Monday, November 23, 2015

Greatest Hits of 'War and Peace'

Here are some of my favorite parts from Pevear and Volokhonsky's unabridged translation of War and Peace:
How can one be well … when one suffers morally? Is it possible to remain at ease in our time, if one has any feeling? (p. 4)
Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women. (p. 15)
Influence in society is a capital that must be used sparingly, lest it disappear. Prince Vassily knew that and, having once realized that if he were to solicit for everyone who solicited from him, it would soon become impossible for him to solicit for himself, he rarely used his influence. (p. 16)
“Up to now, thank God, I’ve been a friend to my children and have enjoyed their full trust,” said the countess, repeating the error of many parents who suppose that their children have no secrets from them. (p. 42)
We love people not so much for the good they’ve done us, as for the good we’ve done them. (p. 106)
Against your will He will save you and have mercy on you and turn you to Him, because in Him alone there is truth and peace. (p. 107)
Ah! if we did not have religion to console us, life would be quite sad. (p. 111)
Ah! dear friend, the word of our divine Savior, that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, that word is terribly true; I pity Prince Vassily and I feel even sorrier for Pierre. So young and burdened with such wealth, what temptations he will have to endure! If I were asked what I would like most in the world, it would be to be poorer than the poorest beggar. (p. 111)
“One step beyond that line, reminiscent of the line separating the living from the dead, and it’s the unknown, suffering, and death. And what is there? who is there? there, beyond this field, and the tree, and the roof lit by the sun? No one knows, and you would like to know; and you’re afraid to cross that line, and would like to cross it; and you know that sooner or later you will have to cross it and find out what is there on the other side of the line , as you will inevitably find out what is there on the other side of death. And you’re strong, healthy, cheerful, and excited, and surrounded by people just as strong and excitedly animated.” So, if he does not think it, every man feels who finds himself within sight of an enemy, and this feeling gives a particular brilliance and joyful sharpness of impression to everything that happens in those moments. (p. 143)
He asked Rostov to tell them how and where he had received his wound. This pleased Rostov , and he began telling the story, growing more and more animated as it went on. He told them about his Schöngraben action in just the way that those who take part in battles usually tell about them, that is, in the way they would like it to have been, the way they have heard others tell it, the way it could be told more beautifully, but not at all the way it had been. Rostov was a truthful young man, not for anything would he have deliberately told an untruth. He began telling the story with the intention of telling it exactly as it had been, but imperceptibly, involuntarily, and inevitably for himself, he went over into untruth. If he had told the truth to these listeners, who, like himself, had already heard accounts of attacks numerous times and had formed for themselves a definite notion of what an attack was, and were expecting exactly the same sort of account— they either would not have believed him or, worse still, would have thought it was Rostov’s own fault that what usually happens in stories of cavalry attacks had not happened with him. He could not simply tell them that they all set out at a trot, he fell off his horse, dislocated his arm, and ran to the woods as fast as he could to escape a Frenchman. Besides, in order to tell everything as it had been, one would have to make an effort with oneself so as to tell only what had been. To tell the truth is very difficult, and young men are rarely capable of it. (p. 242)
“Yes, I may very well be killed tomorrow,” he thought . And suddenly, with that thought of death, a whole series of the most remote and most soul-felt memories arose in his imagination; he remembered his last farewell from his father and his wife; he remembered the first time of his love for her; remembered her pregnancy and felt sorry for her and for himself; and in an emotionally softened and troubled state, he left the cottage in which he was billeted with Nesvitsky and began pacing in front of the house. The night was misty, and through the mist moonlight shone mysteriously. 
“Yes, tomorrow, tomorrow!” he thought. “Tomorrow maybe everything will be over for me, all these memories will be no more, all these memories will simply have no more sense for me . Tomorrow maybe— even certainly, I have a presentiment of it— for the first time I’ll finally have to show all I can do.” And he imagined the battle, its loss, the concentration of the fighting at one point, and the bewilderment of all the superiors. And here that happy moment, that Toulon he has so long awaited, finally presents itself to him. He voices his opinion firmly and clearly to Kutuzov and Weyrother, and to the emperors. All are struck by the correctness of his thinking , but no one undertakes to carry it out, and here he takes a regiment, a division, negotiates the condition that no one interfere with his instructions, and leads his division to the decisive point, and alone wins the victory. 
