As part of my reading goal this year, I decided to read a few big classic novels One of them is ‘War and Peace’ by Leo Tolstoy. Inspired by two of my friends, who have probably read it more than once, I have made multiple attempts in past years to read this classic, but for one reason or another I haven’t been able to continue with my reading effort. ‘War and Peace’ is a mammoth classic (my edition is 1358 pages long with small font – if the font size had been bigger, the size of the book would have increased by atleast 50% to around 2000 pages!). One needs to put in the time and effort to read it and do justice to this epic book and be rewarded by the experience. I decided that I will put in the required time and effort this year. And what is more, instead of procrastinating, I decided that it will be first book that I will read this year I started reading it a couple of days back, and have finished around 125 pages till now. The classic translation of ‘War and Peace’ is the one by Constance Garnett, but the one I am reading is a new translation by Anthony Briggs.
If you haven’t read the book before, here is a two-line summary : The book is set during the the war between France and Russia at the time of Napoleon. ‘War and Peace’ describes the fortunes, lives and loves of some of the story’s fictional characters and families during this time.
I am giving below some of my favourite lines from the book, from the chapters of the book that I have read till now.
His French was the elegant tongue of our grandparents, who used it for thought as well as speech, and it carried the soft tones of condescension that come naturally to an eminent personage grown old in high society and at court.
As tends to happen with the best-looking women, a defect – in this case a short lip and a half-open mouth – came out as a distinctive and beautiful feature.
Just as a skilful head waiter can pass off as a supreme delicacy a cut of beef that would be inedible if you’d seen it in the filthy kitchen, Anna Pavlovna served up to her guests that evening first the viscount and then the abbe as if they were supreme delicacies.
If everybody fought for nothing but his own convictions, there wouldn’t be any wars.
Even in the very warmest, friendliest and simplest of relationships you need either flattery or praise in the way that you need grease to keep wheels turning.
…she was at that charming age when the girl is no longer a child, and the child is not yet a young girl.
There was a smoothness in the way she moved, a gentle suppleness in her little limbs and a kind of wary aloofness that suggested a pretty half-grown kitten that would one day turn into a lovely cat.
Sonya half-rose, and the kitten in her revived, its eyes gleaming; it seemed ready to flick its tail, pounce about on its soft paws and start playing with a ball, as good kittens do.
At this point, Princess Marya sighed and looked around at the tall mirror to her right. The glass reflected a feeble, unattractive body and a skinny face. The ever-gloomy eyes looked at themselves more hopelessly than ever. ‘She’s flattering me,’ thought the princess as she turned back to read on. But Julie was not flattering her friend; her eyes were large, deep and radiant (sometimes a warm light seemed to pour out of them), really so winsome that very often, in spite of the plainness of the face as a whole, her eyes held a greater appeal than mere beauty. But the princess had never seen the beautiful expression in her own eyes, an expression they assumed only when she wasn’t thinking about herself. Like everyone else, her face took on a strained, artificial and disagreeable expression the moment she looked at herself in the mirror.
We love people not so much for the good they have done to us as for the good we have done to them.
The regiment stirred itself like a bird settling its feathers…
Hope you enjoyed reading the above lines. I will post more of my favourite quotes, after I read more of the book.