Scott's Reviews > War and Peace

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
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's review
May 16, 12

bookshelves: 19th-century, russian, translation
Read in June, 2011

It feels kinda funny writing a review on a classic like War and Peace, but here goes. It's definitely one of those things that's worth reading. A shining example of 19th century realism. A little bit of historical philosophy in between. It's not quite a novel (as Tolstoy himself said); it just is what it is, part narrative, part theory, part history... Despite its length, I found most of it really interesting and it kept me quite engaged (with a couple notable exceptions perhaps).

Some really interesting stuff going on too. I think there's a separation being made between 'masculine' and 'feminine' aspects of society. On the masculine side, Tolstoy puts war, politics, government, etc; on the feminine side, we get every day happenings, parties, society, etc. If this was a typical binary distinction, then Tolstoy would value the masculine over the feminine, but I don't think that's the case (which is what makes it interesting). If anything, the every day happenings are as significant as a general leading an army. People attending parties and falling in love is as important to history as the great wars of history. Kind of interesting when you think of it like that.

Tolstoy is also rejecting the Modern idea of individual 'Man' as being in absolute control of his life; and of having the liberty to direct history. Instead, all humans are part of a great dance where we all play our parts, but one person will never change the direction of history. There is so much going on in the universe, and we are subject to all these happenings. I think there's something almost spiritual about this point of view. There's a great force guiding us all, and the human mind will never be able to fully comprehend how interconnected everything in this universe is.

Definitely worth the read, if you have the time
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