Saturday, September 13, 2008

War and Peace Vol.1 cont.

Continuing from previous post, I would like to highlight some aspects I enjoyed in the first volume. I am no literary critic so I will not do the subject justice. As I embarked on reading I was eager to find depth and meaning somewhere in the many pages of this book. I was not disappointed.

"Tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner."
To understand all is to forgive all.

This books deals with numerous characters - one of the book's challenges. Those characters come in different shapes and forms. Friends and enemies. Young and old. Heroes and villains. Rich and poor. As we get to understand the different characters, somehow the divide that keeps them apart seems to disappear. I feel this is one of the tenets of this book.

It is our understanding of the basic human elements behind people that shatters the perception and unite us in our humanity. Even though the book was set in a different time and place than ours, the author succeeded in making a connection. Maybe I could not relate to 19th century European social or war scenes, but I definitely made a connection with the human traits so articulately displayed.

As Tolstoy himself admitted, history has heroes and villains, yet work of art should only have people.

The blurring of the divide extends beyond personalities. As the plot shifts between the social and the war scenes, the psychology of the characters go in the opposite direction. In the social scene you feel anything but peace. And in the middle of war you get peace:

"the thought that he could be killed or painfully wounded did not occur to him. On the contrary, he felt ever merrier and merrier."

So we find war in peace and peace in war. Such is the irony of life that comfort could breed discontent, while happiness is born out of hardships.

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