Sunday, 5 September 2010

101 in 1001 - Item 3...

Read War and Peace (by Leo Tolstoy)

...has been completed!

It took me 19 days to read it.  Some days I read a couple of hundred pages but then others I only read a few pages.  I did read a bit of it every day. I kept saying "right, I'm going to finish it today" and then not managing it for almost the last week I was reading it.

 It's 1358 pages long not counting the many, many footnotes at the end, the character lists or the "On War and Peace" essay at the end by the translator (none of which I read).  And, if I'm being totally honest here I did only skim the second half of the epilogue.  The epilogue is divided into two books, the first deals with the characters and what happens next.  The second, which I skimmed is the author giving a critique of all existing forms of mainstream history.  It has no relevance to the plot.

On the whole I would say that War and Peace is a good book.  I did enjoy reading it, it's a pretty good story.  I don't plan to re-read it any time soon but you should never say never!  A lot of the characters are very believable and they grow up and change in ways which are very realistic to me (although this being set in a time period and country I know nothing about I can't speak for their realism from that point of view).  I did enjoy some bits more than others and once or twice I thought bits weren't relevant and perhaps and editor was needed.  Yes, that probably is sacrilege, I know.

A couple of other points.  The version I have is "the acclaimed new translation".  It made me wonder a bit how different it is to the original translation as there were several "fucks" etc in there.  And also with translated fiction in general because would a book written in 1869 have the Russian version of the word in?

The other point that occurred to me several times is the fact that this was written in the time when they were no computers.  And it seems that typewriters were around but were only just being invented really.  Meaning this huge epic book will have been written long hand.  Which is an astounding feat.  I'm struggling to edit and rewrite a 60K book with my computer, I certainly couldn't do it long hand, let alone something like War and Peace.

I'm very glad I've read this book, it's been interesting to read something different - and pretty educational.  I think I will read more by Tolstoy but not just yet.

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