War and Peace Book Club discussion

Volume 1

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message 1: by Kimley (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:51PM) (new)

Kimley So, I'm a bit behind most of you, only just having finished volume 1. I don't know about the rest of you but for me, my head is swimming. This volume seemed to be all about chaos. So many people. So many ideas. So much action. I'm feeling fairly overwhelmed, excited, panicked. I don't know who's coming or going or who's dead or alive! But I'm really enjoying the mix of all the characters - the naive, eager Rostov, the detached Bolkonsky, befuddled Pierre who I'm sensing is not going to find happiness despite his good fortune... I'm looking forward to seeing how Tolstoy is going to bring this big messy world to some kind of cohesive point. He does, right Brian??? Of course, he's still got 900 pages to do so!

message 2: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:54PM) (new)

brian   ugh! you're killing me, kimley! so much i want to write in response... but i'd kill too much of the surprise. so... as mr. zimmerman says, keep on keeping on... you will not be disappointed.

message 3: by Kimley (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:54PM) (new)

Kimley Well the weight of this book is killing me - quite literally. I just schlepped it on a 6 hour bus trip up to Cape Cod and it better provide me with the some frickin' amazing writing after that!

Actually, I'm already into Volume 2 a bit and it's getting very interesting. Tolstoy added a lot of ingredients in that first volume and now I see that it's all stewing quite nicely.

I'm reading as fast as I can! But tomorrow I will eat some turkey.

message 4: by blisster (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:55PM) (new)

blisster i finally grabbed a copy, so i am very far behind everybody! i've just read page one and i want to stop my life and sit in bed and just tear through this...

bravo, to you kimley, this is one mothereffing heavy book! i started dividing the page count by number of pages i normally read in a week, this will take me a while...

message 5: by Kimley (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:55PM) (new)

Kimley Welcome to the ride Blisster! I suspect most of us are probably plugging along pretty slowly - unlike Brian, most of us actually need sleep! ;->

message 6: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:55PM) (new)

brian   approaching this book -- perhaps because of its size and stature and reputation and, i think, a fair amount of the stupid belief that we in the present are infinitely times more sophisticated than those in the past -- i expected a work that would show and describe the horrors of war, of course, but also the nobility and honor and sacrifice and heroism found in much fiction and non-fiction written on war. nope.

the 'chaos' that you speak of kimley, is all part of tolstoy's very specific and uncomprimising plan... there is not a single scene of individual heroism or order or nobility. at least not in the sense in which we are used to seeing in traditional 'war' fiction. there is not a single 'good' death. not a single war scene that falls within the realm of accessible narrative... in fact, the most memorable scenes of war depicted in the book are strange and interior and filled with cowardice and disgust rather than honor or 'cool! that guy just got his head blown off' disgused as 'war is hell'...

in the latter half of the novel, tolstoy writes much on fate vs. luck and, as i have pointed out before, the 'man on a horse' theory (history proceding due to certain remarkable individuals) vs. history 'happening' as a result of certain unexplained scientific principles of history itself. see which side tolstoy falls on and which side you, the reader, fall on...

so... enjoy the chaos and confusion and watch as it artfully and masterfully works itself out... the book just keeps getting better.

message 7: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:55PM) (new)

brian   and to put the rumors to rest tosh and kimley and tracy... yeah, i've been hitting the local hospitals, sucking down the blood reserves but it just doesn't get me high the way it used to... i have to move back to drinking directly from the source.

is it more or less moral to murder in order to read books than to do so in order to stay alive?

message 8: by Kimley (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

Kimley Yeah Brian, I certainly didn't mean that I thought the chaos was a negative. I actually really like that Tolstoy gave me a bit of an uneasy feeling. I definitely felt the chaos was very intentional on Tolstoy's part and actually did appreciate what he was getting at with it. Life is messy. War is messy. None of us (well at least not me - I don't know if anyone here has served in the military...) have any idea how we'd actually behave in those circumstances.

I felt like Tolstoy is giving us this book called "War & Peace" and what a big slice of life that obligates him to show! So it is just natural that chaos would reign otherwise it would end up being disingenuous.

Tracy, I agree, so far Volume II does seem to be going faster. I think, for me anyway, part of that is that I'm finally getting a better grip on the bazillions of characters. And the action is a bit less chaotic so far. He's focusing more on certain story lines that he introduced in Volume I.

Brian, I think your question of morals is a good opening line to become buddies with your hero Morrissey!

message 9: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

brian   "there's more to life than books you know... but not much more."

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