War and Peace

Discussion on any 19th century written works by authors other than Hugo.
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deHavilland
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War and Peace

Postby deHavilland » Sun Jan 17, 2016 5:59 pm

In light of the new BBC adaptation -- that I am simultaneously loving and hating -- has anyone else read, considered reading or watched Tolstoy's epic? I've been coaching Acaila through the who's who of the mini-series and am fully proud to say it's one of my favorite reads, even if that does illicit groans from essentially everyone who asks the "what's your favorite book?" question.

Listing Les Mis and War and Peace is apparently a stretch for some.
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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Chantefleurie
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Re: War and Peace

Postby Chantefleurie » Sun Jan 17, 2016 10:29 pm

I'm currently in the middle of War and Peace. Just finished the first volume. In comparison to Hugo, I find Tolstoy to be more grounded, less melodramatic, but at the same time less prone to ramble for chapters on end about his own personal views. Everything is evaluated through the points of view of different characters rather than through side-note chapters.

People kept telling me not to read War and peace because it's a drag. They've been telling the same thing about Les Mis, but I loved that well enough, and I know both authors by other books to trust that the payoff at the end is worth some slow pace in the beginning. So I decided to read War and Peace, and I discovered that there are actually remarkably few draggy instances (actually, just two that I can think of: when Pierre delves into spiritualism, and during the hunt).

Reading both books in wonderful. You get the French and the Russian perspective on Napoleon. :D
C'est tellement mystérieux, le pays des larmes. ~Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Re: War and Peace

Postby deHavilland » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:17 am

I actually find this to be a consistent mark of contrast between French and Russian literature -- but I haven't yet figured out if it has to do with the Russian being poorly translated into English or not. Russian writers seem to give you the same amount of world-building and the same (if not more) time spent on character development, but do it in half the amount of prose it takes French authors to do it in. And I'm not just talking about Hugo, Balzac and Zola are just as guilty of it, for example.

War and Peace is the opposite of a drag, the narrative moves so quickly you have to really be paying attention to keep track of who is who and what's what -- but Les Mis, yeah, it moves a lot more slowly, lol.

Pierre and Marius: both Napoleon-stans.
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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Re: War and Peace

Postby Chantefleurie » Tue Jan 19, 2016 5:25 am

deHavilland wrote:I actually find this to be a consistent mark of contrast between French and Russian literature -- but I haven't yet figured out if it has to do with the Russian being poorly translated into English or not. Russian writers seem to give you the same amount of world-building and the same (if not more) time spent on character development, but do it in half the amount of prose it takes French authors to do it in. And I'm not just talking about Hugo, Balzac and Zola are just as guilty of it, for example.


Can't comment on other French writers, but it seems to me that the main difference between Hugo and Tolstoy is that Tolstoy does exposition while he goes. It happens with the plot. It's told through the characters. So you're learning about the world at the same time as things are happening to characters. On the other hand, every time Hugo wants to explain a bit of the setting, or introduce a new character, or make a historical or political note, he pauses whatever plot is happening to introduce you to the concept. I feel like some things could be integrated more. For instance, much as I love the chapter describing Les Amis now, the first time I read it was a torture. I'm just thrown a bunch of names with brief descriptions in the face. Why can't i find out about these characters as they are doing something? That way it would seem less like an attendance list and more like a continuous story. Perhaps that sort of thing is the reason only people who persevere till the end of the book actually like it. :wink:

I read all Russian-written books in Russian, and I wouldn't say it's a property of the translation. I think it's more a matter of style.

deHavilland wrote:War and Peace is the opposite of a drag, the narrative moves so quickly you have to really be paying attention to keep track of who is who and what's what -- but Les Mis, yeah, it moves a lot more slowly, lol.


I feel like both works have their bursts of excitement and their calm moments. It's just that in Les Mis they are more pronounced. Like, nothing happens for several chapters, and then all of a sudden you can't put the book down for several more chapters until you reach the next calm. But the calm in War and Peace still moves quicker than the calm in Les Mis.

deHavilland wrote:Pierre and Marius: both Napoleon-stans.


