Friday, May 13, 2011
Lesson 53: I Fight On
I'm stuck. I made a public promise. I vowed to stick with it to the end. For better or worse. No matter how long and hard the road, I was committed. In it to win it. Win the war that is. And boy, oh boy, has it been a battle. My marriage? Nope. War and Peace. My book.
Eloise finds herself smack dab in the middle of Russian history and Napoleonic Wars. Well...........not exactly smack dab in the MIDDLE of 1,386 pages. I've honestly admitted I am not good at math but decent enough to know that would bring me to about 693. I'm on page 40. It's been a slow go.
Given that I am such a whiz at math, I calculated that by reading at this rate since beginning the book on April 5, 2011, I will finish it on May 30th, 2015. Ellen will be finishing up her reign at the Junior High by then. Maybe it will be on the Harbor Creek High School summer reading list for entering 9th graders and I can help her out. Never hurts to be prepared.
I know I just picked up 30 Russian blog followers and certainly don't want to insult your boy Tolstoy, but this book just defies all rules of story writing. What happened to the rule about not muddling the plot with too many characters early on? Not to mention that every character needs a pronunciation guide to go along with it. Try picking your way through Katkov, Drubetsky, Pavlovna, and Bolkonsky at 11:00 at night. No need to count sheep at the Lamp Post anymore. What about the run-on sentence? I know it's a translated work and all, but come on, a 57 word sentence? I wonder what the scorers of the PSSA writing tests would say to this: Meanwhile all the younger generation, Boris, the officer, Anna Milhalovna's son; Nikolay, the student, the Count's elder son; Sonya, the Count's nieces; and little Petya, his younger son, had all placed themselves about the drawing room, and were obviously trying to restrain within the bounds of decorum the excitement and mirth which was brimming over their faces. Go ahead. Count 'em yourself. This covers the "too many character" thing, too.
That wasn't the sentence that got me off on the wrong foot though. It was one that he used in a conversation of two of the main characters. The young males were discussing marriage. Read this: But tie yourself up with a woman, and, like a chained convict, you lose all freedom. And all the hope and strength there is in you is only a drag on you, torturing you with regret.........No, don't marry my dear fellow, don't marry! Ladies, I smell a bit of a chauvinist. Do you?
Our brains activate when we read and we conjure up images of the words on the pages. Little movies go on in our heads when we read and the pictures are drawn from people we know and our own past experiences. Oddly enough, one of the characters in the beginning is Princess Ellen. I told my daughter this, and she was very pleased. I don't know what kind of character Tolstoy's Ellen will turn out to be, but thus far she "has a lovely head sitting upon statuesque shoulders." Not quite the wording I'd use for my own little princess, but she's lovely just the same. The Count Somethingorotheretsky keeps appearing and all I can picture is the one from Sesame Street. I've had 13 years straight of Sesame Street, so forgive me. After that I don't have much Russian history to draw from. Well, except for Rocky IV, that is.
I have a penchant for boxing for some reason. I guess I like a good fight. The Rocky movies are some of my all time favorites. The misplaced flower child has an inner feisty that I can't fight at times, pun fully intended. So here is a clip of the final fight between Rocky and Drago. I hate to blow the ending, but Russians, this was probably censored in your country, so here's a hint: the end doesn't work out so well for you all.
So, inspired by my hero, Rocky Balboa, I too shall fight my Russian beast. His name isn't Drago; it's Tolstoy. I'm stuck because I gave my word, and I'm not a girl who goes back on it no matter how much it sucks. Is 40 too soon to make that decision to continue to fight or to call it a day? I'll read a little more and see how it goes. Watch for an update. Summer's coming--lots of late nights reading out on my porch swing. Drive by some evening local followers, and you'll see my light--my book light, that is.
Posted by eloise hawking at 9:50 PM