War and Peace Book Club discussion


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message 1: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:07PM) (new)

brian   so... here's the first post of many.

instructions: buy the book on tuesday (isbn: 9780307266934), start reading, and start posting. knowing this crowd, some lively and heated discussion/argument/debate/insanity will develop.

any and all are welcome to join and comment: those who have already read it and those who haven't; those who are currently reading it with the group and those who aren't; those who plan to read it one day and even those with no such intention...

and for the los angelenos: at some point in november or december we will be meeting for an in person discussion. hope to see y'all there..

now get to it! from what i hear... this book is quite large and quite dense.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I love, love, love this book. It changed my life. Whatever that means.

message 3: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:07PM) (new)

Tosh I got the book this morning, and finished it by my second cup of coffee.

It's really good, but the "Peace" part is kind of slow.

message 4: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:07PM) (new)

brian   not sure if you've been following the thread, hanna, but the new translation comes out tomorrow. you might wanna re-read it with us. i'm gonna cut and paste what i wrote to kimley for you, and all who happen upon this site, to read:

on october 16th the translation by larissa volokhonsky and richard peavar comes out. they've translated all the major dostoyevsky novels and, most recently, anna karenina. as i can't speak russian i cannot, with all fairness, comment on their translation, but i've heard from many russian/english readers/critics that it's the best. to me, their dostoyevsky was more enjoyable than the older translations in that constance garnett (and others around that period) translated a while back and much of the language seems to reflect the times in which she (garnett) lived rather than when tolstoy did. as i understand, volokhonsky and peavar tried to more acccurately reflect tolstoy's original while also making the reading feel more contemporary, less victorian. (while, being careful not to toss in those annoying anachronous, contemporary references that some translators do... such as napolean calling someone a 'dickhead' or something like that.)

perhaps you can be persuaded to read it again? either way, definitely join in the discussion. be great to have a perspective from the Hannaverse.

message 5: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:07PM) (new)

brian   yes! our first tosh comment. genius. genius. genius.

the man simply does not disappoint.

message 6: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:07PM) (new)

Tosh Brian, do you sleep?

message 7: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

brian   sleep's a big time waster. four hours per twenty-four is a huge sacrifice but the pink machine requires it or it does very weird things.

i'm currently working on a pill that will make it so i never have to sleep. after that it's the pill that will make it so i never die.

message 8: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

Tosh I think Boris Vian was thinking of that... He never slept either. On the other hand maybe that's the true meaning of the title "War and Peace."

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't know if I could handle reading "War and Peace" twice in one year. That would be pretty crazy, but maybe I should. And only read thousand page novels from now on. Actually, I just had to put down "Underworld" because the first too many pages of baseball were too much to handle.

And actually, Tosh, I found the war parts to be marginally boring, but the peace, never.

message 10: by Caroline (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

Caroline (thebookdr) brian-

you forgot the "huh! good god y'all" in the middle of war, what is it good for on the title post.

if you're staying true to the best part of the lyrics.

i shall snatch the book up tomorrow with glee! save a copy for me...

message 11: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

brian   fyi: at amazon it is 34% off with no tax and free shipping. a much better deal than a bookstore. yep.

message 12: by Edan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

Edan | 1 comments Brian, I thought this thread was going to be linked to Book Soup's website. I can't believe you're pimping Amazon.
Long live human booksellers, and local bookstores!

message 13: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

Tosh Edan, Brian is a very expensive whore, one should know that by now. He disgusts me like dunking a donut in hot black coffee. I like it.

On the other hand I am kind of concerned about reading this book in the bathtub. I like to read in the bathtub and I know this book is over a thousand pages long - so it must be heavy!

