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review 2016-02-26 02:14
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

"My father had a small Estate in Nottinghamshire; I was the Third of five Sons."

 

As Samuel Johnson stated, Gulliver's Travels is a work "so new and strange, that it filled the reader with a mingled emotion of merriment and amazement."  One must remember that at the time of Gulliver's Travels, readers had rarely encountered prose fiction in the form of stories, let along the fantastical stories and adventures of Gulliver.  They didn't quite know how to respond.

 

In the last chapter of the this book, its purpose is laid out to the reader, that Swift's "principal Design was to inform, and not amuse thee.", a deviation in form, since most medieval writers sought to do both.  The Roman lyric poet, Horace, stated that, "The poet who pleases everyone is the one who blends the useful with the sweet, simultaneously amusing and informing the reader."  Likewise, Thomas More in his Utopia states that his book is "A Truly Golden Handbook, No Less Beneficial than Entertaining"; Shakespeare seeks also to entertain and instruct, and The Cantebury Tales are described as "tales of best sentence and sola", expressing the standard medieval definition of literature which both informs and gives pleasure.  So why does Swift no longer want to amuse readers?  Why does he choose to change the medieval model of how literature was represented?  If his readers have not noticed the festering undercurrents of judgement within the story, it's as if Swift was determined emphasis the seriousness of the work.  As throughout his story, he gives the English people strengths that do not exist, so he also gives the reader amusement, where amusement does not exist.   No wonder people were puzzled by his unique representation.

 

Born in Dublin  in 1667, Swift spent the early years of his life moving between his hometown and London, attempting to gain a footing both in politics and the Church.  His first position was with Sir William Temple a retired English diplomat who was writing his memoirs.  Swift formed a close relationship with Temple and when he died, Swift hoped to gain a position at Canterbury or Westminister through King William, but the position never materialized.  Amid various other disappointments, Swift continued his travels between Ireland and England, and during these years, he produced A Tale in a Tub and The Battle of the Books, gaining a reputation as a writer.  Gulliver's Travels was published later in his career, in 1726.

 

Mural depicting Gulliver surrounded by

the citizens of Lilliput

source Wikipedia

 

Episodic in nature, Gulliver's Travels follows Lemuel Gulliver as he visits various unknown civilizations and learns their ways while gently comparing their societies with those of his own.  I say gently because Gulliver makes his musings appear as a gentle examination, but Swift has other ideas. One doesn't have to look very hard to see that this work is a sweeping condemnation of the human race.

 

Gulliver first lands in Lilliput where the society is diminutive in stature compared to Gulliver's enormity.  Initially accepted by the Lilliputians because of his good behaviour, he eventually upsets them by refusing to help them conquer another province and he is forced to escape.

 

Gulliver exhibited to the Brobdingnag

Farmer - Richard Redgrave

source Wikipedia

 

His second adventure is nearly an inversion of the first, in that this time Gulliver is small and, landing in Brobdingnag, soon realizes the gigantic features of its inhabitants.  While being poorly treated by his first family, Gulliver eventually comes to the Queen who treats him reasonably well and he is able to converse with the King.  The King, however, becomes unhappy with his description of the state of Europe, in particular their use of guns and cannons. 

 

Gulliver discovers Laputa,

the flying island

J.J. Granville

source Wikipedia

 

The next adventure includes the flying island of Laputa, which is a rather bizarre place.  The inhabitants are devotees of the arts of mathematics and music only, but not only fail to employ them for any benefit to society, they also, through self-deception, are blindly unable to recognize their failures.

 

The land of the Houyhnhnms is Gulliver's fourth and final stop, a land of wise and noble horses, but he also encounters a race called Yahoos, a race very much like himself yet more filthy, vulgar, bestial and stupid.  Although they at first recognize him as a Yahoo, the Houyhnhnms finally take to Gulliver, impressed with his cleanliness and ability to reason.  Yet in spite of the relational ties he makes in this land and his desire to remain among these highly civilized beasts, the horses foresee a danger in Gulliver's presence and send him off in a boat.  When he arrive home, our protagonist is a changed man.  Disgusted with the "Yahoos" of his country, he is barely able to live in their company, finally choosing a rather secluded life.

