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- War and Peace
- War and Peace
- War and Peace: the 10 things you need to know (if you haven't actually read it)
- Tolstoy's War and Peace and the Meaning of Life and Death.
War and Peace
Log In Sign Up. Download Free PDF. Timothy E Quinlan. Download PDF. A short summary of this paper. Tolstoy's War and Peace and the Meaning of Life and DeathUmberto Eco asserts in his wonderfully thought-provoking book On Literature 1 that we humans write and read literature in order to learn how to die. This insight is profound and wise as well as being somewhat haunting and not a little scary. However, the fact that we experience these feelings means that there is not a little truth in what this erudite Italian scholar, critic, professor and novelist says.
I argue in this essay that Leo Tolstoy was doing in War and Peace exactly what Umberto Eco asserts all good literature in fact does. In short then, my argument is that this great Russian novelist was attempting to teach his readers how to die. It is interesting to note that Tolstoy himself, somewhat enigmatically, said of War and Peace that it was "not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less a historical chronicle.
This, I 1 "Stories that are 'already made' also teach us how to die. I believe that one of the principle functions of literature lies in these lessons about fate and death. For it is a book that will only open itself to spiritual understanding, and this is a capacity which no man is born with, but which he can only acquire through special training and special experience. It is good that such to all intents and purposes useless books exist.
They are meant for those queer folk who no longer set much store by the uses, aims, and meaning of present-day civilisation. In an introductory lecture on Anna Karenin this is the spelling he preferred as it apparently makes more sense in Russian than does the name with an "a" added 4 offered the following remarks on Tolstoy's artistic motivation. For an author who preferred form and structure and aesthetics over content and philosophical musings, the following metaphysical observations from Nobokov are uncharacteristically philosophical:What obsessed Tolstoy, what obscured his genius, what now distresses the good reader, was that, somehow, the process of seeking the Truth seemed more important to him than the easy, vivid, brilliant discovery of the illusion of truth through the medium of his artistic genius.
Old Russian Truth was never a comfortable companion; it had a violent temper and a heavy tread. It was not simply truth, not merely everyday pravda but immortal istinanot truth but the inner light of truth. When Tolstoy did happen to find it in himself, in the splendour of his creative imagination, then, almost unconsciously, he was on the right path. What does his tussle with the ruling Greek-Catholic Church matter, what importance do his ethical opinions have, in the light of this, or that imaginative passage in any of his novels.
Essential truth, istina, is one of the few words in the Russian language that cannot be rhymed. It has no verbal mate, no verbal associations, it stands alone and aloof, with only a vague suggestion of the root "to stand" in the vast brilliancy of its immemorial rock. Most Russian writers have been tremendously interested in Truth's exact whereabouts and essential properties Tolstoy marched straight at it, head bent and fists clenched, and found the place where the cross had once stood, or found -the image of his own self.
These characters were so well depicted that they seemed to me to jump off the page. Once I had got over the strangeness of the Russian names, heavy with patronymics, I could not put down this tome of a book. I was also intrigued by the wide use of French by the nobles in this novel. I soon learned that this was a tradition among the Russian nobility from the time of Catherine the Great who made French the official language of her court because she thought Russian somewhat barbaric as a language and that French was far nobler.
Indeed, I remember coming across the fact that the Russian nobles had so taken to French that they often spoke it better than they did the language of their fellow Russians. But this is all incidental information. What I intend to tease out here in this short essay are Tolstoy's motivations for writing and how he transformed that particular vision or philosophy of life into passionate words that would captivate and enthral his readers.
In fact, we shall see that he was most animated about his beliefs and that in them we can find a sort of nineteenth century "self-help" philosophy that he communicated most artistically and effectively in his writing. One is the love story of young Countess 5 Nabokov p. Maybe in the end, like these poets, we will end up believing that it is not a sweet and fitting thing to die for one's country? After leading his valiant but futile charge against the French, PrinceAndrei Nikolayevich Bolkonsky is wounded badly, and his thoughts are almost a stream of consciousness, prefiguring in an embryonic way the method of our own James Joyce.
In Irish literature, it is associated mostly with James Joyce. It is interesting to note that the term itself was coined by the American psychologist William James as far back as Coleridge who said that the whole spiritual thrust in the human heart and mind was towards unity and that the goal of spirituality was to see "the unity behind the multeity.
Then one is reminded of the words of the teacher in The Book of Ecclesiastes or Qoheleth from the Old Testament where the author declares again and again that "all is vanity," and "vanity of vanities, all is vanity. London: Penguin. Oscar Wilde also repeated it thus: "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars,"For him the soul is on the quest for the Kingdom of God, which really the peasants understood more truly and authentically than the rich.
In short, what drives humankind to evil in all its multifarious forms? It could be hypothesised that the roots of all such evil lie in the unconscious whose drives and instincts have us in their grip. It is perhaps these unconscious urges that drive humankind to war.
