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

Previous weeks: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Avid readers of my War-and-Peace-O-Meter will have wondered what happened to Week Ten’s instalment. Had I abandoned my mission, to concentrate on the oeuvre of Maeve Binchy? Had I dropped the book on my foot, broken every phalange and metatarsal, and spent the last fortnight in traction, unable to write rambling blog posts? Well, I can reassure both of you that neither of these, nor any other calamity, have befallen me. I was just on my holibobs last weekend (a somewhat damp but very agreeable few days on the North Wales coast). Normal service is now resumed.

It rather surprises me that, for all that I am enjoying War and Peace, and have previously enjoyed other classics of Russian literature, I don’t really have a yen to visit the country. I don’t dream of going to the place where Nikolay Rostov thundered across the battlefield, or the room where Bolkonsky danced with Natasha. Perhaps because the works that got translated, and have become part of the literary canon, in many ways transcend place (and maybe time), and deal with human life in all its infinite variety. Or, less pretentiously, perhaps it’s because barren steppe is not particularly appealing, and, in fact, many of these classics describe a country that literally no longer exists… which is, after all, part of their fascination.

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