Friday, 17 October 2008

Travelling with Tolstoy

A quote from today's reading of War and Peace:

The human intellect cannot grasp the full range of causes that lie behind any phenomenon. But the need to discover causes is deeply ingrained in the spirit of man. And so the human intellect ignores the infinite permutations and sheer complexity of all the circumstances surrounding a phenomenon, any one of which could be individually construed as the thing that caused it, latches on to the first and easiest approximation, and says, 'This is the cause!'

Leo Tolstoy has been my constant companion on my trip so far. I think I'd read about 200 pages of W & P when I set off for New York, and I'm now about 1100 pages in, another 300 to go. In that time I picked up and read a sports book inside a day in LA/San Diego, but Tolstoy really has been a great constant on my trip. At times I haven't picked it up for days on end: mainly when I've been with groups of people, and/or drinking too much to focus. But there have been other periods where it has been my main interest and activity for a couple of days.

I will be glad to finish it - simply because it will free up some space and weight in my luggage - but perhaps I will miss my companion. Still, there are 300 good pages to go.... Of course, I know how the War element will wind up, it's the Peace I'm more interested in. Surely Natasha will end up with Pierre somehow. I can't wait to see how it works out


Richard Smith said...

Did you consciously title this after "Travelling with Herodotus," a marvellous book?

Richard Smith said...

It's a great quote, by the way.

James Smith said...

No, I didn't think of that. Although I remember what a fan of that book you are