Tag Archives: War and Peace

Reading War & Peace #12.5: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude, WORDSWORTH EDITION (for page # references)

“Many people start to read War and Peace for the same reason as others climb Mount Everest: because it’s there.” – Johanna Trew

Two and a half years ago I started my way up the mountain. After four months I set up camp and sat down, refusing to get down but not trying to continue. Three months ago I quickly packed up my stuff, jogged my way back to base camp and then started my way back up. Two and a half months after that I finally settled down on the tip, slightly confused because of a certain second epilogue, but with a smile on my face and an immense feeling of pride. The kind that lasts for like a week straight, unwavering, painting the world a very attractive shade of pink. It was fabulous.

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Reading War & Peace #12: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude, WORDSWORTH EDITION (for page # references)

It’s a wrap, folks. I finished the book on Friday, and then it took me a couple of days to get over the shock. I’d technically been reading this book since 2015 because I’d never really admitted to myself that I had quit, so for the past two years I’ve had it shaming me through my “currently reading” Goodreads list. And now it’s over.

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Reading War & Peace #11: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude, WORDSWORTH EDITION (for page # references)

Two weeks ago I teased an Andrew tribute post and he died, so I refocused my energy on Kutuzov. And… now he’s dead. Leo? Are you there? Got yourself a little WordPress? Also, what’s with the Game of Thrones business going on? Prince Bolkonski x2, Helene, Kutuzov, Petya. I mean, there really were a bit too many characters, but is this the best way to go about solving that problem? Can people still die in an epilogue?

And yes, if you had a double-take at that last sentence – you read correctly! WE’RE DONE-ish. I read fifty pages today, which might not sound like much, but with this book and my level of laziness, it’s a record-shattering achievement. Now we only have the two epilogues left, which I recently read a very angry Goodreads review about, basically recommending to just slice off that bit and burn it, so that should be interesting.

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Reading War & Peace #10: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude, WORDSWORTH EDITION (for page # references)

I’m starting to think last week’s desire for a tribute post was not my best idea, because now Andrew is actually dead. Didn’t really mean for that to happen. I was actually rocking my invisible #Team Sonya shirt this week, the #team that promotes not dying so that you can marry your past lover and prevent her brother from marrying your sister. Or, in other words, Nicholas Rostov, five weeks ago you said “suppose I loved a girl who has no fortune, would you expect me to sacrifice my feelings and my honour for the sake of money?” [pg. 407] and now you’re all “Mary this, Mary that” and that was not the plan, young man.

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Reading War & Peace #9: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude, WORDSWORTH EDITION (for page # references)

I thought Prince Andrew Bolkonski was dead, but then it turns out he’s still alive. So much for the tribute post. Prince Nikolas Bolkonski is actually dead, but he doesn’t really deserve a tribute post so that’s no use either. If this were a different book, written in different times, maybe we would’ve gotten a special episode following Mary as she discovers herself and becomes an independent women who doesn’t need no man now, that her abusive father is dead, but it’s 1812 Russia and Moscow is burning so no has time for that.

In 2011, during Hurricane Irene, I was in New York. I got to experience something unheard of – empty Manhattan. It was unbelievable. Deserted. Silent. This past week, that memory took on a new form, with some fire and some French.

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Reading War & Peace #8: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude (for page # references)

War is a big thing where I live. It happens way too often (2014, 2012, 2008, 2006, to name a few) and involves way too many people we all personally know (since Israel has mandatory conscription: three years for men, two for women). The obsession with the Holocaust, and its occurrence being the main reason for founding a Jewish state, has formed a violent, angry, and quite terrified society, that lashes out at everyone and anything without distinction, room for constructive criticism or rational thought. The religious concept of “the chosen people” has not helped much either.

There’s a big agreement here that every war that takes place is necessary, framed by a phrase that would roughly translate into “no choice war”. It’s never a choice. It’s never our fault. I had a friend who once said to me, “the problem is that between one ‘no choice war’ and another, there’s never any attempt to prevent the next one.” Hopefully, one day, that will change. Hopefully, one day, people will realize that in the end everyone just wants to live their life, and that dying is not the only way to achieve that.

I will never know what Tolstoy thinks of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but this week, in between tales of the rich and the famous, and philosophical musings on individuality and human will, someone finally stopped to consider for a moment what this is all for.

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Reading War & Peace #7: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude (for page # references)

As Bon Jovi once said “OHHHHHHHH WE’RE HALF WAY THERE OH-OHH”. I admit I wasn’t around when Jon said it, but I have this feeling deep inside somewhere that he was talking about hitting page 541. Just a hunch.

“Better stand tall when they’re calling you out”, Emperor Alexander wrote, with slight rephrasing of my own, in his message to the Russian people. “Don’t bend, don’t break, baby, don’t back down”, they all shouted back. It’s 1812. Time for war. Except this time everyone seems to have switched places.

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Reading War & Peace #6: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

This week I read eighteen pages. Eighteen. Slightly less than my 140-page-per-week plan. I had a tough week in terms of my general mood. Spending six weeks at home seems fun at first, but eventually it gets old. Old and tiring. Old and tiring is not a good mood for some intensive reading.

So I’ve hit reader’s block and I have nothing to discuss. Instead, I spent the day wondering how I get out of it. I’ve made it this far, and so some self reflection seems like a worthy investment.

