Epic Proportions


Unlike the hackneyed writing sometimes seen in quick-study brochures, it’s discerning, succinct, and a model of organized writing.

Old tech writers (I’m one) can appreciate it.  The text isn’t clogged with dense scholastic theory.  It’s open-aired and practical.  When the reader spots something in the novel itself, the notes are confirming.

At 115 pages and 8 bucks from a second-hand book dealer, mine is the 1967 original assembled by two professors, Doctors Carey & Roberts. Those guys must have spent many a long day and night in offices and taverns figuring out how they would distill the huge book into pony notes.  Marianne Sturman later added short essay-like pieces on theme, structure, characters, etc.

The pieces instruct, in the spirit of the book itself:

“An outstanding feature of Tolstoy’s writing is that his characters are always “becoming” and not just “being.”  Even in static chapters where there is little external action, the characters are changing … Tolstoy can make unusual dramatic material out of essentially undramatic stuff.”

* Follow-up post several days later:  After reading sections of the Cliff’s,  I picked up where I left off. It started with a chapter about a hounds chase at the Roskov estate. Nikolai is in his element and has his veteran dog ready to show how good they are.  He seeks the target away from the pack. Meanwhile hundreds of other dogs and multiple horseback riders go after the  wolves…not foxes, not hares — not a British chase, a Russian one. Rostov has his chance and seems to have triumphed but the wolf eludes him and his hound. The property’s wrangler, the giant Danilo, wraps up the wolf instead.