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Archived > War and Peace - Week 1

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message 1: by Marta (last edited Oct 05, 2017 05:23PM) (new)

Marta (gezemice) | 214 comments Week 1 - oct-01 - oct-07: Book 1

Please post your opening thoughts about the book.


message 2: by Marta (new)

Marta (gezemice) | 214 comments Some might find it useful to have some discussion topics. Answering these questions are optional - you may choose to write your own thoughts, answer the questions, or both.

The first two questions are from Penguin Random House.

1. Richard Pevear suggests that, “The first thing a reader today must overcome is the notion of War and Peace as a classic, the greatest of novels, and the model of what a novel should be,” and focus on the immediate experience of reading it. What is the experience of reading the first few chapters? What seems clear, and what is confusing? What do you think Tolstoy wants you to experience as the novel begins?

2. Tolstoy distinguishes between characters who have integrity and those who operate more superficially and with greater self-interest in the social worlds of Petersburg and Moscow. What do Prince Vassily’s remarks reveal about him and the way he feels about his children? What do the conversations at these two parties tell us about the main concerns of the Russian aristocracy?


message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (mich2689) | 219 comments Just finished Book 1. When I first started reading, I was hoping it wouldn't take too long to get into the book and I must say, by the time I was a few chapters in, I was hooked. We got introduced to some very interesting characters and I'm anxious to know more about what's going to happen in the upcoming books. I'm going to attempt to answer the discussion questions.

1. Before I started the book, I did tell myself that this is one of the best classic novels out there and therefore I should make an effort to tackle it despite the daunting size of it. However, as I started reading, I quickly forgot about all that and just flowed with the "immediate experience of reading it." The characters became alive on the pages. I felt like I was really there as a third-party observer amongst the characters and I think that's want Tolstoy wants us to experience.

2. At this point, I'm not so sure about the integrity of Prince Vassily and Pierre yet, but Anna Mikhailovna is definitely being manipulative with Pierre so that her son Boris can get some inheritance from his godfather. She seems to care only for herself and her son and everything she has done so far is in self-interest. Prince Vassily may have gotten the bad name with this inheritance situation, but his motives do not seem all that selfish. After all, he seemed to also be trying to make sure Bezukhov's real daughters also receive their inheritance. Pierre seems quite oblivious so far with all the manipulation that's going on. I'd like to see how his character develops as the novel progresses.

A lot of the conversations center around the war and local gossip. Gossip spreads like wildfire and gossip will probably help further the plot. War is something that seems to be happening in the background because everyone talks about it and there are a lot of conjectures and opinions being expressed by various characters. A few of the young men are also going off to war and I wonder how they will fare.

What do you guys think about the romantic relationships that we've been introduced to so far? Prince Andrei and Princess Liza, Nikolai and Sonya, Boris and Natasha.


message 4: by Linda R, (new)

Linda R, What struck me is Pierre and Andrei's infatuation with Napoleon. How long will that last?


message 5: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Wendt My first thought is that this book is not what I expected. I'm not sure what it was that I thought War and Peace was about, but I wasn't expecting the first Book to almost entirely consist of aristocratic people talking to each other! I am enjoying it thus far though.


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian | 276 comments Mod
I started a bit late and I have only just finished Book 1... I hope to be caught up by week 5 or 6. I am also hooked on this book!

I found it a little confusing keeping track of how each character was related to each other. There sure seemed to be a lot of princes and princesses in tsarist Russia.


message 7: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (mich2689) | 219 comments My book came with a character list and I keep referring back to it as I read.


message 8: by Ian (new)

Ian | 276 comments Mod
Thanks Michelle, I found a character list in my copy as well. And it didn't have spoilers, which was nice.


message 9: by Marta (new)

Marta (gezemice) | 214 comments I am running late, too. I did finish Book 1 about a week ago, but it seemed so much of an introductory chapter that I was not sure what to think. I did not know what and who will be important later. After reading book 2, it seems a bit clearer although not much.

1. I like Tolstoy and he immediately put me at ease. He is so great at casual observations of human behaviors, especially in social gatherings. I think the first chapter sets the tone in many ways. First, that it will be a society book, where social rank is the most important. Second, the apparent self-interest and corruption and utter aimlessness of the Russian aristocracy is displayed. Third, the discussions of Bonaparte and the preparations for war introduce a philosophical angle on freedom and the opportunity for a commoner to achieve great things, which puts the aristocrats on the edge.

2. Prince Vassily is a self-centered a-hole. He does not care for his children, only cares the status he can achieve by helping their status. The conversations reveal that this is how most Russian aristocrats are. Quite a petty sight, although there are exceptions, like the older Bolkovsky.


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