 

Gulliver taking final leave of

the Houyhnhnms (1769)

Sawrey Gilpin

source Wikipedia

 

Through Gulliver's interaction with the Liliputans and the Brobdingnagans, Swift satirizes British politics.  The Liliputans are only concerned with petty and trivial problems, and in their self-aggrandization can only see themselves as governors of the whole world.  Yet while Liliput represents a small view of man, Brobdingnag represents a large one.  As in Liliput, Swift explores the contrasts between liberty and law, but now the situation is reversed as Gulliver is in miniature in a land of giants.  The island of Laputa is built upon philosophy and it's inhabitants are seen as Swift's critque of scientism, or that the only way to true knowledge is through scientific disciplines.  Only what can be seen and measured is taken into account, but, of course, this leaves no room to examine the soul.  The land of the Houyhnhnms is perhaps the most fascinating part of the voyages.  In this land the beasts are the civilized society and the Yahoos, who are human, are savages.  The Houyhnhnms live by reason and that reason, working within nature, give rise to their idyllic existence.  Gulliver believes that if he lives long enough with his friends, this virtue will rub off on him, but in fact the horses see his reason as imperfect and therefore he is more dangerous than a Yahoo who has no reason at all.  In reality, Gulliver is half-way between both species, halfway between pure passion and pure reason.

 

Apparently both Sir Walter Scott and William Thackeray were shocked and repulsed by Gulliver's fourth voyage, yet there is still argument as to whether Swift's work was a satire in the form of Horace, where he is only lightly satirizing Gulliver's idealism, or the heavier satire of Juvenal, whereupon his writing is a vitriolic, sarcastic diatribe condemning the human race.  I'll leave it to the reader to decide.  Yet perhaps Swift himself can shed light on his intentions:

"I have ever hated all Nations professions and Communityes and all my love is towards individualls for instance I hate the tribe of Lawyers, but I love Councellor such a one, and Judge such a one for so with Physicians (I will not speak of my own trade) Soldiers, English, Scotch, French; and the rest but principally I hate and detest that animal called man, although I hartily love John, Peter, Thomas and so forth.  This is the system upon which I have governed myself for many years (but do not tell) and so I shall go on until I have done with them I have got materials toward a treatise, proving the falsity of that definition animal rationale [rational animal], and to show it would be only rationis capax [capable of reason].  Upon this great foundation of Misanthropy (though not in Timon's manner) The whole building of my Travells is erected.  And I will never have peace of mind until all honest men are of my Opinion."

While I thought Swift's satire brilliant, and his characterizations mostly just, I felt that he focused only on the negative aspects of human nature.  If Swift really saw the world only through a lense of disappointment, treachery, selfishness, and deceit, yet missed the integrity, loyalty, virtues and goodwill of the flip-side of human nature, that is truly a tragedy. 

 

Read for my Classics Club Spin #8, Fariba from Exploring Classics joined me in reading this one.  Here is her most excellent review.  Thanks for the company, Fariba!

 

(And further reflections by Fariba on Gulliver's Travels)

 

 

 

 

© Cleo and Classical Carousel, Years 2014 - 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cleo and Classical Carousel with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

 

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review 2015-08-17 20:43
Utopia by Thomas More

"The moste vyctoryous and tryumphante Kynge of Englande, Henry theight of that name, in all royal vertues Prince moste peerlesse, hadde of late in contrauersie with the right hyghe and myghtie king of Castell weightye matters, and of greate importaunce; for the debatement and final determination wherof the kinges Maieste sent me Ambassadour into flaunders, ioined in commission, and whom the kinges maiestie of late, to the greate reioysyng of all men, did preferre to the office of maister of the Rolles."

 

I certainly promise not to write this review in Middle English but I thought I'd give you a taste of it.  And, no, I didn't read the complete book in ME; I was able to get through about 1/5 of it and then changed to a modern English version.  And most happily, I might add.  The original Utopia was written in Latin, in a fine emulation of Ciceronian Latin, yet More took it a step further in humour and playfulness.

 

Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor

Hans Holbein the Younger

source Wikipedia

 

 

Born in London in 1478, Thomas More was a very learned man and, if he had been able to follow his inclinations, would have been destined for the church.  His father, however, had other aspirations for him and, being a dutiful son, he conceded to his wishes and chose the law as his profession.  Unexpectedly, he was a marvellous success as a lawyer.  He soon had a thriving business and his extraordinary aptitude quickly brought him under scrutiny of the "higher-ups". The political positions he was eventually offered were always accepted reluctantly, and More had a life-long dilemma with reconciling his loyalty to his sovereign and his loyalty as a Christian to his conscience.

