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War and Peace - Tolstoy
#2889883 09/13/19 10:00 AM
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Since we have a Russian Literature professor in our midst, and the epic novel has come up for discussion lately, here will reside an official discussion thread.

Dumka1 is our professor. I began reading the novel about a month ago, slowly, and plan on spreading it out over a few months due to the length and time constraints. I'm currently on p350, approximately. As I'm at work and it's not in front of me, I would have to double check the chapter.

Dumka1, how do you envision this discussion? In order of the book? By character? Free for open questions? How do you teach it in your class?

And thank you for your time, input and expertise!


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Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2889888 09/13/19 10:06 AM
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FWIW we had a discussion on the best translation on another thread. I've chosen the Briggs version, Penguin Classics, but that was before the discussion. Which is your favorite, Dumka? And btw, to what level of student are you teaching? University? Upper level class?


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Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2889891 09/13/19 10:09 AM
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Well, the real test here is whether or not it is possible to keep a discussion alive in a forum outside the first section of the PW forums! If we can, it will be cool

I'll have more to say that is relevant on the real topic, presently.


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Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
Tyrone Slothrop #2889892 09/13/19 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Well, the real test here is whether or not it is possible to keep a discussion alive in a forum outside the first section of the PW forums! If we can, it will be cool

I'll have more to say that is relevant on the real topic, presently.

True; must be accustomed to searching "active threads".


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Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2889893 09/13/19 10:13 AM
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I'd personally love to see an analysis of the characters. Might start with Pierre.
What a tool! (So far). It's like he has a Kick Me sign on him.


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Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2889934 09/13/19 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by cmb13
FWIW we had a discussion on the best translation on another thread. I've chosen the Briggs version, Penguin Classics, but that was before the discussion. Which is your favorite, Dumka? And btw, to what level of student are you teaching? University? Upper level class?

My first translation of W&P that I ever read was Rosemary Edmonds' which is still available as a Penguin edition. My favorite translation, is by Pevear and Volokhonsky and I have been collecting their translations of many books. I am open to considering other translations though.

BTW, Wikipedia has a section comparing a few of the translations.

I originally took Russian classes for the sole purpose of reading War and Peace in the original Russian. After many many years of Russian courses, and marrying two Russians (LOL... don't ask), I have only managed to make it about 10 pages into the original novel in Russian. blush

I've been more successful with French and have read all of Proust's novel with a dictionary by my side.


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across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2889942 09/13/19 11:55 AM
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I found it, I found it! I'll check W&P out of the library -


Cathy
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Perhaps "more music" is always the answer, no matter what the question might be! - Qwerty53
Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
jotur #2889944 09/13/19 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by jotur
I found it, I found it! I'll check W&P out of the library -

Hi Cathy, if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, you'll find that the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation is free to borrow and read on the Amazon Kindle (or in the Kindle reader app on a tablet/phone).


[Linked Image]
across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2889947 09/13/19 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by cmb13
I'd personally love to see an analysis of the characters. Might start with Pierre.
What a tool! (So far). It's like he has a Kick Me sign on him.

I really don't think characters can be analysed, at least not completely, until either they are dead or we are already at the end of the book. For example, my understanding of Andrey Bolkonsky was entirely changed by what happened to him at the Battle of Borodino, as he was looking up at the sky.


[Linked Image]
across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2889976 09/13/19 01:11 PM
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Fine....I'll give Pierre a chance!


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Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2889996 09/13/19 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by cmb13
Fine....I'll give Pierre a chance!

Definitely. Don't want to include spoilers, but your opinions of him will likely entirely change by the end!


[Linked Image]
across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2890077 09/13/19 07:15 PM
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Thanks, Tyrone - turns out that's the translation my library has, so I have it in hand!


Cathy
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Perhaps "more music" is always the answer, no matter what the question might be! - Qwerty53
Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
Tyrone Slothrop #2890079 09/13/19 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by cmb13
I'd personally love to see an analysis of the characters. Might start with Pierre.
What a tool! (So far). It's like he has a Kick Me sign on him.

I really don't think characters can be analysed, at least not completely, until either they are dead or we are already at the end of the book. For example, my understanding of Andrey Bolkonsky was entirely changed by what happened to him at the Battle of Borodino, as he was looking up at the sky.

It was the battle of Austerlitz smile But Borodino is important, too, of course.

Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
jotur #2890081 09/13/19 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by jotur
Thanks, Tyrone - turns out that's the translation my library has, so I have it in hand!

There you go! Just the translation I have. I like it best since it seems most faithful, but some people have said there are idiom issues, but I don't really think that's a big issue. Not all idioms are meant to be translated between languages. Anyways, you are all set now to join Anna Pavlovna's soiree on page 1 thumb

Originally Posted by dumka1
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by cmb13
I'd personally love to see an analysis of the characters. Might start with Pierre.
What a tool! (So far). It's like he has a Kick Me sign on him.