Heh! But my favourite "authority" on Napoleon is Andrey Bolkonskiy. I simply loved it when they met face to face. I just like Andrey Bolkonskiy in general. If I had to pick one single person to root for (which is hard to do because part of the book is to show how all perspectives are valid and none is necessarily better or more right), it would be him. But I don't like Pierre much. Dunno what will happen to him by the end yet, so I still have hope that he'll actually do something right of his own initiative. :D

One thing that I found really weird in War and Peace that somehow never was an issue in Les Mis is fashion and taste. Sometimes, Tolstoy would describe a person, and it my mind it would paint a fairly unhandsome picture, but he would conclude that the person is beautiful indeed. I know that tastes change and everything, but I just find it hard to relate to some of the descriptions, and constantly have to remind myself that things were different back then. I'm surprised this never occurred in Les Mis - but then again, most people who matter are too starved to be anything but skinny and too poor to have any clothing that would seem ridiculous. That's another point of difference: War and peace is more about the lives of aristocracy (though with very specific ideas regarding the lower classes), while Les Mis blends the social spheres.
C'est tellement mystérieux, le pays des larmes. ~Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Re: War and Peace

Postby deHavilland » Tue Jan 19, 2016 5:38 am

Chantefleurie wrote:Sometimes, Tolstoy would describe a person, and it my mind it would paint a fairly unhandsome picture, but he would conclude that the person is beautiful indeed. I know that tastes change and everything, but I just find it hard to relate to some of the descriptions, and constantly have to remind myself that things were different back then.


Ah, you mean that when "short, downy, smiling lips" start to rise, they don't do it for you? ;) "She was beautiful and she had a moustache, but she was beautiful and the moustache made it so!"

I like Andrei well enough, but I'm in it for Pierre. I don't know if you've watched any of this new BBC adaptation, but he's played by Paul Danno and while the acting is wonderful, I can't get over the fact that Paul Danno's precious infant face is completely killing everything about Pierre for me. It's definitely more fun when he looks like Henry Fonda but then reveals himself to be somewhat incompetent and totally out of touch with everything around him. When he looks like the kind of kid that Dolokhov and Anatole would be shoving into a locker in the high school AU/fusion piece of the future instead of hanging out with, it just spoils the character.

How far into the book are you at this point?
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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Chantefleurie
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Re: War and Peace

Postby Chantefleurie » Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:27 pm

deHavilland wrote:
Chantefleurie wrote:Sometimes, Tolstoy would describe a person, and it my mind it would paint a fairly unhandsome picture, but he would conclude that the person is beautiful indeed. I know that tastes change and everything, but I just find it hard to relate to some of the descriptions, and constantly have to remind myself that things were different back then.


Ah, you mean that when "short, downy, smiling lips" start to rise, they don't do it for you? ;) "She was beautiful and she had a moustache, but she was beautiful and the moustache made it so!"


"He/she had beautiful hands. They had short, puffy, fat fingers that lay completely limp on the table." Really gives you a feeling of that person's charisma and steel will.

deHavilland wrote:I like Andrei well enough, but I'm in it for Pierre. I don't know if you've watched any of this new BBC adaptation, but he's played by Paul Danno and while the acting is wonderful, I can't get over the fact that Paul Danno's precious infant face is completely killing everything about Pierre for me. It's definitely more fun when he looks like Henry Fonda but then reveals himself to be somewhat incompetent and totally out of touch with everything around him. When he looks like the kind of kid that Dolokhov and Anatole would be shoving into a locker in the high school AU/fusion piece of the future instead of hanging out with, it just spoils the character.


For me, Pierre always had a baby face. He's a giant teddy bear.

deHavilland wrote:How far into the book are you at this point?


Napoleon attacked. The Russian emissary has been to see him. (Napoleon can't decide if he's doing deification or anthropomorphism. :roll:)

I'm excited for more War. Peace was good, but I really liked the previous war part.
C'est tellement mystérieux, le pays des larmes. ~Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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CC21106
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Re: War and Peace

Postby CC21106 » Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:26 pm

Reading W&P to counteract obsessing with LM, but it's not working.
Don't mess with Texas! We mess up enough by ourselves.
I have actually made bullets like they're doing in my avatar. Then loaded the gun with a ramrod, and shot it. But I'm not feeling real good about guns right now.


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