 

As a Catholic, More opposed the Protestant Reformation.  Serving as Lord Chancellor under King Henry VIII, he was accused of inflicting harsh treatment on heretics, but he denied the accusations.  What is interesting is that his son-in-law at the time, was enticed by "Lutheran heresies", and More's reaction when speaking with his daughter, was surprisingly temperate: "Meg, I have borne a long time with thy husband.  I have reasoned and argued a long time with him and still given him my poor fatherly counsel; but I perceive none of all this can call him home again.  And, therefore, Meg, I will no longer dispute with him, not yet will I give him over; but I will go another way to work, and get me to God and pray for him."

 

A man of honour and high standards, he would not even compromise for his family. When one of his sons-in-law expected preferential treatment because of More's office, More stated, "If my father whom I dearly love were on one side and the devil, whom I sincerely hate, were on the other, the devil should have his rights."

 

With King Henry VIII's decision to divorce his queen, Catherine, More's power began to unravel.  While remaining quiet publicly, he continued to support the Pope over the King, and when he was required to sign a letter asking the Pope to annul the marriage, More refused.  Henry soon began to isolate him. Eventually when More openly refused to acknowledge the annulment, Henry took action, arresting More for treason.  He was decapitated on July 6, 1535. When the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, heard of his death, he said, "Well, this we will say, if we had been the master of such a servant, we would rather have lost the best city of our dominions than have lost such a counsellor."

 

Map: This picture was taken from
 one of the first editions of the book, 
which is published online at

the Bibliotheca Augustana

 

 

Probably inspired by his close friend, Desiderius Erasmus, Thomas More wrote Utopia in 1516 during an embassy to the Netherlands.  A very brief book, yet with a complex structure, More used himself and a character called Raphael Hythloday to present political philosophies that range from the insightful and wise, to the curiously peculiar.  In Book I, More crafts the setting for Utopia and then, through his character and Hythloday's, offers a discourse on the evils and ills prevalent in European society.  While having a parallel set-up to Plato's Republic (Morton = Cephalus; Hythlodaye = Socrates; lawyer = Thrasymachus), More adopts occurrences from his own day to structure the framework of Utopia and construct a more politically and socially organized text.   More uses this venue to chastize the actions of kings who use the country's money for unproductive warmongering, and especially vilifies the practice of hanging thieves on the gallows, often for very petty infractions.  In Book II, More offers a detailed description of Utopia, its inhabitants and its societal structure. The Utopian community supports common property, slavery and religious tolerance.  Agriculture is the most treasured occupation but each Utopian is required to learn some other trade as well.  Finery is frowned upon, pre-marital sex and adultery punishable, and while atheists are allowed in Utopia, they are shunned because their views are counter-productive to the Utopian community.

 

More & Hythloday discuss Utopia

source

 

 

Scholars are still in disagreement as to More's purpose when writing this book. On one hand, some purport that More's intent was to write and endorse a treatise on communism and its implementation.   Others scholars differ in opinion; while the book had a basis in the condition of European politics, it was nevertheless written tongue-in-cheek.  Brewer in his Reign of Henry VIII, appears to support this view:

 

"Though the Utopia was not to be literally followed ---- was no more than an abstraction at which no one would have laughed more heartily than More himself, if interpreted too strictly.  Utopia might serve to show a corrupt Christendom what good could be effected by the natural instincts of men, when following the dictates of natural prudence and justice.  If kings could never be elective in Europe, Utopia might show the advantage to a nation where kings were responsible to some other will than their own.  If property could never be common, Utopia might teach men how great was the benefit to society, when the state regarded itself as created for the wellbeing of all, and not of a class of a favoured few ......."

