Classics and the Western Canon discussion

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War and Peace > Epilogue 1 and 2

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message 1: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments What did the epilogues add to your appreciation of the book?


message 2: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 163 comments The first epilogue tied off the story, it wasn't an entirely 'happy ever after' but I appreciated the realism. I was happy for Natalya and Pierre, yet I couldn't help feeling that Nicholas was missing something- maybe life is too quiet?
The second epilogue whooshed over my head I'm afraid.


message 3: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4430 comments I can imagine a modern day editor sitting down with Tolstoy and saying, "I think you've got a great book here. It's gonna be a smash hit, I just know it. But about this second epilogue, we gotta talk."


message 4: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 163 comments Thanks for that!


message 5: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments I like how the narrative ends in book 15 without a specific fate for Princess Mary. Natasha suggests that Mary will one day be married to Nicholas but Mary stops her and says "never speak of that". And so the story ends. Then we move on to an epilogue in which one possible outcome is explored. It seems that Tolstoy presents it as the best possible outcome for the family and all his main characters - Nicholas marries Princess Mary (who then takes the title of Countess) and resolves his father's debts, gives his mother a comfortable life and looks after Sonya. It seems that it could have gone differently and Nicholas could have married Sonya, his mother might have gotten used to less wealth and status, and she could have lived with Natasha and Pierre. Princess Mary had the spiritual strength to personal wealth to have persevered, she may have lost her family's land or she may have found a way to earn the respect of the peasants and serfs, her young nephew would had to step up to responsibility at a younger age than in the scenario that Tolstoy chose for his epilogue.

For a writer who has been making the case that events cannot go in any other direction from which history has been leading them, it is curious how book 15 ends without a definite fate. I like to think of the first epilogue as being only one of a number of possibilities for the family. I do sense that Tolstoy sees it as the best possible outcome for the family and all the characters (including Sonya, although I find it strange that he keeps her under Nicholas's care instead of having her live with Natasha & Pierre).


message 6: by Cass (new)

Cass | 533 comments I liked the first epilogue. Off to go read the final one. I stupidly (?) got hooked into the novel and couldn't put it down, then finished it well ahead of the discussions and then decided to go make headway in my dusty bookshelf and, alas, I let the discussions pas me by all last month. Never mind there will be plenty more books. Off to read the final chapter.


message 7: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 163 comments I doubt one can call get hooked on Tolstoy 'stupid' Cas- brilliant is more like it.


message 8: by Mike (new)

Mike (mcg1) | 73 comments Quick question: what ideological groups did the Bonaparists recruit from in France? Were they primarily disaffected Jacobins, royalists who gave up, or was Napolean genuinely popular enough among the French middle class to overcome both extremes? I know that the conservative Senate venerated him, but I don't really know much about his support among the common people during the First Republic, the Directory, and the Consulate.


message 9: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments Mike wrote: "Quick question: what ideological groups did the Bonaparists recruit from in France? Were they primarily disaffected Jacobins, royalists who gave up, or was Napolean genuinely popular enough among t..."

I don't know, but it is a question worth thinking about: I suspect it may have changed over time, as the movement grew. By 1812, weren't some of the soldiers from the newly conquered countries?


message 10: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments Ah, I had to go look up exactly what Bonapartism was, and I see it is not exactly what I thought it was (in that it came after Napoleon's death). I found this tidbit in wikipedia to be curious:
The honey bee was a prominent political emblem for both the First and Second Empires,[2] representing the Bonapartist ideal of devoted service, self-sacrifice and social loyalty

It makes me appreciate how Tolstoy used the analogy of the beehive (as a description of living vs dead cities) to turn the emblem of bonapartism on its head.


message 11: by Mike (new)

Mike (mcg1) | 73 comments Yeah, I think the honey bees neatly tied in to the idea that Napolean was the queen bee, and everyone else was a drone. Well, the French wanted egalitarianism...

I've increasingly become sold on Hegel over the past couple of years. Hegelians talked about the idea of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis as the triadic formula. In this case, the Old Regime was the thesis, and the Jacobins came along as the antithesis. Finally, Napolean entered the scene and synthesized large themes from each.


message 12: by Lily (last edited Nov 27, 2013 12:06PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5030 comments Honeybees as symbols also always take me to medieval Florence (as well as 17th century Rome) and the house of Barberini.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barberin...


message 13: by Jeremy C. Brown (new)

Jeremy C. Brown | 163 comments The epilogues added greatly to my appreciation of the whole book. I kept thinking to myself I'd like to go through the book again some day but reading the epilogues first so I have them fresh in my mind while I do. :-)


message 14: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5030 comments Jeremy wrote: "The epilogues added greatly to my appreciation of the whole book. I kept thinking to myself I'd like to go through the book again some day but reading the epilogues first so I have them fresh in m..."

Great idea, Jeremy! I once figured I'd never get W&P read once; now this was a second time, and I rather hope that there shall be a third. It is so richly layered.


message 15: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments Lily wrote: "It is so richly layered.
..."


It is. I never get tired of looking back over my notes.


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