggle quite a bit :)

    1. Really? Ah, that's interesting... The way my version has him speaking just makes him sound silly and a bit camp, so it's hard to take him seriously!

      Ah there you are again, with your translator-ish insight :) You might be right... I just notice EVERY TIME it happens and it jerks me out of the flow somewhat.

      Haha, me too! Don't get me wrong, I'm not angry about it - I totally understand that was the way of the times... I'd just be interested to understand the meaning (if any) behind it.

    2. I notice every time it happens too, I do still think it's weird, and probably something that they should have fixed! I'm assuming your translation doesn't have men calling other men "My gentle" and "My dear" all of the time, because that always pulls me out of the book a bit too, hehe. Also the bit in my translation about Rostov touching up his horse made me laugh, hehe.

      Yeah, I would be interested to understand the meaning behind it too. And to know more about Tolstoy (stop typing Tolkien Jenny!) so I could figure out what his actual views were about women.


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