Review: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Review: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

The genre: Historical, epic

The gist: Oh boy. Lots of stuff happens to lots of Russians during Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia. It’s big, endearing, and human.

The background: The musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 brought me here. It’s based on only a small section of War and Peace, but I loved the characters so much I wanted more of their story.

1,300 pages later, here we are.

The review: My first Tolstoy!

Finished this bad boy back in October but held off on posting because I have a lot of ~thoughts~ and ~feelings~ …

But first β€” look how pretty and minimalist this Oxford edition is βœ¨οΈπŸ“š

So, Seinfeld was kind of right when he joked that Tolstoy’s original title for War and Peace was War…What Is It Good For? Because that’s basically the point of this novel. War is bad. War is dumb. War is started by countless random events accumulating, and it rewards the worst traits in people, like ruthlessness and blind loyalty. Everything is backwards in war: brother killing brother when they otherwise might be friends.

This is a rich tapestry of a tale. Challenging at times, with blocky, philosophy-packed paragraphs and painstaking battle details, but mostly it’s charming and heart-wrenching.

The characters, though ❀️ The characters were the highlight for me. Everyone in War and Peace is so human and multi-faceted, I was sad to be done hanging out with them when I finished reading. I loved Pierre’s constant existential crises, Natasha’s bright, enduring spirit, Nikolai’s earnestness, Marya’s reflective tranquility.

I don’t know that I’ll ever read it in its entirety againβ€”life is just too short πŸ˜‚β€”but I know I’ll page through to revisit some of the beautiful writing πŸ“–

The rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

They had evidently both formed the same resolution, the eyes of both shone with satisfaction and a confession that besides its sorrow, life also has joy.

β€”Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
Audio

This podcast is really good.

Lolita Podcast is super interesting.

It’s about the 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov and all the adaptations and pop culture it spawned.

More importantly, it’s about the anti-abuse intention of the novel vs. the patriarchal canon framing it as “a great love story.” It’s about Dolores Haze, the fictional twelve-year-old victim in the novel, vs. the “seductress Lolita” we see in pop culture.

From high fashion campaigns, to countless pop and rock songs, to questionable film and stage adaptations, and so much more, Lolita gets glamorized in Western society without much reference to its horrifying source text. It’s romanticized as a forbidden love storyβ€”a sexually mature nymphette and a misunderstood older man against the world.

All this, when the actual novel is about a pedophile grooming, manipulating, kidnapping, and raping an underaged girl.

Hm. Wonder who benefits from making the culture at large view Humbert and Lolita as a love story. (Hint: It’s not young girls.)

Hosted by comedian Jamie Loftus, this podcast is extremely well-researched and sensitive to the topic. It’s only 10 episodes, so it’s pretty finish-able.

Listen wherever you listen to podcasts, or check it out at iHeart here.