There have been moments, I’ll confess, since the last post, when I’ve wondered if this bookclub might dwindle to being a one-person bookclub, or, possibly, a zero-person bookclub. For now we remain steadily at 2. Max is up to Chapter 15 of Part One, and I’m about 60 pages ahead, about to embark on Part Two once he’s caught up to me.
This post’s title was inspired by my observation that I was enjoying War and Peace much more than I’d anticipated. Why, I wondered, had I never realized that it was a comedy? “Title’s a bit misleading,” Dr. Lake had quipped. Which is why I think War and Peace ‘s title should hereafter be amended to: War and Peace: A Comedy.
Here’s an example.
It was that time before a formal dinner when the assembled guests refrain from beginning a long conversation, expecting to be called to the hors d’oeuvres, but at the same time consider it necessary to move about and not be silent, in order to show that they are not at all impatient to sit down at the table. The hosts keep glancing at the door and occasionally exchange glances with each other. The guests try to guess from these glances who or what they are still waiting for: an important belated relation or a dish that is not ready yet.
Part One concludes strongly. Plot wise, Count Bezukhov, after a drawn-out and heavily attended sickness, finally dies, leaving his considerable fortune to our man Pierre, whom the Count acknowledges before dying as his legitimate son. Meanwhile, the disaffected Prince Andrei is about to set off for war, abandoning his pregnant wife (for whom he has the deepest contempt) with his gruff, regimented father and his younger sister–who can’t be too bad, since she quotes Sterne: “As Sterne says: ‘We love people not so much for the good they’ve done us, as for the good we’ve done them.'”
The endnotes tell me that “Sterne’s novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman has been seen as a formal precursor of War and Peace.“* This is exciting news indeed, and assuages my concern that the comedy may lessen as we head to war. I’m now expecting fortifications and groin injuries galore.
*I.e. War and Peace: A Comedy.