 

 

C.S. Lewis, a medieval and renaissance scholar, takes More's book as a light holiday work, and this summation rings true, as More make some comments himself that were obscure, but appeared to poke fun at his work.  Lewis states:

 

 "..... it appears confused only so long as we are trying to get out of it what it never intended to give.  It becomes intelligible and delightful as soon as we take it for what it is ---- a holiday work, a spontaneous overflow of intellectual high spirits, a revel of debate, paradox, comedy and (above all) of invention, which starts many hare and kills none .....  There is a thread of serious thought funning through it, an abundance of daring suggestions, several back-handed blows at European institutions .......  But he does not keep our noses to the grindstone.  He says many things for the fun of them, surrendering himself to the sheer pleasure of imagined geography, imagined language, and imagined institutions.  That is what readers whose interests are rigidly political do not understand: but everyone who has ever made an imaginary map responds at once."

 

If we take into account some of the regional names in this work, the purpose may become clearer still.  "Utopia" literally means, "no place"; "Achoria" means "Nolandia"; "Polyleritae" means "Muchnonsense"; "Macarenses" means "Happiland"; and the river "Anydrus" means "Nowater".  Even Raphael's last name, Hythlodaeus, translates as "dispenser of nonense".  Was More being ironic or serious?  I doubt we can ever know for sure.

 

In spite of the obscurity of the book and some of the controversies surrounding More, I loved both the author and this work.  He appeared to treat both his wives well, quite clearly loved his children, was well thought of and respected, and in spite of his position, chose to write a story that not only amused his readers, but allowed them to explore human nature and come to their own conclusions with regard to universal issues.  Thomas More is a man to be admired and Utopia is certainly a book to be read!

 

 

  • translated by Clarence H. Miller (English translation)
  • also Oxford Press "student" edition edited by J. Churton Collins (Middle English translation)

 

Further reading:  

 

 

 

 

 

© Cleo and Classical Carousel, Years 2014 - 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cleo and Classical Carousel with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

 

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review 2014-12-09 19:10
Defence Speeches by Cicero

"I imagine you must be wondering, members of the jury, why it is that, when there are so many leading orators and men of the highest rank present here in court, I of all people should have stood up to address you; for neither in age, nor in ability, nor in authority do I bear comparison with these men who have remained seated."

 

So begins, Cicero's first speech, Pro Roscio Amerino, his first speech delivered in a criminal court when he was a young 26-year-old defence advocate.  While Defence Speeches contains five speeches that Cicero gave during the years 80 B.C. to 52 B.C., this speech is my favourite.  It shows Cicero as a fresh, young advocate, willing to take chances, yet also using his wiles to sway listeners to his point of view.  His rhetoric is at once firm and decisive, yet also almost self-effacing at times, but in an astute and cunning manner that only serves to increase his power.  His client, Sextus Roscius, was, in the end, acquitted of patricide, and this case helped begin Cicero's journey to rhetorical fame.

 

 

 

The defence speech, Pro Milone, is one of Cicero's most famous, as he defended Titus Annius Milo against the charge of murdering the tyrant, Publius Clodius Pulcher.  It was an unusual defeat for him, but it is one speech for which we have an independent account from a 1st century scholar, Quintus Asconius Pedianus.  Because of the secondary source, we can target possible inconsistencies in Cicero's presentation of the facts, which are backed by other evidence.  It is said that because the trial was so politically volatile and emotions so unstable, Cicero had to perform under unusual circumstances.  Ancient sources disagree as to the cause of Cicero's less than stellar performance (some say threats from Clodian supporters, some say the soldiers stationed around the forum made him uneasy) but the end result was a vote of 38 to 13 of "guilty" and Milo was sent into exile.

 

In spite of the defeat, Milo did not seem to hold a grudge.  When Cicero sent a copy of this defence speech, written at a later date, to Milo, Milo joking replied that it was fortunate that a speech in that form had never been heard in court because he would then not be enjoying the wonderful mullets in Massalia (Marseilles - his place of exile).

 

 

Cicero denounces Cataline (1882-88)

fresco by Caesare Maccari

source Wikipedia

 

 

If one is familiar with the history of Clodius, one can only conclude that Milo did the empire a favour by getting rid of him.  Suspected of committing incest with his sister, Clodius employed gangs to terrorize the citizens of Rome and the surrounding country, for his own political and monetary benefit.  In 63 B.C., he was able to exile Cicero for his involvement in the illegal execution of five Catlinarian conspirators, and while Cicero was away, proceeded to demolish his elegant house, attempting to have the ground consecrated to deny any further right to build upon the site.  Upon Cicero's return, Clodius' gangster tactics continued, as he regularly had his gangs harass Cicero's workmen as they attempted to re-build his home.