“And death and suffering?” says another voice. But Prince Andrei does not respond to that voice and goes on with his successes . The disposition for the next battle he does alone. He bears the title of an officer on duty in Kutuzov’s army, but he does everything alone. He alone wins the next battle . Kutuzov is replaced, he is appointed … “Well, and then ?” the other voice says again. “And then, if you’re not wounded, killed, or deceived ten times over— well, then what?” “Well, then …” Prince Andrei answers himself, “I don’t know what will happen then, I don’t want to know and I can’t know ; but if I want this, want glory, want to be known to people, want to be loved by them, it’s not my fault that I want it, that it’s the only thing I want, the only thing I live for. Yes, the only thing! I’ll never tell it to anyone, but my God! what am I to do if I love nothing except glory, except people’s love? Death, wounds, loss of family, nothing frightens me. And however near and dear many people are to me— my father, my sister, my wife— the dearest people to me— but, however terrible and unnatural it seems, I’d give them all now for a moment of glory, of triumph over people, for love from people I don’t know and will never know, for the love of these people here,” he thought, listening to the talk in Kutuzov’s yard. 
From Kutuzov’s yard came the voices of orderlies preparing to sleep; one voice, probably of a coachman who was teasing Kutuzov’s old cook, whom Prince Andrei knew and whose name was Titus, said: “Titus, hey, Titus?” “Well?” replied the old man. “Titus, don’t bite us,” said the joker. “Pah, go to the devil,” a voice cried, drowned out by the guffawing of the orderlies and servants. “And still the only thing I love and cherish is triumph over all of them, I cherish that mysterious power and glory hovering over me here in this mist!” (pp. 264-265)
Looking into Napoleon’s eyes, Prince Andrei thought about the insignficance of grandeur, about the insignificance of life, the meaning of which no one could understand, and about the still greater insignificance of death, the meaning of which no one among the living could understand or explain. (p. 293)
“It would be good,” thought Prince Andrei, looking at this icon which his sister had hung on him with such feeling and reverence, “it would be good if everything was as clear and simple as it seems to Princess Marya. How good it would be to know where to look for help in this life and what to expect after it, there, beyond the grave! How happy and calm I’d be, if I could say now: Lord, have mercy on me! … But to whom shall I say it? Either it is an indefinable, unfathomable power, which I not only cannot address, but which I cannot express in words— the great all or nothing,” he said to himself, “or it is that God whom Princess Marya has sewn in here, in this amulet? Nothing, nothing is certain, except the insignificance of everything I can comprehend and the grandeur of something incomprehensible but most important!” (p. 293)
We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” (p. 348)
“The highest wisdom and truth is like the most pure liquid, which we want to receive into ourselves,” he said. “Can I receive this pure liquid in an impure vessel and then judge its purity? Only by purifying myself inwardly can I keep the liquid I receive pure to some degree.” (p. 352)
“And above all,” Pierre went on, “this I know and know for certain, that the pleasure of doing good is the only certain happiness in life.” (p. 384)
But as soon as Pierre thought of how and what he was going to say, he had the feeling that Prince Andrei would discredit his entire teaching with a single word, a single argument, and he was afraid to begin, afraid to expose his favorite, sacred thing to the possibility of ridicule. (p. 387)
“If there is God and if there is a future life, then there is truth, there is virtue; and man’s highest happiness consists in striving to attain them. We must live, we must love, we must believe,” said Pierre, “that we do not live only today on this scrap of earth, but have lived and will live eternally there, in the all” (he pointed to the sky). Prince Andrei stood with his elbow resting on the rail of the ferry, and , listening to Pierre, did not take his eyes off the red gleam of the sun on the blue floodwaters. Pierre fell silent. It was completely still . The ferry had long been moored, and only the waves of the current lapped with a faint sound against the ferry’s bottom. It seemed to Prince Andrei that this splash of waves made a refrain to Pierre’s words, saying: “It’s true, believe it.” (p. 389)
I’m happy when I can do good, but to set right an injustice is the greatest happiness (p. 411)
And what is justice? The princess never thought about this proud word justice. All the complicated laws of mankind were concentrated for her in one simple and clear law— the law of love and self-denial taught us by Him who suffered for mankind with love, though He Himself was God. What did the justice or injustice of other people matter to her? She herself had to suffer and to love, and that she did. (p. 482)
