Reading for Thursday, June 4
Well, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that I will finish this by 30 June, and I don’ t think I will rush to do so, because it would be a shame to have read the first 11/12 of the book so slowly and then rush through the last 1/12.
But I’ll try not to have a massive long gap like this again . . . there’s a lot of things I couldn’t tell when I started this project – that I’d have a son, that I’d get a new role at work, and all manner of other things that go on in life – and certainly being this busy in June wasn’t one that I foresaw . . .
But anyway, back to War and Peace. This chapter wound up the Napoleon story, as he gets exiled, has a few things to say about Alexander and why he never went on to be the great leader everyone expected.
But my favourite moment is the analogy about the bees. In fact, I think I just like Tolstoy’s analogies in general. Certainly, when you’re trying to convey philosophical ideas, being able to present a good analogy is a great skill to have (I can think of a theologian or two who also do a good job at that).
Even when you’re not quite sure what Tolstoy is talking about, once he describes it with a word picture (like the bees), it all starts to make sense. It’s both sparkling writing and something thoughtful.
I think also what makes it stand out is that he wants to be understood by everyone. He’s not deliberately writing prose that only hard-core readers who hang out in the “literature” section of their bookshop are going to understand.
Here’s to simple but profound writing!