Finished with War & Peace

… but didn’t actually finish it.
It was Epilogue #2 that got me. The story was over and Tolstoy was raving repetitiously about the inability of historians to understand history — a subject he had already addressed more than adequately in the heart of the novel.
So with about 2 or 3 percent of that mighty tome to go, I skipped to the end to find this pointless ending: (Don’t worry it’s not a spoiler.)
 In the first case it was necessary to renounce
the consciousness of an unreal immobility in space
and to recognize a motion we did not feel; in the
present case it is similarly necessary to renounce
a freedom that does not exist, and to recognize a
dependence of which we are not conscious.
You can see why I threw in the towel.
What a pathetic way to wrap up such a grand and at times extraordinary book!
Epilogue #1 wasn’t so hot either. I wonder if he tacked these on later?
Anyway, in the end I have to put it in a category with Brave New World. It is a huge, astonishing and important book, but, as a novel read purely for story, not so great. Characters are forgotten, shunted, resurrected and, in the case of Rostov, lack any form of continuity.
Oh sure, there’s great story in there at places, but compare it to Anna Karenina and it seems cardboard thin.
I’m glad I read it, but I wish someone had excused me from even starting on Epilogue #2. If you’re thinking of reading it, I hereby excuse you from reading it. Finish the story and then put the book down before Tolstoy kills your enjoyment of it.
Next up: the unpublished mystery manuscript of a Nut I know.

2 Responses

  1. Well, now that you’ve ruined the ending for me, I’ll never read it. Boo hoo.

    This mystery manuscript sounds intriguing.

  2. I slogged through it when I was 18. I loved much of it, but those epilogues were so long-winded. I’d wanted more for Natasha, too.

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