In The Beginning: A Rationale

As some of you may or may not know, I am completely and utterly unemployed. In an attempt to retain my sanity, I need to find myself a project.

Since I have never before tried blogging, I decided that I would combine three goals into one:  First, I need something other than scouring craigslist, careerbilder, and gradcafe to occupy my time; second, I have always wanted to read War and Peace; and third, I want to try my hand at this blog thing.

My goal here is to keep my brain moving while also continuing  to grapple with the written word.

So here is my plan: I want to read 50-75 pages a week. This number may go up or go down depending on Life, but in general, I want to take these pages and write something lucid about them in a weekly post. I suppose I will begin with a basic synopsis, but then I hope to add something of my own–perhaps an opinion, maybe a close reading of a certain passage. Who knows?

Part of the reason I chose War and Peace is because it is long, 1300 pages long, and therefore, if I keep to my schedule, this will be a six-month undertaking. I currently need that type of intermediate goal.

When I was in graduate school, one of my colleagues told me that everything she learned about Russian history, she learned from Russian fiction. I liked the sound of that, and since I enjoy digging through history books, I wanted to test how well Tolstoy reads as an arbiter of the historic.

On a similar note, many political theorists count Tolstoy as a proto-anarchist. I have done some reading on this subject, and I am quite eager to find out how War and Peace reflects the anarchist spirit.

I will admit that I have been intimidated by Russian literature in the past. I have read some of Dostoyevsky and a few Chekhov short stories, but not much else. I find the habit of giving every Russian character at least three names quite daunting, but given this blog format, I thought I might try mapping the names and the relationships between characters on here. We will see how that goes.

Finally, a few days ago I was listening to an interview with the late DFW, and he was talking about how people, specifically Americans, do not have the patience to sit alone in a room and read and think and digest a “difficult” piece of literature or music. In some ways, I agree with him, so I took his statement as a challenge. Who knows, if this goes well, maybe Infinite Jest might be next on the hit list.

So beginning next week, I will enter into my confrontation with Tolstoy’s War and Peace. And You, are invited to come along with me.




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