Let’s Read This Thing is my Part by Part write up of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Spoilers!
It’s over. It’s finally over.
That probably sounds really disparaging, but I don’t mean it in a negative way, really. War and Peace was a wonderful book. It was more enjoyable and entertaining than I expected. I feel like I actually learned quite a bit about a period in history that I’m a little rusty on, and I got to read a compelling drama centered around the end of a lifestyle. It’s been a
It’s been a three-month journey which, when you add in the write-ups, ate up a lot of time. So while I’m glad that I’ve read it, I’m also thrilled to have hours back to read other things! It was a long, 1,200 page road, and we’ve reached the final destination.
Unsurprisingly, the Epilogue of the book was also very, very long. 85 page or so, and split into two parts. The first of which jumps ahead 7 years and gives us a glimpse at the combined Rostov-Bezhukov-Bolkonsky clan. A lot has happened off page- marriages, births, deaths, relocations. Marya remains grounded in her faith. Nikolai seeks a life of simple farming rather than one of glory… though he is still making stupid money decisions. Pierre is again on a quest for change and betterment in the world, and Natasha stands beside him.
Tolstoy sets up the characters for a new chapter, implying that some of them will take part in the Decemberist revolts; that the war never really ends.
The final bit of the epilogue is the most philosophically dense part of writing in the entire book and made getting to the end less of a triumphant sprint than a wading slog. It is an important section though, as it summarizes all of Tolstoy’s opinions on history, on free-will, and on power and where it derives from. It is every little aside, every musing on what caused the war, of what saved Russia. It distils thoughts on choice and destiny down to a 35 page essay, closing out the epic to say that history is made not solely by actions of great men, but by the hundreds and thousands of little things. And those things themselves are not done of free will, nor are they pre-determined. We have freedoms, but they are guided by a force greater than ourselves. It’s a lot to process but it is the writer’s final argument, his last statement on all that has happened, and all that will yet come.