 

Also included in this book are the speeches, Pro MurenaPro Archia, and Pro Caelio, where he defends against electoral malpractice, illegal exercise of citizen rights, and civil disturbance, respectively.

 

From some of these speeches, the reader is given a window into Rome during its more turbulent times, and one realizes, among the grandeur, learning and sophistication, there is continual political unrest and moral decay, boiling in a cesspool of men grasping wildly for prestige and power. It's a book that probably should be read in "doses", but the value of the historical import and the insight into human ambition cannot be underestimated.

 

 

 

© Cleo and Classical Carousel, Years 2014 - 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cleo and Classical Carousel with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

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review 2014-12-09 05:31
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope

"In the latter days of July in the year 185--, a most important question was for ten days hourly asked in the cathedral city of Barchester, and answered every hour in various ways ---- Who was to be the new bishop?"

 

War has broken out in the city of Barchester.  The different factions are preparing by arming themselves with disingenuous weapons.  Tongues are being exercised, rapier wit is being sharpened, and soon a victor will be declared.

 

The new chaplain, Mr. Obadiah Slope has arrived in Barchester with the new bishop Proudie and his termagant wife .  Whilst Mr. Slope shows the high opinion he holds of himself, the clergy and certain townspeople take a strong dislike to his oily sycophancy and the fight is on.  Will Archdeacon Grantly be able to run Mr. Slope out of Barchester? Or will Mr. Slope become the new Dean?  Yet his marriage to the widow Eleanor Bold, Mr. Septimus Harding's daughter, is a certainty.  Or is it?  Bertie Stanhope, the indolent son of Dr. Vessey Stanhope, is a contender for her affections but, oops ….. into the picture strides Mr. Arabin, vicar of St. Ewold and Grantly's ally, to further muddy the marital waters.  And, as for the battle over the appointment of the new warden of Hiram's Hospital, will Mr. Harding recover this honoured position, or will Mr. Quiverful triumph over his competitor, effectively providing his wife and children with the support they had heretofore been lacking?

 

 

In a town amongst characters, where black can seem white, and up suddenly down, the romping hilarity of the story firmly keeps the reader engaged and attentive.   Trollope, himself had a personal love for his masterpiece:  "In the writing of Barchester Towers I took great delight.  The bishop and Mrs. Proudie were very real to me, as were also the troubles of the archdeacon and the loves of Mr. Slope."  Sadly his publishers were not initially in accord, claiming the novel to be full of "vulgarity and exaggeration."  How fortunate, in spite of this initial critique, that this novel has captured the imagination and humour of readers worldwide for nearly 160 years, and has given the people of Barchester an immorality that was originally in jeopardy.

 

The Barsetshire Chronicles

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review 2014-12-06 21:09
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

"Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes ….."

 

I am very hesitant to even attempt to review this book.  How can one do even the slightest bit of justice to an epic like this? How can one even touch on the depth of the myriad of characters, not to mention communicate the complexities of a war that even the participants had difficulty distinguishing?  And how do you review such an epic tale without producing an epic review?

 

War and Peace follows the lives of five families of Tsarist Russia:  the Rostovs, the Bolkonskis, the Bezukhovs, the Kuragins and the Drubetskoys, their interactions and struggles, and the afflictions suffered by each set among the events leading up to and during Napoleon's invasive campaign in the year of 1812.  Pierre Bezukhov is the illegitimate son of a nobleman and, through a series of circumstances, inherits a great  fortune.  His new position in society chafes against his natural character of simplicity, naiveté, and introspection. The Rostov family is a well-respected family, yet are in financial difficulties. The son, Nikolai, joins the Russian army, his brother, Petya, will soon follow, and their daughter, Natasha, a joyful free-spirit, becomes attached to a number of men throughout the story.  Sophia, an orphaned niece, is raised by the Rostovs, and shows a steady and loyal character as she pledges her love to Nikolai early in the novel.  Bolkonsky senior is a crochety old count who attempts to control his son, Andrei, and terrorizes his daughter, Maria.

