Reading Challenges

January 15, 2011

Tolstoy's War And Peace - Checking In:

As some of you may have seen, I'm participating in a War and Peace read-along that consists of reading a chapter a day for an entire year (conveniently there are, you guessed it, 365 chapters). Since the novel (well, Tolstoy didn't want us calling it a novel, but for lack of a better word, that's how I'll refer to it) is divided into several books and is quite lengthy, I thought I'd post a few comments from time to time in order to keep track of my impressions. 

Having just completed chapter 15, I can safely say I'm engrossed. I particularly appreciate the way Tolstoy crafts his drawn-out exposition: we are introduced to a variety of characters and their families via a soirée hosted by Anna Pavlovna of St. Petersburg, and we become so involved with the entrances and the exits of the characters that we feel as if we are in attendance as well, observing both the physical attributes and social behaviors of each guest. Tolstoy's rich descriptions provide strong images with which we can match each character's temperament:

The young princess Bolkanskaya had brought some work in a gold-embroidered velvet bag. Her pretty little upper lip, on which a delicate dark down was just perceptible, was too short for her teeth, but it lifted all the more sweetly, and was especially charming when she drew it down to meet the lower lip. - Chapter 2, page 7. 

At this point in the book, we're still establishing the inner-workings of upper-class society and how the families and their acquaintances relate to one another. Fellow War and Peace readers, how are you getting on?

1 comment:

  1. So far, so good! I'm really enjoying Tolstoy's characterizations and observational skill. He's managed to distinguish between so many characters already that I am thoroughly impressed. I also kind of like having so many story lines, as it's fun to see them connect here and there (like when Pierre comes to Moscow and everyone is gossiping about the bear incident...I enjoyed having "been there" at the beginning of the night on which it occurred!).


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