Sunday 8 February 2015

War and Peace Readalong: Week One, Book One

This week was the first week of Hanna's War and Peace readalong and I just managed to finish the chapters in time! Despite that though I'm actually really enjoying it, and, who would have thought, War and Peace, actually quite fun reading. 

Answering Hanna's questions as I'm doing three things at once and totally exhausted! One little quibble though - I really don't like it when they translate people's names. A name isn't a word you have to understand so why translate it? If someone's name is Lise it's Lise, not Liza! 

1) What pre-existing ideas did you have about War & Peace?
That it was going to be reeeeally long and dry with a lot about peasants. 

2) On that note, is it as bad as you'd expected? :P
Nowhere near. I'm actually really enjoying it so far. I've heard it described as the soap opera of the age and I can see that. I love all the gossip and weirdly love the amount of characters -there are enough who appear through a few of the storylines to keep it together but enough diversity that I don't feel like I'm just reading about the same people page after page after page!

3) What strategies are you employing?e.g. reading in short bursts, using your Kindle on your commute, taking notes about the characters...

Reading a few chapters a night. Honestly though I'm finding I actually want to keep reading!

4) How are you getting along with your translation?
Initially I hated it. I'm reading the Vintage edition some people have been having issues with as it's constantly in French so you have to read from the footnotes and it's a little bit disjointed. I thought I was going to have to switch but then my uni brain kicked in and I'm ok with the footnotes thing now. 

5) Most and least favourite characters?

I really like Lise but agree with Hanna's point about Tolstoy's constant reference to her facial hair. Why, Tolstoy? Just leave her alone! I also quite like Pierre and Natasha Rostov.Dislike most of the Princes... Vassily, Andrei, Anatole (is that his name?), Andrei and Marya's dad. He sucks quite a lot. 

6) How do you feel about the way women are treated in the book?
I'm not in love with it. So far the women are the characters I like the most (except Anna Mikhailovna - apologies if I've spelled it wrong - I feel like she's probably a bit of a conniving bitch) and I don't like how people keep treating them like eye candy. And I particularly dislike how Tolstoy patronises Lise/Liza. Poor girl, she's so nice to everyone, can they all just stop patting her on the head and being mean to her?!

I'm excited about next week!


  1. Haha, I completely agree with your description of Anna Mikhailovna as a conniving bitch! She's definitely someone I'd be a bit wary of, if I ever were to meet her in person. The reference to Lise's facial hair is a bit unnecessary, I wish there was a little less of that when I think he has enough to cope with! :) xx

  2. I wonder if the names are more to do with how the Russian is transcribed to English, rather than it being that the names have been translated - It happens a LOT with Japanese names, and Russian does use a different alphabet so maybe it's a thing with Russian as well?

    I found it interesting that the references to Lise's facial hair didn't really seem overly negative, if that makes sense? Obviously now there are negative connotations to just mentioning it, but I was wondering when I was reading it what the actual attitudes at the time to that kind of thing would be. She is described as attractive in general (right??? Or am I confusing her with a different character? Hehe), so the constant references were more intriguing to me than anything.

    I'm still thinking that it's the characters who are being patronizing and horrible towards the women, rather than Tolstoy himself, which is something I don't mind that much. We'll see as the book goes on though, I guess...

  3. I don't like Anna, either. I feel that she's constantly butting in and she fails to see when people are annoyed by her. - Maggie @ macarons & paperbacks

  4. Argh, I'm totally with you on the name thing and I just don't understand why it's necessary. My copy of Anna Karenina calls Stiva 'Steve?' I mean, are you JOKING!?

    I'm starting to feel that I'm the only one who likes Anna M. Pierre benefited from her, after all.

    I'm so glad my edition doesn't constantly switch to French. Mine just says - 'and then they started saying THIS, in French:' More by luck than judgement really as I just picked a random edition without looking into it.