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June 9, 2009

war and peace

I like to mix the usual fare of "civic engagement" and current events that dominate this blog with a smattering of culture. But I don't think there will be much of that this month. I'm just 240 pages into the recent translation of War and Peace by Pevear and Volokhnosky. If I have anything to say about Tolstoy, it will probably be after I'm done. For now, I'm having enough trouble keeping the characters straight. Is Nikolushka the same as Nikolenka, and is he also Count Nikolai Ilyich? (Yes.) Is Count Nikolai the same as Prince Nikolai? (Nope.) Who is the brother of Princess Elizaveta Karlovna (a.k.a. Liza, Lizaveta, or Lise), and is he also the brother of Princess Elena Vassilievna (a.k.a. Lelya, Helene)? (Absolutely not.) Sometimes I'm tempted to just let it all wash over me, but I've found that's almost always a mistake when you read sprawling 19th-century novels. Sooner or later, there will be some crucial connection that makes everything suspenseful and significant, if only you noticed it. So was that Pyotr Kirillovich (Pierre) or Pyotr Ilyich (Petya) whom Natalya (Natasha, Natalie) met in Moscow?

June 9, 2009 7:50 AM | category: none


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