Ah, my friend, religion and religion alone can — I do not say comfort — but deliver us from despair; religion alone can explain to us that which man cannot understand without its help. (p. 483)
“Christ, the Son of God, came down to earth and told us that this life is a momentary life, a trial, yet we keep holding on to it and hope to find happiness in it. How is it no one understands that?” thought Princess Marya. “No one except these contemptible people of God, who come to me at the back door with bags over their shoulders, afraid of being noticed by the prince, not because they would suffer from him, but so as not to lead him into sin. To leave family , birthplace, all cares for worldly goods, so as to walk, without clinging to anything, in coarse rags, under an assumed name, from place to place, without harming people, and praying for them, praying for those who persecute and for those who protect: there is no truth and life higher than this truth and life!” (p. 486)
Can’t you understand finally that, besides your own pleasure, there is the happiness, the peace of other people, that you are ruining a whole life just because you want to have fun? (p. 594)
It was obvious that Balashov’s person did not interest him in the least. It was clear that only what went on in his soul was of interest to him. Everything that was outside him had no meaning for him, because everything in the world, as it seemed to him, depended only upon his will. (p. 619)
Rostov kept thinking about that brilliant feat of his, which, to his surprise, had gained him the St. George Cross and even given him the reputation of a brave man—and there was something in it that he was unable to understand. “So they’re even more afraid than we are!” he thought. “So that’s all there is to so-called heroism? And did I really do it for the fatherland? And what harm had he done, with his dimple and his light blue eyes? But how frightened he was! He thought I’d kill him . Why should I kill him? My hand faltered. And they gave me the St. George Cross. I understand nothing, nothing!” (pp. 654-655)
It seemed so natural for Pierre to be kind to everyone, that there was no merit in his kindness. (p. 658)
the higher they stand in the human hierarchy, the less free they are. (p. 682)
“My God! What is this? Why is he here?” Prince Andrei said to himself. In the unfortunate, sobbing, exhausted man whose leg had just been removed, he recognized Anatole Kuragin. They were holding him up in their arms and offering him water in a glass, the rim of which he could not catch in his trembling, swollen lips. Anatole was sobbing deeply. “Yes, it’s he; yes, this man is closely and painfully connected with me by something,” thought Prince Andrei , not yet understanding clearly what he saw before him. “What is this man’s connection with my childhood, with my life?” he asked himself, without finding an answer. And suddenly a new and unexpected memory from the world of childhood, purity, and love came to Prince Andrei. He remembered Natasha as he had seen her for the first time at the ball in 1810, with her slender neck and arms, with her frightened, happy face ready for rapture, and in his soul love and tenderness for her awakened, stronger and more alive than ever. He now remembered the connection between him and this man , who was looking at him dully through the tears that filled his swollen eyes. Prince Andrei remembered everything, and a rapturous pity and love for this man filled his happy heart. Prince Andrei could no longer restrain himself, and he wept tender, loving tears over people, over himself, and over their and his own errors. “Compassion, love for our brothers, for those who love us, love for those who hate us, love for our enemies— yes, that love which God preached on earth, which Princess Marya taught me, and which I didn’t understand; that’s why I was sorry about life, that’s what was still left for me, if I was to live. But now it’s too late. I know it!” (p. 814)
Man cannot possess anything as long as he fears death. But to him who does not fear it, everything belongs. If there was no suffering, man would not know his limits, would not know himself. (p. 843)
You can love a person dear to you with a human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love. (p. 921)
a man who plays a role in a historical event never understands its significance. If he attempts to understand it, he is struck with fruitlessness. (p. 944)
But his life, as he looked at it, had no meaning as a separate life. It had meaning only as a part of the whole, which he constantly sensed. (p. 974)
