Books · Read-Along

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along: Check-In #2

rush hour2
WAR!  What is it good for?

Well, in the context of the novel, it remains to be seen.  This section was easier to grasp than I had anticipated.  I think it’s Pevear and Volokhonsky’s translation (one day I’ll be able to spell Volokhonsky without looking it up), but I haven’t read any others to confirm.  You can find links to the original post from Reading in Bed and my first post a the bottom of this one.

So poor Dolokhov has been demoted because of the whole aforementioned drunken bear shenanigans.  His new uniform is a different color and whatever.  I’m not particularly concerned.  This wouldn’t have been a problem if you hadn’t been so stupid.  And just calm down, could you, Dolokhov?

Your hair game is still strong, though.

Do you know what I really love?  I can be a bit of a history nerd, so when I found out that Tolstoy used an actual letter from Napoleon, in which Napoleon basically called Murat (the French commander dude) an idiot for thinking that the Austrians/Russians had actually surrendered when they hadn’t even spoken to the emperor, I was thrilled.  And well, you know, he wasn’t wrong.

To Prince Murat. Schönbrunn, 25 Brumaire [15 November], 1805, at eight o’clock a.m.  It is impossible for me to find words to express to you my displeasure.  You command only my vanguard and you do not have the right to make an armistice without my order.  You are making me lose the fruits of a campaign.  Break the armistice on the spot and march to the enemy.  Declare to him that the general who signed this capitulation did not have the right to make it, that only the Emperor of Russia has that right.  Any time, however, that the Emperor of Russia will ratify the said convention, I will ratify it; but it is only a trick.  March, destroy the Russian army…you are in a position to take their baggage and artillery.  The adjutant of the Emperor of Russia is a…Officers are nothing when they have no power: this one has none…The Austrians let themselves be fooled in the crossing of the bridge of Vienna, you are letting yourself be fooled by one of the Emperor’s adjutants.  Napoleon.

Stay classy.

le swash and buckle
It is time for le swash and buckle.

Even though he hasn’t actually done that much, Andrei’s all like, “Well, I have been wounded [read: scratched], so I obviously need to be rewarded.”  His horse was shot, and a bullet grazed Andrei’s arm. Really, the horse should get a medal, but anyway Andrei gets all gussed up to go to town to get recognized for his valor…and no one really cares.  He expected to see the emperor, but instead he’s taken to the minister of war, who hasn’t actually seen any combat.  Seems legit.  Anyway, he’s like, “Well done, boy.  But we have bigger fish to fry, and you are a small fish.  And, really, you could have done better.  So…bye.”  Andrei’s all let out, but then he does get to display a little authority when he gets back, sees the army in chaos, yells at some folks, and helps a woman stuck in a wagon, so good for you, Andrei!

mean girls 2

But then, we have poor little Nikolai.  He’s in way over his head.  It’s like he’s 6 feet tall and just walked into the 8-foot end of the pool and doesn’t know how to swim.  And really, he’s just a baby.  He’s still a minor, and he’s really scared.  Nobody really cares about that, though, because everyone else has been through it already.  So at the end of the last chapter in Part 2, he’s lying in bed, (not too terribly) wounded and disillusioned with it all.

“Nobody needs me!” thought Rostov.  “There’s nobody to help me or pity me.  And once I was at home, strong, cheerful, loved.”  He sighed and involuntarily groaned as he sighed.

“Ouch, it hurts, eh?” the little soldier asked, waving his shirt over the fire and, not waiting for a reply, he grunted and said: “Quite a few folk got damaged today–awful!”

Rostov was not listening to the soldier.  He looked at the snowflakes dancing above the fire and remembered the Russian winter with a warm, bright house, a fluffy fur coat, swift sleighs, a healthy body, and all the love and care of a family.  “And why did I come here?” he wondered. (200)


I think he just needs a nice, warm hug.

Reading in Bed: Master Post and Volume 1 Part 2 Post

Little Book Jockey: Check-In #1

Books · Read-Along

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along: Check-In #1

In the spring semester of my junior year in college, I took a Victorian British Novels class.  On the first day of class my professor said that anyone who stayed after the first week had to be a masochist because those six novels were, um…long, you could say.  We read Bleak HouseVillette, MiddlemarchJude the ObscureNorth and South, and Howards End.  On average we read 250 pages per class, and we met on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Well, obviously I stayed, so it seems I must be a masochist.

Looks like I’m in for a repeat.

Same, Pierre.  Same.

I’m participating in Laura’s War and Peace Newbies Read-Along, which you can find out about over at Reading in Bed.  Anyone with the will to participate is welcome to join, whether you’ve read it before or not.  It has already started and technically runs from July through September, but you’re welcome to start late if you’re willing to catch up!  We’re reading about 125 pages a week, which is doable as long as you don’t get behind.

I’m reading the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace.  I’m reading it on my Kindle because (1) it’s really long, coming in at 1275 pages, and not conducive to lugging around; (2) I need to check the footnotes and endnotes a lot; and (3) I know I’m going to have to look up a lot of words.  I also own this gorgeous copy in paperback, but that’s just going to sit prettily on my shelf.

After making it through the first few chapters, I got used to checking the footnotes for the translations of the French passages–and let me tell you, there are a lot of those.  I never regretted not taking French classes before this moment.

So far, there’s mostly talk about war, how terrible (or, in Pierre’s case, how great) Napoleon is, and the ever-present class struggles.  I don’t really want to give away any spoilers just yet, in case anyone decides to join in.  But, up to this point in the novel, all of the dashing (and not so dashing) young men are preparing to go off to war, some illicit love affairs are beginning, there are some drunken shenanigans, Natasha hollers out at the dinner table (the hoyden!), someone dies, and Pierre is no longer as illegitimate as he was at the beginning of the book.  Among other things.

I’ll be reading from Mondays to Sundays and then posting my thoughts and whatnot on the following Monday.  For example, I read Volume I, Part I from July 3-9 and I’m posting this on July 10.  This is the same posting schedule that Laura is using, and I figured it would be easiest to follow hers.  It comes out to about 17 pages a day, which is totally doable–as long as I don’t get behind.

Check out Laura’s corresponding post, which is much more detailed and humorous than mine, to get an idea of what the fuss is all about!

Andrei and Pierre, having a good ol’ swig o’ the spirits, which you might need before heading into this novel