Daily Archives: March 8, 2016

20% done with The World of Yesterday


the double standard of the sexes is nothing new. In his time women were kept as far away from sex as possible (chaperon, over education and activities like dancing and piano) and were ridiculed if they didn’t marry by 30. Men were allowed to explore, however discreetly, but going as far as the father of the house paying a servant girl to “instruct” the young man.

61% done with War and Peace


A bad novel, assuming it could have even got to this point where Andrei sees Kuragin, would have enraged Andrei or played it off as some sort of retribution for the pain Kuragin caused. But not here. Here Andrei is transformed by understanding what he never realized before: that he only needed to love, love everyone.

Make of this what you will, but he had been so driven by hatred that it led to his death.

60% done with War and Peace


“And what will be there, and what has there been here? Why was I so reluctant to part with life? There was something in this life I did not and do not understand.”

I think this is something a lot of us fear, to go to death leaving something not lived but not knowing what that was. I think William Stoner in “Stoner” felt similar.

But the truth is neither man allowed themselves to live as Natasha lives.

60% done with War and Peace


One of my favorite scenes in the novel is when Kutuzov sees that he is about to receive bad news as to the state of the battle, stands up, puts his arm around the man, and takes the news away from ears that could hear and thus kill the morale. This is the “spirit of the army” Tolstoy is writing about, that feeling that all is won (or lost), and it’s the one thing Kutuzov knows he has some control over.

60% done with War and Peace


We watch the slow, inevitable collapse of the French as Napoleon watches helplessly as his (and the Russian) army slaughter each other to near annihilation. Tolstoy describes how in the face of defeat none of the Generals wish to make eye contact with each other and how Napoleon selfishly feels how unnecessary this all is (only now does he feel this!)

Of course the outcome is more complicated than this.