... So I was wondering if any of the lovies in this club minds holding the book or me while I am reading it in the bathtub?

message 14: by Scoobs (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

Scoobs | 7 comments oh man
i cant even sleep
im so excited

message 15: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:09PM) (new)

brian   i am a whore. but tosh is right: an expensive whore.

i am also a capitalist. a die-hard money-loving capitalist. i find it hard to justify someone (particularly someone who makes little money) paying $30 for a book at a store rather than $18 online. i expect a full marxist breakdown and critique from dmitry on this one, and yeah, i know we're at risk of losing our humanity from lack of social interaction and loss of 'mom and pop' stores... but that's america baby. love it or leave it!


well, the book comes out today. so either shell out $41 and buy it at the store or get it from amazon for $23... either way, crack open that giant tomb and get to it.

i'm there with you scoobs -- my mouth is watering...

message 16: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:09PM) (new)

Tosh Brian, it's not an America issue, it's an issue that is pretty much part of everywhere on this planet. Economy rules the house, and it also gives us less choices than more. I also noticed that art & photo books are way more expensive this season than last year... I think the cost of paper, design, production is greater .... and the economic returns are getting less.

Thank god I am a Charles Shaw happily married drinking playboy without a care in the world....!

Does this tie in with the discussion on War and Peace? I find it fascinating that we are discussing issues around the book, what we heard about the book, and the cost of the book - instead of the actual contents of the book itself. I am not going to read it, but I will make comments on the subjects above.

message 17: by Charles (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:09PM) (new)

Charles | 2 comments The moment has finally arrived.
Gary just grumpily unpacked the book and it's fucking gorgeous.
Page 3 = brilliant.


message 18: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:09PM) (new)

brian   just got the book. the literary equivalent of viagra. seriously.

this book is so damn gorgeous and sexy i've yet to open it... just rubbing up against it.

on your mark...

get set...


message 19: by Scoobs (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:09PM) (new)

Scoobs | 7 comments I've almost made it through the introduction! I normally just skip right over to the good stuff. I figure if I'm going to do it up right, then why not read the damn intro.

Hakuna Matata Bitches.

message 20: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:10PM) (new)

Tosh Hey WTF! I open up the first page and it's in French. At least the first paragraph is! Hey like most of you I never went to a university. I learned some French from some girls around the corner, if you know what I mean!

And Cal, have you actually ever seen a photograph of workers at Amazon.com. I haven't. You know why because they're in China slaving away at slave prices, that's why! They forced these children to at least know the English alphabet so they can file these orders that go to Beverly Hills and Dallas and other cities like that.

The first part is the war part right? I am going to light a big cigar, get my toy soldiers and horses and get right into it.

message 21: by Scoobs (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:10PM) (new)

Scoobs | 7 comments That was amazing.

message 22: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:10PM) (new)

brian   i think fyodor is used to taking a back seat to leo.

i've always disagreed... perhaps at the end of this whole thing i'll have changed my mind.

message 23: by Erin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Erin (ledahlianoir) | 1 comments Is the new translation REALLY worth commiting myself to a re-read? If so, who will let me swipe their copy?

message 24: by Scoobs (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Scoobs | 7 comments Yeah, I agree. His character descriptions are pretty amazing. Every time a new character is introduced, the only way I can remember who they are is by picturing their descriptions.

message 25: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:15PM) (new)

brian   alright... my parents have been in town, i haven't read a word in two days. stuck on pg. 120.

anyone else? any progress?

love it?

hate it?

message 26: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:16PM) (new)

Tosh For those who want to read the difference between the two new translations that are out now:


message 27: by Kimley (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:16PM) (new)

Kimley Thanks for this article Tosh. Pretty interesting. And really amazing that two new translations have come out in one year.

Now I'm curious about the other one which it appears is significantly shorter and a translation of the first published version of the book. My inclination is to think that Tolstoy's further tinkering is worth reading. But sometimes, being too close to one's own work can lead to superfluous and unnecessary additions. I do think I will now have this in the back of my mind as I'm reading.

Anyone know about the rep of the other translator?

It's too bad this book - even the shorter version - is so damn long. It would be fun to do a comparison.

In the meantime, I'm still waiting for my copy of the book to arrive from Amazon. Hopefully I'll be able to start this week.

Anyone done yet? Scoobs, how d'ya do on your road trip?

message 28: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:16PM) (new)

Tosh Daniel Halpern, who is the editor at Ecco who put out the OTHER shorter translation is the same guy who wrote the essay on Boris Vian for the New Yorker. Which I am grateful because for sure it sold copies of my book - yet, he got a lot of stuff wrong in that article.

