The third volume of War and Peace is the longest section of the books so far. There is certainly much more war than peace in this section as things go from bad to worse for the Russians. More and more characters die, or are maimed and injured, and the battle of Borodino is described in this volume in great deal that you can almost imagine that you were there so realistic a vision Tolstoy gives us.
Napoleon comes into his own as a character in this volume, and he is the most interesting character in this volume also. The rest of the main characters story are moved on in this volume against the backdrop of this long and bloody war.
There is quite a bit of philosophising on the part of Tolstoy in this volume about the way that history is presented and how he feels that it should be presented, which is in the way that he does in this volume. He also talks just as much as war, about the nature of war, which is very interesting to read.
He does not shirk from the excesses of war and what it does to people, and how it affects the people who fight in it, and the people who are left behind by the people who fight in it.
This section has been the most difficult to read of the three volumes so far but in many ways the most rewarding as this really is the heart of the book and what the book is all about.
I can’t believe that I have read more than 900 pages of this book so far and that it still continuing. Most books would have been long over by now!
I have now read volume 2 of War and Peace, and am virtually half way through the book, and it has only taken me a month which I am really surprised at to be honest, and makes me think that I can read it in a lot less time than I originally thought which will be nice.
The main characters continue to grow throughout this second volume and there is a bit less of the war in this volume than there is the first volume, but it is always there in background, as I guess it pretty much was for the people who were living in that period of history.
We learned quite a lot about freemasonry in this volume with Pierre becoming a mason after leaving his wife as he had heard that she was having an affair and challenged someone to a duel (which seems to be a very Russian thing to do in this situation as it was in Eugene Onegin).
There is quite a lot of romance going on in this volume with the different families trying to marry of their sons and daughters to each other but only if there is something in it for them, rather than because the people are actually even slightly interested in the other, which would seem to be very typical of period of history. It is no wonder that most of the couples in the books don’t seem to get on very well with each other!
Rather than more war we get a very lengthy description of a hunt, which wasn’t that interesting really and would probably have been more interesting if it had been more war instead.
I think that a lot of the female characters get quite a lot of time devoted to them in this volume as it was pretty much all about the men in the first volume with the girls getting a bit more attention here even if most of it was about how much they loved someone and how hard it was them not being with the person they loved etc, etc.
I actually find all the interactions between the characters, and the descriptions of life in Russia at that time, to be the most interesting this about this book and that is what is making this book so fascinating to read!
Chapters 5 & 6
I wasn’t overly enamoured of the fifth chapter of Onegin but it did have some interesting parts to it such as the bits about Russia in the winter, and Tatyana’s dream which is quite bizarre and shows the reader just how mixed up she is. It is a lot of fun to read and it can also be rather funny too.
Onegin shows himself to be a bit of cad pretty much ignoring Tatyana who loves him dearly and dancing with her sister instead right in front of her eyes, which annoys Lensky who in a fit of chivalrous pique challenges Onegin to a duel.
Chapter six is the most action packed of the chapters so far as this deals with the lead up to, the duel itself, and the aftermath of of said duel, which doesn’t end well for poor Lensky.
Onegin, from the start of this chapter, is a bit of arse, and doesn’t seem to be taking the whole duel thing seriously which enrages poor Lensky even more and, at the end of the chapter, you feel really sorry for Lensky and think of Onegin as being a rather nasty piece of work who is not all as nice and virtuous a person as he could be.
It is also quite ironic that the author himself would later be killed in a duel himself, but that is another story.
Chapters 3 & 4 Questions
– Impressions of Tatyana and Olga?
Tatyna seems like a nice girl but is incredibly naive and a bit too easily led; I can’t say that I have any impression of Olga at all from what I have read so far,
– What do you make of Onegin’s reaction to Tatyana?
Onegin is quite pleased that she has fallen hopelessly in love with him but he tries to keep her at arms length rather than just trying to get his end away, which would probably happen if it was set now. This makes him quite a rounded character who is more interested in her welfare and happiness than his own, which is quite refreshing.
– How does the story, thus far, compare or contrast with another classic romantic novel (of your choice)?
I suppose it does give the impression of being about unrequited love but I can’t really compare to any other classic romantic novels as I can’t think of any that I have read and remember!