Daily Archives: February 14, 2016

5% done with The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

What I found even more interesting than the cruelty of Commodus was how everyone reacted to Pertinax. Pertinax attempted to return Rome to a stricter (and in his mind stronger) footing, yet though he people hated Commodus, they feared Pertinax’s reforms to turn them away from leisure. Political lesson learned: you’ll reign (live) longer being cruel (12 years) than being strict (3 months).

Rome slips faster now.

41% done with War and Peace


Tolstoy must have known a real-life Marya Dmitrievna because I don’t think even he could have invented such a character. It’s not that she’s remarkable, or over-the-top, it’s just that she’s so real.

I love this slow build up of dread for Natasha’s and Andrei’s wedding. All of book 7 had this in the background, and now with the old prince in a bad way, with the convenient marriage of Boris, the end’s up

40% done with War and Peace


I know we’re not supposed to really have strong feelings one way or the other about Boris, but I have a strange admiration for how well he handles himself and his affairs. True he seems to have no real passions in life, other than being successful, but he’s not a bad person, he’s just a forgettable person. Oddly Berg is more memorable than Boris, maybe because he has a naive quality.

Still, give me passion

40% done with War and Peace


Just as Pierre’s childlike nature makes him seem a buffoon and ill-suited to society, Natasha’s natural charm will not suit her for society either, but in a different way. She is about to be used and disliked by Maria, and Pierre can tell she will not like her. The 2 of them, Pierre and Natasha, represent the full vigor and openness of love and kindness, and the cynical world seeks to hurt them.

40% done with War and Peace


“Ah, when one looks at our young people, Prince, one would like to take Peter the Great’s old cudgel out of the museum and belabor them in the Russian way till all the nonsense jumps out of them”, the words spoken by a generation lost touch with reality. And this always happens to the old: they think the young are all debauched and lazy. The old Prince characterizes this decline of reason we all face.