It could, therefore, be argued that it was these unconscious urges that writers like Tolstoy gave concrete expression to in their novels by way of storyline and plot as well as in the more philosophical sections of those written works. It was in such unconscious urges at any rate, he believed, that the inherent fatalism of history lay. It is to a discussion of that fatalism we now turn. Fatalism versus Free WillTolstoy's attitude to history is the exact opposite of ThomasCarlyle's concept of hero-worship.
For Carlyle, chaotic events demanded that those whom he called 'heroes' take control over the competing forces erupting within society. While not denying the importance of economic and practical explanations for events, he saw these forces as 'spiritual' -the hopes and aspirations of people that took the form of ideas, and were often ossified into ideologies "formulas" or "isms", as he called them.
In Carlyle's view, only dynamic individuals could master events and direct these spiritual energies effectively: as soon as ideological 'formulas'replaced heroic human action, society became dehumanised.
In other words, what we see here in Tolstoy is a philosophical fatalism. Things are ordained to be as they are. One can hear his characters echo this philosophy throughout this epic novel.
Almost like Luther each of them seems to be saying "I can do no other" -"Ich kann nicht anders. The book describes how fate controls history, and how people have little control in the sequence of events while playing their part in the grander scheme of things. As per Taoist principles, all someone can ever truly control is their own mind. All of nature is working towards an eventual triumph of truth, and that truth is the driving force of necessity, against which it is stupid for humankind to resist or oppose.
To this extent, then, the second part of the Epilogue of War and Peace is entirely devoted to the problem of freewill versus this driving force of necessity. Against this backdrop, he paints the lives of his five great families. Tolstoy is arguing that before the beauty and truth of Russia that whole might of the Napoleonic Great Army crumbled away to nothing. The spirit of simplicity, goodness and truth, which lies at the heart of the Russian nation, Tolstoy argues, overcame the brutal power of Napoleon.
This brutal power of conquest and oppression ignored simplicity, and because it ignored simplicity, it was essentially rooted in evil. This would seem to be partly the philosophy that underpinnedwhat War and Peace. The Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army, General Kutuzov, according to Prince Andrei, "knows that there is something stronger and more important than his own will -the inevitable march of events, and he has the brains to see them and grasp their significance, and seeing that significance can abstain from meddling, from following his personal desires and aiming at something else.
It had meaning only as part of a whole of which he was at all times conscious. The lives of the great and the good really did not infringe on the concerns of ordinary human beings for our author:In The Concept of SelfThe concept of the self is a very recent one indeed. There have been wonderful books written on its emergence from ancient to more modern times, e. However, here I am referring to the concern with self as individual who owns and possesses things and objects and power and prestige as a result of industrialization.
Humankind is now the owner of property and with ownership comes a new sense of the self, a new sense of the individual. Indeed, one could argue strongly that the emergence of this self was strongly middle class and corresponded not alone to having wealth, but also to being educated in a civilized and refined way. Anyway, Tolstoy is essentially a psychologist and an existentialist. He, too, as an aristocrat is interested in self-development.
I have already indicated that our Russian author walks through his novels, and in that the two central characters -Pierre and Prince Andrei -in their struggles to get to know themselves are essentially he. Here is Pierre engaged in self-reflection, and we can rest assured that this is Tolstoy reflecting on his own sense of self:In the eyes of the world Pierre was a fine gentlemen, the rather blind and ridiculous husband of a distinguished wife, a clever eccentric who did nothing but was no trouble to anyone, a capital fellow -while at the same time in the depths of Pierre's soul a complex and arduous process of inner development was going on, revealing much to him and bringing him many spiritual doubts and joys.
Here the music moves 29 In Sources of the Self: the Making of the Modern Identity, Taylor attempts "to articulate and write a history of the modern identity" Taylor, ix. Interestingly, Alison Weir argues that Michel Foucault and Taylor are two of the most important contemporary philosophers of modern identity, and says that they offer us two very different descriptions and analyses of modern identities. See Weir , the prince to commune with something eternal, with the true meaning of life: The sense of the divine is here linked with music and music appreciation: Aristotle wrote about happiness in one of his most influential books, the Nicomachean Ethics, where he presents a theory of happiness that is still relevant today, over 2, years later.
He claims therein that nearly everyone would agree that happiness -or eudaimonia as he calls it -is the end which meets all the basic needs and desires of the human person. It is easy enough to see that we desire money, pleasure, and honour only because we believe that these goods will make us happy.
It seems that all other goods are a means towards obtaining that happiness, while happiness is always an end in itself. A modern translation of Aristotle's eudaimonia is the word "flourishing. This is all certainly in keeping with Pierre's philosophy on happiness as adumbrated above that "one must believe in the possibility of happiness in order to be happy.