  1. Don’t give up. It takes me twenty minutes to walk half a kilometer on crutches. My dad always takes the wheelchair with us just in case. In my high school gym “finals” we had to run two kilometers. Not a complicated task for people who run. Needless to say, I don’t. I set myself one rule. Don’t stop running. Even if you find yourself running at a pace that’s slightly slower than walking, run. And I did. So I walk alongside him as he wheels the empty chair home. Eighteen pages is less than one hundred and forty, but it is definitely more than zero.
  2. Change your goals. I can’t walk one hundred meters without stopping. I actually need to rest about once every fifty meters. Otherwise my palms burn, and then I’m stuck, because my hands have turned into another leg for the time being. One hundred pages a week is just as good. So it’ll take longer to get to the finish line. Who cares? It’s not a race. It’s just me. The gold medal will be waiting for me when I get there.
  3. Find new ways. At first I had a cast on my left arm. I’m left handed. A person can’t just not shower for a week. So I did. Somehow. Maybe reading this type of thing doesn’t work for me past sunset. Maybe I should try hanging out with the Rostovs and the Bolkonskis at lunch instead.
  4. Forgive yourself. Who knew you could break a bone just accidently slipping? And now you can’t play soccer for months. Your greatest skill is pointing your toes, flexing them, and then back again. Don’t look for the goal, the goalie, the net. Focus on the next move. Not every week is going to be a fancy analysis or a pat on the back. Go back to the small things. The joy of reading. The story.
  5. Just relax. That goes for everything. Just a generally good rule.

Maybe I’ll start a workout blog once all of this is over.

Hadas.

Just kidding.


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Reading War & Peace #5: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude (for page # references)

So this week, instead of war and peace between countries, we had some war and peace between hearts. Lots of proposals, engagements, disapproving parents. In a world with issues of class, hierarchy, and not much gender equality love can become a very unpleasant game. But let’s start at the beginning.

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Reading War & Peace #4: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude (for page # references)

Well, hello everyone. We’ve officially finished Volume One. Good job folks. Only two more to go!

We’ve tackled tips, we’ve discussed philosphy, and now it’s time for the little humans roaming around Europe. When thinking of War & Peace one tends to imagine thousands of pages describing terrible battles, people in medieval style clothing (because anything before World War 1 is basically the Middle Ages) and lots of descriptions of noble men on horses in indecipherable English. In reality, Tolstoy actually puts a serious emphasis on the humanness of his characters – their relationships with others, their own personal thoughts, humor, sarcasm, joy and sadness. It’s still a bit weird for me. I never expected to find myself laughing. Wanting to hug these people. Or just give ’em a high-five.

“The universal experience of ages, showing that children do grow imperceptibly from the cradle to manhood, did not exist for the countess. Her son’s growth towards manhood at each of its stages had seemed as extraordinary to her as if there had never existed the millions of human beings who grew up in the same way.” (pg. 181), Tolstoy says of Nicholas Rostov and his mother. Something in the way this was phrased made me grin from ear to ear, and Rostov, a 19th century way-too-patriotic-for-my-taste soldier, who seemed so far from anything I could ever understand, became just a kid. A twenty year old kid who comes home to his worried mother.

He’s also just a kid who takes the car on the weekend, and sometimes gambles away all the money his parents gave him. “And suddenly, in the most casual tone, which made him feel ashamed of himself, he said, as if merely asking his father to let him have the carriage to drive to town: […] ‘I need some money.’ ‘Dear me!’ said his father […]” (pg. 267). 43,000 rubles of it. He then tells himself he’ll start saving up 80% of his salary every year to pay it back. Yeah right, man. Let’s be real.

On one evening, Rostov finds himself relaying his battle story to other men he seeks to impress. “He began his story meaning to tell everything just as it happened, but imperceptibly, involuntarily, and inevitably he lapsed into falsehood. […] He could not tell them simply that everyone went at a trot, and that he fell off his horse and sprained his arm and then ran as hard as he could from a Frenchman into the wood. Besides, to tell everything as it really happened it would have been necessary to make an effort of will to tell only what happened. It is very difficult to tell the truth, and young people are rarely capable of it.” (pg. 186). Without even noticing I find myself there, in that room with him, feeling his almost childish desire to be a hero, embellishing reality. During the beginning of his service Nicholas’s bubble is burst, as he discovers that war is not at all what he expected. It’s bloody and messy and painful, and sometimes when you finally find yourself facing the enemy you accidentally fall. It’s not always marvelous or magnificent, and Lieutenant Count Rostov is just a kid who wants his friends to think he’s cool. And all of a sudden we’re not in 1805, Olmutz, Moravia (now Olomouc, Czech Republic), visiting friends from the Ismaylovsky Regiment, discussing the war. We’re in 20th century high school or middle school or elementary school, telling everyone about the crazy, incredible things we did on summer vacation, hoping we’ll finally become the popular kid this year.

Hadas.

And now for a question. As I write, I wonder what brings you guys back (since I’ve noticed it’s the same few every time – thanks, by the way). Are you reading the book as well? Have you already read it? Are you planning to? Should I be avoiding spoilers? (Character-wise of course, because history, well… it’s already sort of spoiled itself.) Feel free to say hello, share your own experiences, questions, thoughts. I’m always here. (Not much you can do with a broken ankle.)


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