“The most strong, indissoluble, burdensome, and constant connection with other in people is the so-called power over other people, which in its true meaning is only the greatest dependence on them.”
It was really a year and 5 months - of one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. And by great I mean great in theme and scope. Unmatched in scope, possibly.
I won’t spoil it, still, though there’s so much in the last volume and the first epilogue to talk about plot-wise, what the characters discover through what they go through, but the eventual destiny of those characters should be yours to discover.
The second epilogue is dedicated to Tolstoy’s view of history, basically that there is no such thing as freedom. He doesn’t go so far as to call is predestination as he does in the Appendix, which was written before the Epilogue, but he argues that there are no absolutes. Without those absolutes, be it freedom or dependence, any study of history is doomed to be partial, incorrect. As he states, we can never know concretely why large groups of people do anything. One man, Napoleon, is not responsible for all that happened during this time, though historians want to make it so.
Brilliantly, the breadth of this book, the humanity, the god’s-eye-view, are the best argument for his thesis. It’s incredible to say, but his characters are so real we don’t know them; like our friends and family we end up feeling so close to them that we can guess at, yet still be surprised by, their actions. He has created true people here, which is the greatest feat. They are not simple, not needlessly complex. With a few lucky ones, we see them grow into themselves, and can feel compassion for how they got there. They are fascinating.
I’ll miss them. I have a feeling I’ll be visiting them again. Maybe doing some more writing as things occur to me. And maybe with those I'll just post spoiler alerts.
There’s so much more to say, but really only one thing – read the book. Then we’ll talk.
4 months ago