I really don't think characters can be analysed, at least not completely, until either they are dead or we are already at the end of the book. For example, my understanding of Andrey Bolkonsky was entirely changed by what happened to him at the Battle of Borodino, as he was looking up at the sky.

It was the battle of Austerlitz smile But Borodino is important, too, of course.

Oh my gosh, I've gotten my Napoleonic battles all switched around! blush Especially as those two battles weren't even remotely close in time! laugh


[Linked Image]
across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2890082 09/13/19 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by cmb13
FWIW we had a discussion on the best translation on another thread. I've chosen the Briggs version, Penguin Classics, but that was before the discussion. Which is your favorite, Dumka? And btw, to what level of student are you teaching? University? Upper level class?


Yes, I'm teaching university students, both undergraduate and graduate. Let's keep the discussion in a free/open format, otherwise it will feel too much like work smile (I do structure each class based on the chapters assigned and the important themes/passages that I feel need to be discussed but I also try to not over control the discussion--but this requires a lot of preparation).
The challenge for the forum discussion will be how to avoid spoilers, if people are at different points in this long book. Any ideas?

I use Pevear and Volokhonsky's translation for teaching because it's the most accurate one and gives me all I need for close analysis, word choice, etc. (except for princess Liza Bolkonsky's "moustache," which is a horrible choice--the Russian word just refers to some lip fuzz). But I heard that this might be not the most enjoyable translation to read because they translate a little too literally. My students have never complained, though. There are all kinds of strong opinions in the world of Slavists re translations of War and Peace (and other big classics). I myself am a native speaker of Russian, so I never had to read the entire novel in English.

And I think it's possible to analyze characters following their development in the novel--that's what we do in a semester-long course. You just analyze what you know about the character at each particular juncture, and it's kind of fun to follow their trajectories, lots of twists and ups and downs.

So, any thoughts/questions on characters are welcome.

Also, I'll try to keep up with this thread but obviously sometimes work/conferences/family stuff takes over my life. But I'm excited, I love this forum--piano and Russian literature, my two big passions, it doesn't get better than that! smile We can also discuss Tolstoy's (much darker) The Kreutzer Sonata later at some point, to combine both.


Last edited by dumka1; 09/13/19 07:48 PM.
Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2890091 09/13/19 08:35 PM
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Don't worry about spoilers for my sake! I'm sure they'll all help as I go along.

Dang 50 years ago was a long time -


Cathy
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Perhaps "more music" is always the answer, no matter what the question might be! - Qwerty53
Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
jotur #2890095 09/13/19 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by jotur
Don't worry about spoilers for my sake! I'm sure they'll all help as I go along.

Dang 50 years ago was a long time -

You last read it 50 years ago? I'll be like a new book then! thumb What are you waiting for then? Anna Pavlovna is welcoming you to her salon smile


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across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
Tyrone Slothrop #2890103 09/13/19 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by jotur
Don't worry about spoilers for my sake! I'm sure they'll all help as I go along.

Dang 50 years ago was a long time -

You last read it 50 years ago? I'll be like a new book then! thumb What are you waiting for then? Anna Pavlovna is welcoming you to her salon smile


Exactly laugh Which is why I say don't worry about the spoilers - the discussion shouldn't wait for me!

What am I waiting for? Hm - a short little mystery to while away my time - an indulgence, for sure.

I may not be able to start until Mon morning - I have a lot of stuff on this weekend.


Cathy
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Perhaps "more music" is always the answer, no matter what the question might be! - Qwerty53
Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2890114 09/13/19 11:11 PM
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Glad you all are in the discussion. Thanks, Dumka, for the support!!! One thing I notice, as I'm reading it for the first time and the names are largely unfamiliar, is it takes a little work to keep the characters straight. Especially some of the minor characters, like those in the army.

I'll come up with some specific topics for discussion as I read. If Cathy is not worried about spoilers, I'll post up some thoughts. If others join then we can go section by section instead. I'll give it a day or two.

Have a great weekend!


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Re: War and Peace - Tolstoy
cmb13 #2890117 09/13/19 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by cmb13
Glad you all are in the discussion. Thanks, Dumka, for the support!!! One thing I notice, as I'm reading it for the first time and the names are largely unfamiliar, is it takes a little work to keep the characters straight. Especially some of the minor characters, like those in the army.

I can never keep the minor characters straight even after 4 reads. But the major characters aren't so hard. You can group them by family and create your own cheat sheet. What might be confusing for non-Russian speakers is the use of all the various diminutives for everyone. Russian has so many different diminutives for every given name! eek

Originally Posted by cmb13
I'll come up with some specific topics for discussion as I read. If Cathy is not worried about spoilers, I'll post up some thoughts. If others join then we can go section by section instead. I'll give it a day or two.

Rather than hopping all over the place, may I suggest we go book by book? There are only 5 if the epilogue is counted as a book. So not so fine grain as chapters or sections, but also not hopping all over either. (And each book is like the size of a small paperback novel! laugh )


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across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
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