Thursday, July 03, 2014
Book Report: War and Peace
Reading this was utter misery from end to end. This is in a class with Moby-Dick and A tale of Two Cities, among the least readable, universally lauded classics that normal people read only out of sheer hatred and determination.
Tolstoy is like a kindergartener talking about his day. He has a keen eye and feel for detail, but no ability to distinguish between what is relevant and compelling and what isn't. He puts you there, alright, in the grim bleakness of standoffs with Napoleon on Russian battlefields. He conveys the feeling of bitter regret and despair, when you realize that you have been plugging away through his dense, punishing prose for weeks and look ahead to see there is no end in sight.
The value of the book, and the only reason other than bragging rights to say you've conquered it to keep reading, is to be transported to the ugly, despair-plagued times in which the book is set. War is hell, peace is boring, and this book is the worst of both worlds.