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There is dancing, and singing, and travelling, and drunkenness. All of life.

And tedium and war and suffering and death. ;-)

It was War & Peace that really clued me into the fact that classics were classics because they were good stories. We were reading it in English class, and I had not read the first assignment, but as I listened to the conversation, it dawned on me that this was really good stuff. I went home and read it pretty quickly and I have since read it twice more. It's about time to read it again, but I don't have that time.

W&P goes back and forth between philosophical historical monologues and the story, and I have to admit that I skip the former now.

I started to read AK after that, but I never finished it for some reason.

I find Tolstoy to be far more European and comprehensible than Dostoevsky. I know Pierre and Natasha in a way I can never know Dmitri & Grushenka. Still, I think there is more depth to Doestoevsky.

That passage in the field reminds me of a picture by Winslow Homer that I posted on Fb the other day. Maybe you remember it Stu.


This one.


Yes, it certainly does. Had to go back to your FB page and look but then I remembered having seen it. There is certainly something to be said for working outside all day to take your mind off of your troubles. Especially, as is the case with Levin, if you do not have to do this for a living!

I've always thought that looked like work that would seem fairly easy for 5 or 10 minutes but then be killing.

Funny, 40+ years after reading Anna K, one of the few specific scenes I remember is Levin with the peasants. Am I confusing it with something from another book, or do the peasants laugh at him a bit for not being able to keep up with them?

Yes, they do. It is a happy scene with all of them enjoying Levin's presence out in the fields with him.

I'm curious now about how they deal with the interspersed French among the Russian in the French translations!

If I remember correctly, there are a few points in Anna Karenina where the narrator says that a character said such-and-such "in English". I assume that in Tolstoy's original it is just printed in English. The same could be done for the French in a French translation, but there is enough French that it could get tedious.

I had the bright idea of using "look inside" on amazon.fr, but it only showed the first few pages, and there was no evidence of French being spoken.

That was a bright idea. Too bad it didn't work.

By the way, Stu, I don't recall you saying "all of life...", but I do recall that you were very enthusiastic. I think I'll order the P/V translation. Having to go down to the bottom of the page doesn't sound that bad. I remember when you first described this to me I thought you were saying they left the French altogether untranslated, which would definitely be unacceptable.

Thank you for this post Stu. I can remember vividly the great joy I took from reading War and Peace at the age of 18. I do not know if I have ever enjoyed reading a novel as much as that one. I read it again about 10 years ago. What a wonderful book. Its somewhat vulgar - I remember thinking the second time I read it that it was a bit like 'Dallas'. I only read Anna K once. Of course, as Janet says, Dostoievsky is deeper. My teacher Professor Cowan, who died yesterday aged 98, said that her uneducated self preferred Tolstoy but her educated self preferred Dostoievsky. One does have to be *very* educated to prefer Dostoievsky to Tolstoy. But anyway, Nastash is such a wonderful creation, and so is Prince Andrew and his sister and their dreadful father.

"As annoying as it is for someone to show up to your office and say this, it is true."

It can't have been too annoying, or Maclin would have recalled it!

I enjoy Dostoyevsky too - but it is a completely different sort of enjoyment, and perhaps I must be in the right frame of mind to read him. But he is indeed great. Hard to really sympathize or have a feeling for his characters.

Ha! I would walk into Mac's office making so many varied comments about so many things that my praising of W&P is probably less remembered.

I'm surprised that no-one is challenging Mr. Deco about his adding "hag" to Angela Merkel's title. Sorry, I'm cross pollinating here ... I don't want to get into a refugee/terrorist discussion with anyone at all. :)

"Hard to really sympathize or have a feeling for [Dostoevsky's] characters."

In general I'd agree with that, but I can think of several exceptions. I sympathized to some degree with all three of the Karamazov brothers to some degree. And in Devils, had a good deal of feeling for the revolutionary who tried to break with the group--Kirilov?

Raskolnikov, though, is not just an unappealing but a very tiresome character.

O, my immediate response to Stu was that I had a strong sympathy with the lead character of Crime and Punishment - but I could not remember his name. Raskolnikov.

Really? I found him mostly a great bore. Though really--and I hesitate to say this--I think my complaint is more with Dostoevsky's narrative technique than with the character. I mean, the thing just seemed to drag on and on.

Ashamed to say it, but I've not read any Tolstoy yet. Been meaning to for years, but I just keep re-reading Dostoevsky! ;-)

Tolstoy is just plain more pleasant to read. Pleasantness helps one get through 1500 pages.

C&P does feel longer than W&P. Karamazov however is another story!

It is definitely another story. It is about the most other story I've ever read.


3 times

"...but I just keep re-reading Dostoevsky!"

I confess that although I do want to read W&P, this discussion is making me want to read BK and Devils again just as much.

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