Tuesday, November 13, 2007

War and Peace: Completed.

War and Peace: Completed.

I have officially completed the novel that is War and Peace, though I must add, with a very surface level understanding. They say it is one of the greatest novels every written, and I must agree with this, as it would have taken a literary genie to develop all the characters, plots, sub-plots, and even intertwine them with one another on such an intricate level. Kudos to you Leo Tolstoy.

I did enjoy the way that Tolstoy portrayed the actions of history not to be controlled by military men of genius (Tolstoy argues that there exist no such genius’), but by something much larger than simply a single man. I think he builds a strong point (though not necessarily intentionally) for the influence of a sovereign God on the course of history, though I am pretty certain this is not the view he chooses to accept.

I was a bit disappointed this afternoon, as I found myself drowning in Tolstoy’s debate between the relationship between free will and necessity in the last portion of the book. I’m pretty sure I am in no position to comment on this last segment, but I can at least say I tried to comprehend what I could. Maybe I’ll understand when I’m older.

The book itself has done quite a bit of traveling to get to this point. It has been to Kenya, Mozambique, Hawaii, Washington, South Africa, Greece, and multiple aeroplanes in between. Just last month, I saw it necessary to perform surgery on it, as is shown in the picture (it was originally purchased in a single volume). One box of cornflakes and a few slices of duct tape later, I had two much more manageable books.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt:

Now he had learnt to see the great, the eternal, and the infinite in everything; and naturally therefore, in order to see it, to revel in its contemplation, he flung aside the telescope through which he had hitherto been gazing over men’s heads, and looked joyfully at the ever-changing, ever grand, unfathomable, and infinite life around him. And the closer he looked at it, the calmer and happier he was. The terrible question that had shattered all his intellectual edifices in old days, the question: What for? had no existence for him now. To that question, What for? he had now always ready in his soul the simple answer: Because there is a God, that God without whom not one hair of a man’s head falls (p. 1258).

Amongst other things, there exists a cornucopia of stray dogs here in Porto Rafti. It is not uncommon to hear of people going out to town, followed by 19 stray dogs. I often find it a bit unsettling, not knowing the life stories and backgrounds of these pups, but I guess they’re interesting to have around.

Now I'll be moving on to Les Miserables, when I have the time.