Wednesday, January 7, 2009
"War and Peace" in One Minute
"War and Peace," by Leo Tolstoy, is one of those great books that everyone recognizes but few have read. However, if you'll give it a chance, I think you'll will be blessed - especially anyone with a Christian point of view.
The setting for the book is before and after Napoleon's disastrous march on Moscow in 1812. Pierre, one of the main characters, is convinced he is the Anti-Christ because the Hebrew numbers associated with the French letters in "L'Empereur Napoleon" add up to 666.
Most of the characters come from the upper Russian classes. They are selfish, manipulative, foolish, vain, whose fortunes rise and fall on the whims of war. To impress people they love to speak in French.
A few of them, however, act quite nobly such as Princess Maria, whose father, Count Balkonsky, assures her she is quite ugly and makes her work algebra and geometry problems several hours every day. Maria still loves her father, forgives him and finds comfort among the God-folk and her faith in Jesus.
Pierre is on a journey to find the meaning of life. He doesn't find it in marriage to the mean-spirited Ellene. Nor does he find it in the discipline of the Masons. Nor does he find help from loose women. Pierre goes to check on the war and sees that most soldiers are vain, some are lucky and a few are truly courageous. But then Pierre meets a peasant named Platon Karataev, who only appears for a few paragraphs but is the soul of the book. A very simple man, he prays each night: "Lay me down like a stone, Oh God, and raise me up like a loaf."
Tolstoy strips away the vain glory, the avarice, the selfish deceit of men women only to show us that the meaning of life rests in family and simple faith in Christ. He also discourses at length on the question of the freedom of the will. But if you listen to this with an audio book, you can sleep through that part. (Although as a Lutheran pastor, I found it very interesting!)
To read "War and Peace" online visit The Literature Network. If you're interested in audio books, I recommend Audible. Turn off the TV. Read a book!