Hasty Ruminations

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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Л. Н. Толстой - Война и мир

Leo Tolstoy
Posted by Hello

Ну, здравствуйте, здравствуйте. Je vois que je vous fais peur, садитесь и рассказывайте.

Well, hello, hello. I see I have frightened you, sit down and tell me all the news.

Opening section, Volume I, part 1, War and Piece by L.N. Tolstoy

Voyna i mir (1865-69; War and Peace) contains three kinds of material--a historical account of the Napoleonic wars, the biographies of fictional characters, and a set of essays about the philosophy of history. Critics from the 1860s to the present have wondered why these three parts were put together, and many have criticized Tolstoy for including the lengthy essays, but readers are still enthusiastic about them.

Tolstoy portrays Napoleon as a buffoon, Tsar Alexander I as an empty shirt, and the Russian general Mikhail Kutuzov as a patient old man. The novel's battle scenes show combat realistically, as sheer chaos. Generals may imagine they can anticipate all contingencies, but battle is really the result of "a hundred million diverse chances" decided on the moment by unforeseeable circumstances.

And you thought we only told jokes!


  • At 3:55 PM, Blogger Greg Finnegan said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 4:00 PM, Blogger Greg Finnegan said…

    I went to a pet food store last night here in Durham, NC. The checkout clerk was a young man, about 20 years old; his nametag identified him as "Grisha", so knowing this is the dimunitive form of my name in Russian, I asked him where he was from. He said, "Kazakhstan", and I said "Nu, vot". ("Well, now" in Russian). He took notice. Then I said, in Russian, "Many years ago, I met a man who worked in Kazakhstan, and he asked me if I wanted to work in Alma Ata [the capital]. How long have you been here?" He answered, in English, "Four years. And I lived in Alma Ata!"
    Kazakhstan is one of the wealthiest of the former soviet republics. It has tremendous mineral resources, oil, grain and livestock. It's a little less than four times the size of Texas.
    We chatted a little longer - I in Russian, he in English - and it was fun for both of us, I think. And, I got some dog food, too!


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