10 Things You Need to Know about War and Peace
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10 Things You Need to Know aboutWar and Peace
Love comes into it
It understands, as James Buchan once wrote, that love is the circus hoop through which history is made to leap again and again.
Anyone who tells you that you can skip the “War” parts and only read the “Peace” parts is an idiot.
The bits that interest you personally and the bits that you find of only abstract curiosity are going to change when you read the book at 20, and again at 50.
It’s quite a long novel, but not absurdly long
You’ll read War and Peace in 10 days, maximum. Many people find the first 100 pages dauntingly full of characters, and only then does it seem to smooth out and become lucid.
To almost everyone’s amazement, by the time they reach the end of the First Epilogue, with its overwhelming sense of life continuing and proliferating, new possibilities of thought opening up
You are going to disagree with Tolstoy
No question. Not only that, you will almost certainly start to think that his own book disagrees with him.
The book has the worst opening sentence of any major novel
It also has the very worst closing sentence by a country mile, which you will have to read four times before deciding that its proposition is perfect nonsense.
The rhythm of life
You will like some characters more than others, and there will be long stretches where a character you used to like irritates or frustrates you.
Other characters will engage your sympathy over time; you may be deeply surprised, by the end, by who you want to spend most time with.
This is not a historical novel
But a novel that discusses events of the recent past within the memory of many of Tolstoy’s first readers.
The novel has a particular technical feature
It passes from mind to mind, showing us the world as a consciousness moves through it.
It is just how these events were seen by one particular observer, and another observer will take up the baton in a page or two.
There is no hero and no heroine
This is the story of a group of people living within a society. Andrey Bolkonsky is not Tolstoy’s hero, and Natasha is not a romantic heroine.
It forgives ideas of heroism
The characters in War and Peace endure extreme experiences, and emerge at the end as quite different people.