Friday, January 28, 2011
Book Beginnings | War and Peace
"Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes. But I warn you, if you don't tell me that this means war, if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by that Antichrist—I really believe he is Antichrist—I will have nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend, no longer my 'faithful slave,' as you call yourself! But how do you do? I see I have frightened you—sit down and tell me all the news."
I laughed when I re-read this, because it's evident to me that this opening line would scare the crap out of people and may make some readers stop in their tracks. That said, I really enjoy this opening line looking back. It would be better if you had a preliminary understanding of the Napoleonic Wars before you read this, but rest assured that the rest of the book doesn't need more than a cursory history lesson which you can get in 15 minutes on wikipedia.
I really enjoy the use of dialogue in setting the scene, which I believe was a rarer device for an opening line during the time period, which typically focused on a long-run on detailed description of the setting [see Henry James' opening line next week]. I also like the ferocity of emotion and sets the reader up for a customary diplomatist reception.
Posted by Eclectic Indulgence at 12:00 AM
Labels: Book Beginnings, Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
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LOL. That first line made my jaw drop. I didn't understand a single thing about it. I'm off to look some things up on Wikipedia. Good luck with the rest of War and Peace. :)
I love that opening line ... makes me want to go and get a copy of War and Peace (one of the few classic books that intimidates me) and read it right now.
I read the E and P translation of War and Peace last year-loved the experience-I justed post on a brand new translation of one of his last works, "How Much Land Does a Man Need?"-I like the focus of your blog a lot
I'm steaming ahead---well, puttputtputting along, anyway---in War and Peace. Wish I had a very nice person who could sit here with me and explain the hard parts.
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