Tuesday, February 22, 2011

War and Peace Readalong--Volume III

I was supposed to publish this post February 12.  Oops!  That's what happens when you throw too much on your plate (my own fault).  I just finished Volume III this morning.  It took me FOREVER!!!  This volume was by far the most tedious.  I love reading about the characters, but the tactical battle stuff was making my eyes glaze over.  Talk of the redoubt (with fleches?) and the position of the left flank.  What?  I don't get it.  I just can't picture it.  I kind of don't care.  I just want to know what happened.

I was interested to see the transformation of some of the characters.  I love Prince Andrei, but the circumstances of the last volume left him bitter.  I was happy to see a bit of a transformation at the end, albeit for a sad reason.  I love that Natasha is maturing.  She's not perfect, but she's not the flighty little girl of the past.  Her compassion on the wounded soldiers at the expense of the Rostov's material possessions made me smile.

It's hard to read about the devastation of the war.  I've always considered the lives lost in the military, but the civilians surrounding the battle were placed in terrifying situations.  How awful that the rich were able to flee, but many of the peasants were left behind.

Tolstoy spent a few chapter philosophizing about war.  It was interesting to learn his perspective.  To him, war is won or lost by the combination of thousands of varied circumstances and thousands of individual wills.  He paints a vivid picture of this in the battle of Borodino.  It shows that Napoleon and Kutuzov had very little control over what was happening.  For all of their planning, what mattered were the choices of thousands of individual soldiers in the thick of the battle.  I'm curious to see how this theme develops in the next volume.

Although it's slow going, I'm glad that I'm making the effort to read War and Peace.  I'll be back on February 28th with my thoughts on Volume IV.  I won't be late next time!


  1. I'm almost always behind on these readalongs,lol! I try not to worry about it, but sometimes it stresses me out. It's been a while since I read War and Peace, and there is so much I don't remember! I'm not sure if I will ever try again though, even though I liked it.

  2. Good stuff!! I'm getting to some of the war stuff now and I'm worried that I'm going to get lost there. However, knowing other people who have done it is excellent motivation - ta!

  3. Shelley--I need to remember that it's just for fun. I'm enjoying reading War and Peace, but I agree with you--I'll probably never read it again. It's just too time consuming.

    Kathmeista--The war stuff at the beginning isn't too bad. I didn't really start to struggle with it until the end of Volume II and most of Volume III. Just push through it though. It gets better. :)

  4. Don't worry at all about posting late, it's just amazing to get through each volume. I agree that Vol. 3 felt particularly rough. I did love some of the character development in Natasha and Pierre's stories. I pushing through the final volumen and, like you, I'm pretty sure I won't re-read this one, but I'm glad I'm reading it now.