War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume III, Part II: Napoleon Bonaparte Has a Cold

 

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Several of our main characters do important things in this chapter. Pierre joins the war as a spectator, which is apparently a thing you can do. The old prince dies, and Marya tries not to be happy about it. The peasants revolt, and Nikolai gets a chance to help a (rich, single) damsel in distress. Andrei broods, and is badly wounded.

The real star of this section, though, is Napoleon Bonaparte. And he has a cold. Continue reading

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume II, Part V and Volume III, Part I: Get it, girl

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

I’d vaguely heard of the musical “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”, but I’d no idea that it was currently running AND that it is based on just one chapter of War and Peace, my favourite so far, good ol’ Vol. II Part V.

The musical summarizes this chapter better than I ever could:

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume II, Parts III and IV: Phoning it in

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

It happens every read-along: around halfway through, the host starts phoning it in. I regret to inform you that the time has come. I’m about to fly across the country to see my family in Atlantic Canada and between wrapping up at work and packing and regular summer time craziness, it ain’t happening this week, or at least, not with my usual attention to detail.

Let’s see who else is phoning it in these days… shall we? Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume II, Parts I and II: Superfluous Men

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Wait, aren’t all men superfluous?

No, and I won’t tolerate that kind of misandry around here. ACTUALLY, the “Superfluous Man” is a literary trope common in Russian lit of the mid 19th century, and usually means a character who doesn’t quite fit into society, despite having the ways and means to do so.  The name comes from Ivan Turgenev’s The Diary of a Superfluous Man, which was published a good 10+ years before War and Peace and is definitely on my TBR, but the trope goes back as far as Pushkin, who seems to have influenced every major Russian author who came after him.

The Superfluous Man seems to be related to the Byronic Hero, with a little less romance and a lot less crazy… not so much mad, bad, and dangerous to know as slightly annoyed, fairly bad, and extremely eye-roll-inducing… in fact, I’d say the Superfluous Man has more in common with the Charmless Man than Lord Byron.

Couldn’t this song just describe every boring aristocrat in Anna Pavlova’s salon? Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume I, Part III: Hélène’s boobs destroy society

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Was I the only one surprised that this wasn’t a “Peace” section, given that Part I was all “Peace”, and part II was all “War”? The rest of the book seems to be mixed in this way. Maybe parts I and II were just Tolstoy easing us in.

Part III was a real mixed bag and I didn’t find a coherent pop culture parallel as I did in Parts I and II. However, I did notice two related themes that came up again and again:

  • the futile pursuit of things you can never really have, or at least, you can’t keep (youth, glory, status, beauty) and,
  • self-sabotage (marrying someone you know you don’t love, rushing into a battle you know you can’t win, everything Nikolai does).

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume I, Part II: Did you get the memo?

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

THE FIRST OF THE DREADED WAR PARTS.

And it was okay! Fascinating, even. As a Canadian, I’ve read plenty about World War I. I read Fifth Business in grade 11 and The Wars in first year University. Both were stark, realistic portrayals of the horror and confusion of war. Lots of mud and gas. But neither got that deep into the bureaucracy of war. The posturing, the double speak, the sycophancy, the ass-covering…. the memos.

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume I, Part I: Welcome to the SP, bitch

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Leading up to this read-along, I tweeted a joke about Andrei and Pierre being like Ryan and Seth of The OC – a brooding tough guy and an awkward man-child, brought together by circumstances and bromance. Like most offhand jokes I make on Twitter, I was not joking at all, I was deadly serious. Welcome to the S(aint) P(etersburg), bitch.

Before you “um, actually” me, I realize that to truly parallel Ryan and Seth, strong, silent Andrei would have to be the SP newbie, trying to understand the elite society into which he’s been elevated, when in fact bumbling Pierre is the fresh meat. So, the roles are a little mixed up. But hear me out. After I finished Part I, I rewatched the pilot episode of The OC and I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Continue reading

War & Peace & Women

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Today’s the day: start reading! I tried to break you in gently by starting my first post off in French… hopefully you all remember your French as a Second Language classes, or got a translation where the French is, you know, translated!

But before we get to the bored socialites, glittering ballrooms, and affected French accents, not to mention the gifs, let’s get serious for un moment.

Those of you new to Reading in Bed might not know that I did a whole year of reading women authors in 2016. And my 2016 summer read-along was forgotten but foundational 18th century novel Cecilia, by Frances Burney. I must admit, it feels almost like a betrayal to go back to a dead white dude this year.

In doing my research (Googling “Was Tolstoy a dick?”) (he was), I found out that War and Peace wouldn’t have made it to our e-readers in 2017 without the help of a few lovely ladies. Let’s give them a shout out as we get ready to dive in. Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Tag

Alright, readers-along!  We’re mere weeks away from go time, and I have some questions. Respond in the comments, or, in your own post or video.

Tags are very popular on Booktube, and I even made a video of my own today:

Here are the questions, and my answers:

  1. Have you read (or attempted) War and Peace?

Nope. I’ve owned it for a few years, never even cracked it.

  1. What edition and translation are you reading?

Vintage Pevear & Volokhonsy translation on paper, Maude translation on Kobo.

  1. How much do you know about War and Peace (plot, characters, etc)?

Before I watched the adaptation: nothing! I think it’s bizarre that W&P doesn’t have an iconic quote or character, like other classics. Or, maybe it does, and I live under a rock.

  1. How are you preparing (watching adaptations, background reading, etc.)?

I’m doing a lot more preparation than I usually do. I watched the adaptation a few months ago, to familiarize myself with the characters. Russian classics are notorious for many characters, each of whom have several names. I’m also skimming through Give War and Peace a Chance, which would have been a great name for this read-along, and the diaries of Sophia Tolstoy, to confirm that Leo was indeed a dick.

  1. What do you hope to get out of reading War and Peace?

Checking it off the list (you know, that 1,001 Books list I’ve neglected for the past couple years). Reading pleasure – I usually love these big, meaty classics. And if I don’t, I have snarking rights (I insist on reading a book before I make fun of it.) It’s a win-win.

  1. What are you intimidated by?

The Russian name thing, see #4. Also, the Freemasonry stuff, which I assume is to War and Peace as farming is to Anna Karenina – hundreds of pages of booooooring philosophical asides.

  1. Do you think it’s okay to skip the “war” parts?

No!! I wouldn’t even ask, but I’ve seen it come up a few times in discussions. Just no. If you don’t read all the words, you haven’t read the book.

So. You’re all tagged. Let me know where you’re at with W&P, down in the comments, or make your own post or video.

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I challenge you to do this tag!

 

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along

The rumours are true: Reading in Bed’s fourth summer read-along starts July 1, and we’re going to read War and Peace!

I know what you’re thinking: “You’ve done three of these already?” (Yes, go learn everything you ever wanted to know about whales, revolutions, and inheritance law.)

Also, “isn’t there already a War and Peace readalong that started on June 1st?” Well, yes. I’ve been planning this read-along for months. Yamini and Ange’s readalong caught me off guard. I considered packing it in, because they have huge followings, and they’ve both read the book before. What do I have to offer, other than GIFS GALORE (thank you, recent Lifetime adaptation)?

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Anna Pavlova is dubious about the whole endeavor

On the other hand, I thought it would be nice to have a little corner of the internet for War and Peace newbs. We can learn about Russian to English translation, the Napoleonic Wars, and Freemasonry together! And so, I give you the War and Peace Newbies Read-Along!

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Tell me more!

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