 

And so begins the dance between the cast of characters, sometimes a smooth waltz, and at others a frenzied tango.  There is contrast between generations, between old and new ideas, between life and its purpose, yet Tolstoy is adept as showing the gray tones overshadowing the blacks and whites; that situations are not always as they appear.

 

Tolstoy's highest attribute is his ability to peel off the layers of each person and look into his soul. His characters are crafted with such depth and such human motivations that the reader can only marvel at his skill.  And not only can he give birth to such characters, he understands them.  The scenes involving the Russian peasantry, who act completely contrary to reason, yet with such humanness, are evidence of Tolstoys profound comprehension of human nature and the human condition.

 

 

I love how Tolstoy lets humanity and compassion show through the animosity and the bloodletting of war.  One of my favourite characters of the novel was Ramballe, the French officer whom Pierre met in Bazdeev's house and who showed brotherhood and goodwill despite that fact that, given the circumstances, they should have been pitted against each other as sworn enemies. Originally, Pierre is portrayed somewhat as a bumbling oaf, a man of a lower class who, by luck and circumstances has managed to rise to a position of prestige yet has never been able to cast aside his peasant-like origins. However by his actions in the novel, he becomes admirable, echoing a segment of humanity that shows kindness, goodness, bravery and integrity that shines out from the avariciousness and shallowness of high society.

 

Tolstoy himself was very ambiguous about his masterpiece stating that it was, "not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less an historical chronicle." He believed that if the work was masterful, it could not conform to accepted standards and therefore could not be labelled.

 

The Battle of Borodino by Louise-Françoise, Baron Lejeune, 1822

from Wikipedia 

 

"It is natural for us who were not living in those days to imagine that when half Russia had been conquered and the inhabitants were fleeing to distant provinces, and one levy after another was being raised for the desense of the fatherland, all Russians from the greatest to the least were solely engaged in sacrificing themselves, saving their fatherland, or weeping over its downfall.  The tales and descriptions speak only of the self-sacrifice, patriotic devotion, despair, grief, and the heroism of the Russians.  But it was not really so.  It appears so to us because we see only the general historic interest of that time and do not see all the personal human interests that people had.  Yet in reality those personal interest of the moment so much transcend the general interests that they always prevent the public interest from being felt or even noticed.  Most of the people at that time paid not attention to the general progress of events but were guided by their own private interests, and they were the very people whose activities at that period were most useful. Those who tried to understand the general course of events and to take part in it by self-sacrifice and heroism were the most useless members of society, they saw everything upside-down, and all they did for the common good turned out to be useless and foolish …….. Even those, fond of intellectual talk and of expressing their feelings, who discussed Russia's position at the time involuntarily introduced into their conversation either a shade of pre tense and falsehood or useless condemnation and anger directed against people accused of actions no one could possibly be guilty of.  ………  Only unconscious action bears fruit, and he who plays a part in an historic event never understands its significance.  If he tries to realize it his efforts are fruitless. The more closely a man was engaged in the events then taking place in Russia the less did he realize their significance ………."

 

Napoleon's Retreat from Moscow

Adolf Northern

source Wikipedia

 

 

Perhaps Tolstoy is showing us that people are imperfect, with human vice and human foibles and that, in spite of trying to find heroics in war, the actions are only the actions of people trying to survive.  It is history looking backwards that make the heroes, but in reality, the characters in these trials of life are all people acting out their parts in a very human way.  There is no glory in war, only people trying to deal with the circumstances as best they can, and to get by with a little human dignity. Success can be more a matter of chance than planning, and it is often luck or misfortune that places people in either the bright spotlight of fame, or the dark dungeons of villainy.

 

I know that many people shy away from War and Peace because of its length, and I did too for a long time.  Another criticism is that Tolstoy's "war" parts are monotonous.  It certainly is a lengthy novel but by doing some cursive research on this period of Russian history, the reader can gain enough of a base to allow him to relax and be pulled into the story.  And by viewing the wars scenes, not only as history, but as a chance to learn from people's reactions in situations of stress and conflict, I think they can give us more of an insight into human motivations.  So pick it up and let yourself be swept away into the Russia Empire of the early 1800s.  You won't be disappointed!

 

 

(translated by Aylmer & Louise Maude)

 

 

 

 

© Cleo and Classical Carousel, Years 2014 - 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cleo and Classical Carousel with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

 

 

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