War and Peace

I finished it.

Some smart-arse the other day asked if I enjoyed it. I responded that I did at turns, but ‘enjoy’ is too small a word to describe the experience. I think it’s an odyssey a person embarks on. Anyone who enjoys reading stories should read it because, in one way, it is the concept of a novel realised to its greatest possibility.

I am going to say as little as possible about the book now, because anything short of reading it yourself is a waste of your time. Forget study-guides for this one; find someone you know who has read it to discuss it with you as you go. Be prepared for good times and bad ones, the same as if you had undertaken to run the Hawaii Marathon.

Put simply, the book is about the phenomenon of history. In terms of the story, it’s a mechanism in which the large gears of the Napoleonic wars turn the little gears of its characters. Tolstoy, like Shakespeare, is a seer; he takes you into the human condition on a shuttle. Like T.S. Eliot says, ‘And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know that place for the first time.’*

That place is you.

*’Little Gidding’ from Four Quartets. 

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