Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Review: War and Peace Book 1, by Leo Tolstoy

I just finished this about ten minutes ago, so my impressions are rather unformed. I can, however, say this. It is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Really, I hear you cry, so a historic work of world literature is worth reading in your opinion? Stop the press.
I know, I know. Still - I was expecting something much more stodgy. This is Jane Austen for men, with extra testosterone and a full beard. And his characterisations! Every one a masterpiece, even if only a few lines are spoken, they seem to breathe all by themselves. And there are a lot of characters. At first I thought I was going to lose track of all the princesses and countesses, but each one is so finely drawn that they are unmistakable.
Perhaps things change over the course of the succeeding books, but here the main concern is people and their domestic lives, and how Tolstoy lays their inner lives bare - not by telling you what they are thinking - but by directing you to look at their body language and microscopic facial tics.
So: I look forward to part two.

Next: Haven't decided.


Stewart Wills said...

When I first read W&P, I was really surprised at how downright readable it was (don't remember the translation, unfortunately). Like you, I was expecting something a bit stiff, but instead I found that (with a few exceptions), it was something of a page turner (a good thing, given the number of pages . . .)

I think in this case, we'll let you count "Part I" as a full book for your 52-books-a-year project. ;->

ChrisHughes said...

Thanks for letting this one count! :)
(It says 'Book 1' right there on the contents page! That's gotta be a book, right?)

Rather tempting to just read the rest now, though, and not wait for the audiobook...

Still, started Anthem by Ayn Rand today.

Kara said...

Well! This is one I've never read because, well, you know... Gosh. War and Peace. But your description intrigues me!

ChrisHughes said...

The title is a real turn off, I know. But I thought the Jane Austen comparison would interest you! And it's true - the dry humour, the sharp insights, the preoccupation with inheritence, and relationships.
I think you'd love it.