Can I toot my own horn (isn’t that the purpose of a blog after all)? I recently finished reading
This is no small accomplishment. It is not the same as writing a dissertation, but it is something that I am proud of. I now can join the elite group of people who have actually read this classic tome.
I’m not an expert in Russian Literature, so any thought or analysis that I can offer will be lacking that snobby nuance that I usually like to have when I reflect on theology. So instead of speaking to the subtle aspects of Tolstoy’s writing and cultural critique, I’ll paint broad strokes.
War is bad, kinda. In times of war the amount of chaos, destruction, death, and human fallenness is almost unimaginable. Yet there are also moments of people rising about their own failings, their own faults, and even thinking about others. War forces many to let go of the little distractions and to focus on the major aspects of life. Case in point: Pierre, one of the main characters, was constantly trying to find meaning in his life and it wasn’t until he was a prisoner of the French, when he knew that he could be killed any day that he began to truly see a way to live without attachment and still with joy. So war is bad, sorta.
Peace is good, kinda. In times of peace less people are being overtly massacred, crops grow, society flourishes, etc. Yet in times of peace people are sucked into the minutia of the absurd. Who is flirting with whom, who is trying to get political favor, and someone doing or saying things that are seen as uncouth becomes the fore of conversation. Gossip reigns and many of the worst of human behavior rise and flourishes in times of peace. So peace is good, sorta.
Like I said, I’m not a scholar of Russian Literature, so I am sure I am missing a lot. It is a really well written work with engaging stories, and I strongly recommend it to others. As to the big picture ideas that I find: humans are good and bad regardless of the time and the political context. Different context bring out different aspects of humanity, but overall I would say that humans are good and bad. Maybe Tolstoy should have titled the book “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” That would make a very catchy movie title.