Friday, March 14, 2014

Perception of Tolstoy's History Over Time

    As I skimmed through the Second Epilogue, trying not to get lost in all the repetition of ideas, I found myself not terribly excited about this section of War and Peace. I wasn't surprised by that-for the most part, I found the sections on history more than little tedious. The ideas themselves were not always the problem, but more how they were written and placed in the text as a whole.
    What I keep wondering is how did people react to the sections on history when War and Peace was originally published? The novel itself was fairly popular, but that doesn't mean people were actually reading these lectures on how Tolstoy thought history should be analyzed and perceived. Did people generally enjoy the sections about history or just skim to the more exciting parts? For that matter, does Tolstoy's way of earnestly presenting his thoughts on history add to the novel as a whole or were the various stories and how they unfolded enough to convey the message?

1 comment:

  1. Alex, maybe the sections on history were treated in the same way Natasha and Mary dealt with their husbands' interests. Even though Natasha didn't understand Pierre's philosophical ideas and Mary didn't quite comprehend Nicholas' pleasure of working with the peasants, they supported them and stood up for those ideas. I imagine society of the time raving about War and Peace as a fabulous book even though most people would have missed the details of history - I feel that the sense that Tolstoy gives that Kutuzov was wise and Napoleon was too self-conceited is easy to understand and enough to appeal to the general public. I might be wrong or overly simplify this but that's just my opinion.