War and peace | Tolstoy

I am currently reading, among other things, Tolstoy’s “War and peace”. I am halfway through book two (of four). It is the first time I read Tolstoy (never read Anna Karenine!) and I am enjoying it a lot. The novel takes place during the Napoelonic wars in Russia and is a window showing how life was for soldiers on the front, but also shows life in Bourgeois circles. It is indeed extremely interesting to have access to how life was spent in those days, engaging because we see it through the eyes of protagonists that come from different backgrounds and have different points of view on their society. I am enjoying more the second book than the first. A good half of the first book is spent on battle fields, and it is easy to get confused as there are so many characters interacting ; at some point I did not know anymore who was who. But as the novel progresses, you get to know the main ones better and this is when things get absorbing.

Second book develops the psychology and depth of its protagonists, I would say it is more philosophical and reminds me a bit of Dostoïevski’s writing at this point. I thought of Proust too a couple of times, as some scenes take place in Mme Bezukhov’s salon, which reminded me of the salon de Mme Verdurin. The plot thickens around characters, I want to know what will happen, how they feel, what they are thinking. I am definitely engaged and curious. I am learning a lot at the same time. I can’t wait for Tolstoy to get more philosophical. I read online that the last book is more a philosophy treaty than a novel, I am looking forward to it.

So far, I am thrilled with this book. I am not sure what I was expecting, maybe something harder to read, as people often present this novel like a “Bible”, an achievement, but it is an effortless and delighting read so far. Maybe “La recherche du temps perdu” has strengthened me somehow, has made me able to enjoy long novels that really take the time to dwell into the details and particularities of the human experience. I am far from the end of “War and Peace”, but I feel confident enough to say that if you have never read it, this book is definitely a must.

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