Wednesday, July 20, 2011

War & Peace Wednesday: When Is Enough Enough?

This section, Volume 2, Parts 2 & 3, follows the transformations of Pierre and Prince Andrei.  The former becomes a Mason while the latter falls in love.  That's basically it.

To be honest, this section bored me silly, quite contrary to the last sections, which kept me intrigued and excited to continue.  I came to wonder:  When is enough enough?  And when is an abridged version OK? (The latter's a question that arose as I visited new blogs on yesterday's Top 10 Tuesday hop as well.)

(SPOILER PARAGRAPH BELOW, then back to non-spoiler wrap-up...)
Why was I wondering?  Well, it's pretty dull stuff to watch one quirky, spacey, bumbling buffoon turn into an upstanding quasi-religious man and get back together with his beautiful but shallow and boring wife.  Also dull? To watch an annoyingly condescending character vacillate among various equally privileged life paths, then fall in love with a ditz-brained 16 year old (yes, it's the famous Natasha, and I still don't see how she's going to pan out to be an interesting or worthy character, but hope springs...). Sigh.

I can't even bring myself to offer my three-somes this time, because, frankly, nothing stands out.  Sorry friends, but that's just the way I'm seeing it.

But it's quite possibly not how Tolstoy's original readers saw it.  In fact, they saw it in installments, as a serialized novel.  Think Dickens, but with more upper-crusty characters (Dickens meets Austen in St. Petersburg?).  And - as with every single Harry Potter book - traditional plotting/pacing dictates that there must be some slow sections to ramp up for the high-intensity wand-fights with Voldemort.  I'm still feeling a little skittish though, because in Anna Karenina the wand-fights never materialized: no real pay off, intensity-wise.  Oh, plot happened.  But the climax definitely didn't justify all the boring sections.  Fingers crossed that this one'll be more rewarding in the end.

So here's my question:  When a work is sucking down your summer, pulling you under with a sense of obligation sans reward, how many pages must you read before it's OK to say, "My one wild and precious life is more important than having read yet another Tolstoy chunkster?"  What's the point at which you're not wimping out or selling yourself and your writer short, but rather saving you both?  I'll definitely keep going - for now - but this question is truly vexing me, and I'd appreciate your help.

On a positive note:  One more section (Volume 2, books 4 & 5) and we're half way through! 

So for those of you reading along, let's just take a deep breath, dive in again, and get through this together.

MFB, and it's gotta get better from here,

p.s.  For an alternate perspective, you might want to visit Laura at Booksnob who's reading this with us...

1 comment:

online pharmacy said...

I read it a few years ago it was a incredible book. Nice recommendation.

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