If anyone is going to attempt reading it I would suggest reading it quickly and without long gaps in between sittings. Otherwise you will lose some of the characters and plot developments.
So how do I feel about it now that I finally finished? Its hard to summerise but I will try. Overall the second time around I enjoyed the book a whole lot more. I managed to remember about 95% of the characters and I think this really helped to enhance the experience.
I think that while being lengthy this book is not a difficult one to read especially when considering some other famous Russian novels. One thing I most enjoyed was the satirical way in which the characters were depicted which on occasion produced chuckle out loud moments. Some of the characters were almost caricatures and while serving the plot and conveying what the author wanted well, they were hardly believable or loveable. While I cared what happened to certain characters in certain sections of the book there was no one character that I loved or cared about deeply. The unmistakable omniscient voice of the author and sometimes his overt maneuvering made it obvious that they were just there to serve a purpose and be a tool for what the author wished to convey. You can argue that all characters in all books are just that but I found it very obvious and in my opinion sometimes too obvious.
As the title of this blog suggests most of the books seemed like it was in the war related events and times. I'm not a fan of war films or books but I found the war related plots very interesting and enlightening. Most things happen not because of the will of some amazing person or one decision but because many small things coincide to produce which in hindsight appears to be a significant event. All wars are useless and pointless - "War is not a polite recreation but the vilest thing in life, and we ought to understand that and not play at war".
I loved some of the beautiful analogies the author used to convey what he was saying.
Often the author would use several analogies to get his point across and I sometimes felt as if I was being hit over the head over and over again. I just wanted to shout out and say 'YES! I GOT IT.. LET'S MOVE ON". I think this book could have done with better editing especially towards the end. I'm not saying that because I dont like long books but I believe this book wont lose anything wonderful in it even after some serious editing. Some people might disagree.
I want to finish by recommending this book to everyone to read.
Here are some beautiful lines from it:
“I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself.”
“We are asleep until we fall in Love!”
“Because of the self-confidence with which he had spoken, no one could tell whether what he said was very clever or very stupid.”
“Everything depends on upbringing. ”
“The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless.”
“A Frenchman's self-assurance stems from his belief that he is mentally and physically irresistibly fascinating to both men and women. An Englishman's self-assurance is founded on his being a citizen of the best organized state in the world and on the fact that, as an Englishman, he always knows what to do, and that whatever he does as an Englishman is unquestionably correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets. A Russian is self-assured simply because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe in the possibility of knowing anything fully.”
“the same question arose in every soul: "For what, for whom, must I kill and be killed?".
"Everything was just as it was everywhere else"
“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”
“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”