Operation Classic: War and Peace – the Diary

Contains SPOILERS, some of them major, so beware!

(Well, not that major, but with this book little surprises help you along.)

July 15th 2012

Day one of diary, day five of reading. Only yesterday did I think of writing about this experience.

I’m reading a translated version (hence I write names as they are written in Finnish). It’s been split into four volumes, each 400-500 pages long, and I’m about a 100 pages into the second volume. So far it’s going nice, although the heavy battle descriptions can get tiring – my capacity can’t take all the detailed info of the location of French, Russian and Austrian troops. Seriously. And the guys on the front aren’t being very smart. Nikolai Rostov is annoying me horribly. I do, however, like Andrei Bolkonski and Boris. The women somewhat annoy me, although Anna Mihailovna is not as bad as the rest. And I resent the notion that it would seem characters named Vera tend to be somewhat prudish and mean.

One of my favourite things so far is the character Dolohov, because it’s fun to try and see how much of this character Rowling used in the Death Eater Dolohov. As there is so little known of the Potter Dolohov, I’m tempted to think of him as very similar to Tolstoy’s Dolohov.

I’m also very disappointed that Natasha didn’t accept Denisov’s proposal. I like Denisov. He’s a nice man, though admittedly a little old for Natasha.

 

July 16th 2012

I spoiled myself. I needed to check on some character names and family connections, and Wikipedia provided a list – but it was way too detailed. So now I know some upcoming pairings and reading about the characters isn’t all objective anymore. Sad face.

A thing I realised this morning while I read a couple of chapters before going to work – I like this book, damn it. Quite unexpected. These bigger classics seem to do this with me. The Finnish ones are even more unexpected than the other ones. I loved Väinö Linna’s The Unknown Soldier, and now I’m pretty certain that when I eventually get to Mika Waltari’s The Egyptian I’m going to love it.

 

July 17th 2012

Yesterday, I was talking to Kay about the book. I told her about the tragedy that is Prince Andrei’s life, and when I mentioned his wife died right after the birth of their child, she immediately asked, “Was it at least a boy?”

That hadn’t even occurred to me, although of course it should have. In historical fiction, and in factual history of course, begetting a male heir is vital. However, Tolstoy doesn’t really put any emphasis on that. None whatsoever. The only inheritance discussion is about Count Bezuhov, who has no legitimate children, only bastards. I’m not familiar with the Russian laws on this, and apparently I should do some research. Interesting issue. Thanks for pointing it out to me, Kay!

 

July 18th 2012

Just started the third volume. The second one was awesome, particularly towards the end, when the relationships started to get really tangled – and now I’m excited to see if anything more happens between Andrei and Natasha! Maria’s situation is interesting, too, and I keep hoping the French doctor whose name I can’t for the life of me remember would propose to her. Very little has been said about the doc, but I have a feeling he and Maria would suit each other. What I don’t want her to do is to leave her family and become a religious hermit or whatever they should be called.

I also made an observation while finishing the volume. The characters are just marvellous. I notice I had an opinion on everyone at the beginning, and now I think of them completely differently. Andrei annoyed the hell out of me – now I kinda like him. Natasha seemed like a vivacious, fun girl – now she bugs me SO much. (She’s seventeen at the moment, so yeah, I understand what goes on in her head and why she does the things she does, but understanding doesn’t mean liking!) What I think this shows is great crafting by Tolstoy. It’s not often that the characters really change and you sometimes love them and sometimes hate them. Beautifully done, sir!

Anatol is a sleaze. Just so you know. Ugh. I like Dolohov better. Not that he’s a good guy either.

 

July 19th 2012

Today I’ve gotten very little read though – I’m getting ready to leave for Finncon tomorrow and there’s been stuff that has needed to be done.

But that’s not relevant right now. What is relevant is that the beginning of this third volume is boring me. It’s year 1812, and Napoleon is declaring war on Russia. It’s been mostly upset royalty and officers and names and none of the actual main characters, except for Boris, and him very briefly. It’s hard to be interested, but it’ll get better again. Hopefully. I’m a little disappointed now, because the end of the second volume was so awesome. (Natasha and Andrei! What’s going to happen? Kick out the Frenchies so we can get back to them!)

 

July 24th 2012

Oh what a bit it was today! So much excitement! Anatol, Andrei, and the talk about Nikolas and Maria… Oh my. So awesome. It was a slow day at work, so I read about a hundred pages, barely containing my squees and trying not to grin like an idiot at customers. Awesome drama. Absolutely bloody marvellous.

 

July 25th 2012

Busy day at work. Hmph. Managed a couple of dozen pages, though. Finished volume three and moved on to volume four – didn’t finish the first mark on that one though. Way too tired. Ippolit made an appearance, though! I thought Tolstoy had abandoned him for good!

 

July 30th 2012

Finished! Gods, I can’t believe it! The end was so BORING! The epilogue was 150 pages, and in two parts. The first part was fun, the second one not so much – it was just Tolstoy pondering on how history should be interpreted and what can we really know and free will and leaders and power. So absolutely yawn-inducing. I’m sort of upset that we never saw Boris or Dolohov again, and that Ippolit wasn’t really there at all. But you can’t have everything, I suppose. I would have wanted Dolohov though. And Denisov and Sonja would have made a nice couple!

So there they all are. I am now glad to get back to books in English. This has been such a long stint of reading in Finnish that it almost frightens me.

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