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[personal profile] cyrej
Was between 4 stars (good, but not mind-blowing) and 3 (meh); the "epilogue" disgusted and bored me so much that I settled at 3. That alone is 2 parts and several chapters, the first part is about everyone's life some years later - I am disgusted, I did not want to read about people's marriages and babies at length and pretend that's great, and does he really think someone is doing great morally for only hitting the serfs occasionally - and the second part is a long essay on why historians are all wrong and how they should instead approach things. This is ok, but it had already been said less directly throughout the book, the whole thing feels condescending and repetitive often. On the other hand I sometimes think he could have just written the essay and left off the rest of it.

Rostovs are all of them spoiled little brats.

I don't know what I expected, something like Moby Dick which just describes everything probably. It does very occasionally do a thing like put in a few paragraphs about how beekeeping works, but only to make a didactic metaphor out of it. I didn't properly consider that Tolstoy is some russian nobleman and can't tell about anything else or in a different tone.


Quotes I feel are holding onto (because the only thing I enjoy is being super arrogant and putting down the "social sciences"):

"Among that number of innumerable categories applicable to the phenomena of human life there are those in which substance prevails and those in which form prevails"

"The strangeness and absurdity of these replies arise from the fact that modern history, like a deaf man, answers questions no one asks" (it's mostly philosophy, in my opinion, where they continue to write long essays about questions which have long been answered or absurd and simple scenarios which no one wanted to know about, still come to no answers, and then feel smug about it)

The metaphor that history books and ideas (and in my opinion philosophy, literature, etc) are like paper or coin money in that they have mutually agreed upon value but not necessarily inherent value is also quite nice, if obvious.
The fact that academics write the history books and that's why books and academics and ideas are falsely portrayed as very influential was perhaps less obvious but probably true.


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February 2016

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