War and Peace Book Club discussion

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The Purchase Of...

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message 1: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:11PM) (new)

brian   yeah, that story is great. and a nice antidote to the glut of articles blogs and people who can't stop talking/writing about how nobody reads, the novel is dead, etc... it might be true, but as long as your anecdote can be written... it's enough for me. in fact, there's a part of me that likes it better this way. as if we're walking around the world with our own little group, our own secret. kind of cultish, i guess, but true...

i just hit page 75.

of course this applies to most books written before the 20th century, but one thing that strikes me... tolstoy was writing for a captive audience. the novel was the prominant and primary form of entertainment in those days. this fact surely influenced his writing just as the writer nowadays knows he/she has serious competition in the stimuli/entertainment department.

moreover, cinema hadn't been invented - the medium in which people really learned how to economize narrative. taking it futher: it was before television, in which the narratve was invented mostly to hook viewers so they'd stick around for advertising. my point being: tolstoy takes his time. yes, indeed. at certain points it is refreshing: we're given the time to fall into a scene, feel our way around, become enveloped in conversation which feels lazy (read: natural), and to simply enjoy our surroundings. on the other hand: at other times it does make for a laborious read. there are things which surely feel superfluous. in an earlier thread, marshall wrote about enjoying prose which is 'lean and mean'; while i don't always agree, overly descriptive prose does work to drown out this particular reader. beyond unnecessary... it feels intrusive. (of course, i am full of contradictions: is there anything better than melville's crazyman up-and-down prose?) of course: as i explained earlier, i come at this from the perspective of one who has seen the jump from chekhov to hemingway to carver... there's no going back from there, is there? i suppose you can't unring a bell...

in mishima's Spring Snow a character speaks about how all the different thoughts and perspectives of an age disappear as time passes and that time is viewed as and with one monolithic prevailing big thought. future generations can easily look back and see 'the greatest generation', when in fact, at the time, it was much more troublesome and complex. it stands with art as well. the 'house style' of american cinema in the 70's was wildly different than it is today. i wonder what the prevailing prose style (or 'house style') of our time will be as seen by future reader/writers? or what the 'house style' of the future will be?


message 2: by Scoobs (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Scoobs | 7 comments Great story. And yes Tracy, the description is amazing right?

What is it about his description of the mustache that makes me believe that she is actually attractive?


message 3: by Caroline (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

Caroline (thebookdr) i am so glad the moustache is sparking conversation- this is one of two images that has not left my mind from the book when i read it as a teenager. both were relatively mundane moments in the book- asides about characters, but yet they stayed. in the old translation i don't think the word squirrel came into it. i believe she was described as having a short and "downy upper lip." i was amazed that this was a way of illuminating beauty. times change...

i have yet to dive in, but will do so today. am looking forward to it.


message 4: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:14PM) (new)

brian   characterization of pierre is masterful. he inherits all that money... i can only imagine what tolstoy's gonna do with him... well, about 1100 pages to find out.


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