It just occured to me the other day that one of my resolutions for 2011 was to read War and Peace. So this seems a lickety-split time to get cracking. It's quite a tome to digest: over 1,000 pages. And I have to confess, the book-- bigger than a brick-- has been gathering dust on a table in my office for over a year.
I did get started several months ago but the book is so heavy I couldn't travel with it, and since I had to travel... Solution? An ebook! Nope, that didn't work. I tried, but reading something as truffle-rich as Tolstoy's War and Peace on a screen is like trying to slice prime rib in gravy on a paper plate. Well, maybe that's not the most apt analogy. The thing is, I needed to be able to leaf back and forth, rereading here and there to make sense of these first opening pages and with an electronic version, that was a hassle. So back to the humungous paperback version it is. And if I have to travel? This time, I will get a razorblade and slice a chunk out of the book and take it with me. Ayyy.
Which translation to read? As a translator myself (from the Spanish) I know there can be huge differences from one version to the next, so I threw the question to my literary translators' litserv. Several different translators recommended several different versions. Fur flew. Were I to quote, I would make enemies for life. Ayyy. With appreciation to all for both honest opinions and encouragement, I hereby opt for the version I already own, that by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
---> The book's official website.
So why this blog?
First, it's just a log (with a modernizing "b" to make it a blog), that is, a way of giving myself some focussing structure. Second, I am a novelist, so I imagine that my reactions will inform my own writing, and my thinking about writing. Third, it can be a long and lonely journey to read a novel of this length, so perhaps some readers/ fellow traveler's in other times and places may find sustenance here.
My goal is to read the book thoughtfully but at a steady clip so I can finish by December 31. That's approximately 15 pages a day (including a couple of days off).
P.S. I thought I was tewwibly clever to think of blogging about reading War and Peace but, of course, someone else has already done it. Last night, with a google search, I found the very good and inspiring blog by a New Yorker named Jerry D. Parra. He digested the whole enchilada in 118 days.
Next post: Wednesday.