Hmm, so I will let you guys decide...

message 29: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:16PM) (new)

brian   http://readingroom.blogs.nytimes.com/

here's the nytimes version of our club. these people are waaaaay further along in the book... some interesting stuff to consider while you read it, though. check it out.

message 30: by Kimley (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:16PM) (new)

Kimley Yeah, the NY Times has been posting like mad but since I haven't started yet I've not been reading them. But it looks interesting and I plan to go back once I get into it.

I was actually a little annoyed (read jealous) that they started before the book even went on sale - flaunting their reviewer's copies before the eyes of us mere mortals who must wait for books to actually show up in stores.

message 31: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:17PM) (new)

brian   wow. i highly recommend everyone follow tracy's link (thanks for posting it tracy) -- i'm amazed at the difference in translation. amazing, really.

message 32: by Anne (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:18PM) (new)

Anne from all the articles I've seen, the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation has the edge, but the others seem fine--I read the Penguin Classics paperback translated by Rosemary Edmonds. (here's the Amazon link (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/cust...) for my book group some years back. Along with Middlemarch and The Brothers Karamazov, it was among the best books I've ever read--although I never finished it--even though it was fun, exhilarating, and engrossing. I was very caught up in the characters. The world was so vivid, whether you were in the countryside or on the battlefield.

It was never hard to read, and I looked forward to it. The book group meeting came and went, I had to read other things...I am always behind. I think I could pick it up and keep going, so I will try. (There is no book mark, so I'll figure out where I left off. It was in the 900s.) This group has been sent my way for a reason. Thanks Robert and Nancy.

message 33: by Kimley (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:18PM) (new)

Kimley After reading the two samples of the translations, it seems that the shorter one is more of a skeletal initial draft. I'm unclear, was this version actually published? If not, then why would anyone other than a Tolstoy scholar/fanatic really want to read an early draft?

All very interesting. I'm just excited about all the press. A friend of mine who knew I was reading this actually called me from her car when she heard this NPR show yesterday.

Who knew War & Peace would cause such controversy in our day. Awesome!

message 34: by Caroline (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:18PM) (new)

Caroline (thebookdr) yes, i must say that that comparison made me much happier to be attempting to submerge myself in this translation. i find it funny they(ecco) try to imply in the npr piece that we don't need "another" translation by this duo. i totally disagree. if they are making the works both accessible language-wise while keeping the spirit of the original language and prose i say they should keep on trucking indefinitely.

and given stories of it selling out like crazy, it seems that readers everywhere agree.

now, if i could just find a solid week and a half to do nothing but read it...

message 35: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:19PM) (new)

message 36: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:23PM) (new)

brian   i think i should've devised a scheme whereas we would have different threads for each hundred pages. as we all progress (we all still are reading it, aren't we?), how about we mention what page number(s) we're referring to at the to so as not to mess it up for those further behind...

this posting refers to the final section of Volume One - around page(s) 280-290...

holy shit. quite literally, actually. the (non)interaction in the medical unit between Prince Andrei and Napolean was pretty fucking terrific. anyone up there yet? care to comment on this or anything else?

message 37: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:24PM) (new)

brian   okay. i'm on pg. 375 and only over the last 50 pages have i ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY FALLEN IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK.

yeah, it's amazing.

and, tracy and cameron, i've been informed that count leo was influenced by much british literature of the 17th and 18th century in which it was commonplace for the narrator to show his presence and intrude with an 'us' or some other such indicator...

there's much to write about - i'm losing my mind with pierre's encounter with the masons at the moment... but i don't wanna drop any spoilers. anyone else have any thoughts on anything up to pg 200?

message 38: by Cameron (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:27PM) (new)

Cameron Moss | 3 comments There is much to write about-- what great characters we have! Of course, no two are alike. We finally see more of the Rostov family in the second volume-- much more interesting than the Bolkonskys. I kept on expecting a more detailed portrait of the older count B like we get from Stern of the father in Tristram Shandy (which was cited in the notes for influence to W&P). But with the Rostovs there is so much youth, naivete, potential for broken hearts and-- adding to drama-- Tolstoy brilliantly casts upon them financial woes.

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