Can War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy really be called a novel? Sure there’s fiction, but there’s also history, philosophy, and what very much feels like Tolstoy stopping by to tell you how he feels about the world.
My initial thought upon finishing the 2nd epilogue was, “I finally finished.”
Then, “I think I need to read it again.”
For the few who don’t know much about War and Peace, it’s one of those gigantic Russian classics that many don’t read because of the length and style.
The book follows the Napoleonic wars and a series of created characters. While I loved the storyline and characters, what this book is really about is an idea – or question.
What causes man to war?
I find the concept that we don’t truly know why man wars intriguing. It opened my eyes to the realization that what we know of the past is through biased information and that a heroic figure might seem like the cause of a revolution, but we don’t really know if they are actually the cause of movement in people. Tolstoy even disregards the idea of ideas being the cause of movement.
Tolstoy’s answer to the question points to the divine as an unseen and unknown cause.
Highly recommend. Don’t be daunted by the length – I began in January and there were times I didn’t have the time to pick it up for weeks. It was worth it.
I have a love for James Joyce, so when I saw a copy of Conversations with James Joyce by Arthur Power in a secondhand bookshop, I didn’t hesitate to pick it up.
Power was friendly with Joyce while living in Paris in the 1920s. Joyce, a man who largely to himself, still keeps to himself most of this book. It’s a recollection of snippets of conversations Power had with Joyce about Art.
To really get into it, you’d have to be really well read because most of the talks are about opinions of various writers.
Some of it I wasn’t able to enjoy simply because I hadn’t read, or even heard of, some of the writers and their works.
I’m one of those people who admire Joyce without even having read his major works (I’ll get to them…) It’s his person I find fascinating. Some may say he’s a snob or simply full of himself, and I say so what.
His concept for Art is basically this: youth breeds romantics, but maturity has to breed mature work. Oh, and break the rules of writing.
Caribou: Poems is the third collection of poetry I’ve read by Charles Wright. I’ve loved his work since the first.
His poetry breathes life into the small things of the world but inputs grand ideas into them. The simplicity of darkness doesn’t just have a grander meaning – that would be easy – what I love is that he has the ability to use an overrun phrase like darkness for something with a deeper meaning and have it work so well.
At the same time his lines are so unique.
This specific collection is like a series of letters from wright about old age and death. There are conversational lines in which it seems Wright is speaking to you and to himself.
One of my favorite lines comes from the poem Everything Passes, But Is It Time? – “Your heart conflicted, you’re footfalls sure.”
A lot of his lines have what I’ll call a “bounce effect,” (but I’m sure there’s an actual term for it.) In a different collection there’s a line that goes “heart and heart beat.”
There are parallels in sound and ideas. They bounce off each other.
These aren’t reviews, just musing on some of the books I read this month.
Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think about them? If not, what books have you read?
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