He read both to broaden his mind -that is learn new and interesting facts -as well as to deepen his knowledge of life, that is, essentially to acquire wisdom. Only those who could see a meaning in their lives when literally everything was taken away were the ones who could possibly survive these hellish death camps. That's why Frankl called his therapy Logotherapy, a therapy that searched for meaning in the client's life.
If we fail to do so we will despair and die. Every day of our lives we choose meaning because if we choose meaninglessness we end up in the pits of depression and could very easily become suicidal -another subject with which much of Russian literature concerned itself in the nineteenth century.
Tolstoy would be totally accepting of much modern psychotherapy, but most especially the sentiments and beliefs of Dr V. Frankl as well as with the tenets of his Logotherapy. What I have been about in this essay is showing how literature can help us engage with the big questions in life, or how to grapple and struggle with them, to speak more metaphorically. We do not just need religion to do this task for us, though for some that may help, as Tolstoy is also keen to argue for some of his characters in this great novel and others.
We have also seen how pondering the big questions is central to the main task of life -literally the task of making sense of what our earthly existence is all about.
War and Peace
There are novels. There are long Russian novels. William Nickell , assistant professor in Slavic Languages and Literatures , is hoping to convert more readers into lovers of Tolstoy. His forthcoming companion to War and Peace aims to make the novel more accessible for modern audiences. He shared some of the reasons behind this campaign with Courtney C. War and Peace is what the author wanted and was able to express, in the form in which it is expressed. The great twentieth-century Russian author Isaac Babel said that when he read Tolstoy, he felt as if the world was writing itself.
Look Inside Reading Guide. Reading Guide. And as the novel progresses, these characters transcend their specificity, becoming some of the most moving—and human—figures in world literature. Leo Tolstoy — was born in central Russia. After serving in the Crimean War, he retired to his estate and devoted himself to writing, farming, and raising his large family.
War and Peace. Leo Tolstoy. This eBook was designed and published by Planet PDF. For more free eBooks visit our Web site at us97redmondbend.org
War and Peace: the 10 things you need to know (if you haven't actually read it)
War and Peace opens in the Russian city of St. We also meet the sneaky and shallow Kuragin family, including the wily father Vasili, the fortune-hunter son Anatole, and the ravishing daughter Helene. We are introduced to the Rostovs, a noble Moscow family, including the lively daughter Natasha, the quiet cousin Sonya, and the impetuous son Nicholas, who has just joined the army led by the old General Kutuzov. Both Andrew and Nicholas go to the front. Andrew is wounded at the Battle of Austerlitz, and though he survives, he is long presumed dead.
We are introduced to the major families through the vehicle of a soiree at the Anna Pavlovna's home, a name-day celebration at the Rostovs, and a description of the isolated existence of the Bolkonskys at their country seat. Prince Andrey and Pierre discuss their futures and what they seek in life, both young men idealizing the"man of destiny" who is soon to invade Russia. Old Count Bezuhov dies, leaving Pierre wealthy, titled, and the most eligible bachelor in Petersburg. They each discover the ineffectuality of the individual in a mass situation.
Tolstoy's War and Peace and the Meaning of Life and Death.
She speaks of Napoleon as the Antichrist scourging Europe, asserting that the lofty-souled Alexander I must save them all against the"hydra of revolution" Bonaparte represents. Easily changing the subject, she tells Prince Vassily how charming his three children are, and that she knows a wealthy heiress to match with his profligate son, Anatole. The lady is Princess Marya Bolkonsky, who lives in the country and is dominated by her old father. Her brother Prince Andrey will appear here this evening with his wife Liza.
War and Peace , historical novel by Leo Tolstoy , originally published as Voyna i mir in — War and Peace begins in the Russian city of St. Most of the characters are introduced at a party, including Pierre Bezukhov , Andrey Bolkonsky , and the Kuragin and Rostov families. Much of the novel focuses on the interactions between the Bezukhovs, Bolkonskys , and the Rostovs. Andrey is then injured at the Battle of Austerlitz and presumed dead, until he arrives home to his wife, Lise, who dies during childbirth soon after. Pierre, meanwhile, has married Helene Kuragina. She is unfaithful to him, and Pierre duels with the other man, almost killing him.
Who is the hero?
It is regarded as one of Tolstoy's finest literary achievements and remains an internationally praised classic of world literature. The novel chronicles the French invasion of Russia and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society through the stories of five Russian aristocratic families. Portions of an earlier version, titled The Year ,  were serialized in The Russian Messenger from to before the novel was published in its entirety in Tolstoy said War and Peace is "not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less a historical chronicle.
ГЛАВА 89 Лучи утреннего солнца едва успели коснуться крыш Севильи и лабиринта узких улочек под. Колокола на башне Гиральда созывали людей на утреннюю мессу. Этой минуты ждали все жители города.
На каждой руке всего по три пальца, скрюченных, искривленных. Но Беккера интересовало отнюдь не это уродство. - Боже ты мой, - пробормотал лейтенант из другого конца комнаты.