The War-and-Peace-O-Meter: Week Nine

Previous weeks: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

We’re past the halfway mark, folks, and squarely into the book’s third volume. It starts with a rather fine, and admirably precise, review of the causes of the 1812 French invasion of Russia. Tolstoy muses on the strange way that huge incomprehensible events are attributable to everything and nothing; if enough of Napoleon’s generals had refused to come out of retirement, there could have been no war. Yet what difference could one general have made by refusing…

On a rather smaller scale, similar thoughts often occur when one is in a pensive mood about one’s own life. And I have been minded lately to pense the seemingly improbable existence of my freshly-minted son. If Mrs. Monkeyshines and I hadn’t met, there could have been no Little Monkey… if Sarah Beeny hadn’t started up that dating website… if people hadn’t watched her shows to give her the necessary cash and cachet… if there had been no property bubble for her to exploit… Our strange, contingent, complicated human lives are such funny little things. But it’s fun to think about them sometimes; and reading War and Peace is, for all of its stoutness, a rather simpler way to inspire such thoughts than having a baby. Although the latter is probably more rewarding in the long run. Swings and roundabouts, people, swings and roundabouts.

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