I have tried on more than a dozen times to read "War and Peace." Usually, I don't get much past page eight, the last time I got to page 15 and still didn't get it, except for the fact that the book describes the onset of Russia's war with Napoleon.
I started it in college, some 27 years ago. I might have made it as far as page 22. Every two or three years, when I pack up for a move, it glares at me from some dark corner of my attic or garage, and I pick it up and get another 20 or 30 pages in before packing it away again. At this rate, I'll finish it by the time I'm 182 years old.
I've been starting to think that the best way for me to get the most out of "War And Peace" is to use it as a block for my trailer hitch.
It is important to think of “War and Peace” less as a book and more as a scholastic marathon to be ran with a consistent, easy pace. I got to hand to you, Jack. I got a readers side ache around page 6. There’s no questioning Tolstoy’s brilliance, though. The true prodigy of Russia in my book is Dostoyevsky. There are few writers in history that can rip the id out of your skull and force a self-introspection like he can. We all as writers strive for truth in our work, but few can articulate truth with such mastery. Plus, there is good old fashion crime murder in Dos's work.
Remember that most 'classics' had that stamped on them somewhere around the beginning of the last century. If these books came on the market today, they wouldn't get past the first reader at a publishing house.
I think that's a good thing, BR. Those classics had something to say about the times in which the were written.
Too often I find crime fiction being written today is really about a previous era - look at the thread Jon Loomis started about the comment left on his blog, that woman wants books frozen in another time.
I know I started this mess, but I read the first "chapter" again last night after I started the thread. This time I read it very slowly and with no thought toward speed reading ... A hell of a lot of detail inside each speaker.
Changing attitudes in the same conversation, is somewhat like we do today. (Notice my change in attitude just since I started this thread yesterday--Today Australian time.) I may try read more as soon as I finish "Under the Dome" by Stephen King. Now talk about someone who writes of "his time" or "her time," I think very few modern writers do that as well as King. Although, he tells it like it is in Maine, it seems not much different than it is here in Maryland.
In 1865 there were about 200 writers in the world, maybe 200,000 readers. (Okay, I'm making up the numbers, but you get the point). The great mass of us were working the ground, mines, or factories, and not only didn't have time to read or write, we probably couldn't.
You got that wrong. There used to be more readers, and those readers were far more experienced ones. In other words, they had the vocabulary and the expertise to deal with complex sentences, and the patience to hang in there and try to get the message. They had no other entertainment in their lives.