Friday, November 4, 2005

All Done

I feel a wee bit sad tonight. "Goodbye", I say to this new friend

I'll put ol' Tolstoy on the shelf, For War and Peace is at an end.

Yes, I did it. I have finished this "vast epic centred on Napoleon's war with Russia."

Did I like it?


Will I read it again?

I think so.

Next time I'll keep a highlighter close by, and I'll just underline the good bits instead of dogging all the corners of the pages!

The last few chapters were the hardest, but also the most philosophical; the most interesting; the most revealing of the man, Tolstoy and his mind. It's like he's taking his last kick at the cat- it's his last chance to drive home his philosophy of history- of life.

The Table of Contents summarizes the Second Epilogue (the last chapters) thus:

"A general discussion on the historians' study of human life, and on the difficulty of defining the forces that move nations. The problem of freewill and necessity [or "inevitability"]."

Truly interesting. Food for thought-  hearty, meaty,  flavourful food. Good and good for you.

I'll leave you with this bit, although I'm not promising that it will be the last Tolstoy Tidbit you'll get out of me, because I like it. Chew on it a while.

"A man having no freedom cannot be conceived of except as deprived of life.

If the conception of freedom appears to reason a senseless contradiction, like the possibility of performing two actions at one and the same instant of time, or of an effect without a cause, that only proves that consciousness is not subject to reason.

This unshakable, irrefutable consciousness of freedom, uncontrolled by experiment or argument, recognized by all thinkers and felt by everyone without exception, this consciousness without which no conception of man is possible, constitutes the other side of the question.

Man is the creation of an all-powerful, all-good, and all-seeing God. What is sin, the conception of which arises from the consciousness of man's freedom? That is the question for theology.

The actions of men are subject to general immutable laws expressed in statistics. What is man's responsibility to society, the conception of which results from the conception of freedom? That is the question for jurisprudence.

Man's actions proceed from his innate character and the motives acting upon him. What is conscience, and the perception of right and wrong in actions, that follows from the consciousness of freedom? That is the question for ethics.

Man in connexion with the general life of humanity appears subject to laws which determine that life. But the same man, apart from that connexion, appears to be free. How should the past life of nations and of humanity be regarded- as the result of the free, or as the result of the constrained, activity of man? That is the question for history.

Only in our self-confident day of the popularization of knowledge - thanks to that most powerful engine of ignorance, the diffusion of printed matter- has the question of the freedom of will been put on a level on which the question itself cannot exist. In our time the majority of so-called advanced people - that is, the crowd of ignoramuses - has taken the work of the naturalists who deal with one side of the question for a solution of the whole problem."

From Epilogue Two, Chapter 8

I wouldn't like to have been on the other side of a debate with this man.

I would have liked to know that Sonya married  Denisov and lived as happily ever after as the others. And how did the children grow up?

I don't suppose there was  "War and Peace: The Sequel"?!


  1. Twas interesting how the "conciousness of freedom" bit reminded me of the book I'm reading by Donald Miller. He talks about Adam and Eve realizing they were naked. Calls it the "horrifying awareness of self" in his book, Searching for God Knows What. Sounds like similar thinking. Then he says "God have mercy".

  2. WOW! you finished it AND you understood it... I've always known that you were awesome but now Whoa!

    I've got a nice Harlequin you could read next!

    LOL :} :] :}