In captivity, in the shed, Pierre had learned, not with his mind, but with his whole being, his life, that man is created for happiness, that happiness is within him, in the satisfying of natural human needs, and that all unhappiness comes not from lack, but from superfluity; but now, in these last three weeks of the march, he had learned a new and more comforting truth— he had learned that there is nothing frightening in the world. He had learned that , as there is no situation in the world in which a man can be happy and perfectly free, so there is no situation in which he can be perfectly unhappy and unfree. He had learned that there is a limit to suffering and a limit to freedom, and that those limits are very close; that the man who suffers because one leaf is askew in his bed of roses, suffers as much as he now suffered falling asleep on the bare, damp ground, one side getting cold as the other warmed up; that when he used to put on his tight ballroom shoes, he suffered just as much as now, when he walked quite barefoot (his shoes had long since worn out) and his feet were covered with sores. (p. 1060)
For us, with the measures of good and bad given us by Christ, nothing is immeasurable. And there is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, and truth. (p. 1071)
A wound in the soul, coming from the rending of the spiritual body, strange as it may seem, gradually closes like a physical wound. And once a deep wound heals over and the edges seem to have knit, a wound in the soul, like a physical wound, can be healed only by the force of life pushing up from inside. (p. 1080)
“They say: misfortunes, sufferings,” said Pierre. “Well , if someone said to me right now, this minute: do you want to remain the way you were before captivity, or live through it all over again? For God’s sake, captivity again and horsemeat! Once we’re thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost; but it’s only here that the new and the good begins. As long as there’s life, there’s happiness. There’s much, much still to come. (p. 1118)
Pierre’s insanity consisted in the fact that he did not wait, as before, for personal reasons, which he called people’s merits, in order to love them, but love overflowed his heart, and, loving people without reason, he discovered the unquestionable reasons for which it was worth loving them. (p. 1124)
If we allow that human life can be governed by reason, the possibility of life is annihilated. (p. 1131)
Discussions and arguments about women’s rights, about the relations between spouses, about their freedom and rights, though they had not yet been called “questions,” as they are now, were the same then as they are now; but these questions not only did not interest Natasha, but she decidedly did not understand them. These questions , then as now, existed only for those people who see in marriage nothing but the pleasure the spouses get from each other, that is, nothing but the beginnings of marriage, and not its whole significance, which consists in the family. (p. 1155)
She ate, drank, slept, woke, but did not live. Life gave her no impressions at all. She needed nothing from life except peace, and that peace she could find only in death. But as long as death did not come , she had to live, that is, to make use of her time, her life forces. In her there was noticeable in the highest degree what one notices in very small children and very old people. In her life no external purpose could be seen, but what was evident was only the need to exercise her various inclinations and abilities. She needed to eat, to sleep, to think, to talk, to weep, to work, to get angry, and so on, only because she had a stomach , a brain, muscles, nerves, and a liver. She did all that without any external impulse, not as people do in the full force of life, when, behind the purpose they are striving towards, they do not notice another purpose— that of applying their forces. She talked only because she had a physical need to work her lungs and tongue . She wept like a baby, because she had to clear her nose, and so on. What for people in full force presented itself as a purpose, for her was obviously a pretext. (pp. 1162-1163)
If Nikolai could have been conscious of his feeling, he would have found that his firm, tender, and proud love for his wife had always been based on this feeling of wonder before her inner life, before that lofty moral world, almost inaccessible to him, in which his wife lived always. He was proud that she was so intelligent and good , being conscious of his own insignificance before her in the spiritual world, and rejoiced the more that she, with her soul, not only belonged to him, but made up a part of him. (p. 1172)
general historians will only be gold when they are able to answer the essential question of history: what is power? (p. 1187)
Power is the sum total of the wills of the masses, transferred by express or tacit agreement to rulers chosen by the masses. (p. 1188)
What is the cause of historical events? Power. What is power? Power is the sum total of wills transferred to one person. On what condition are the wills of the masses transferred to one person? On condition that the person express the will of the whole people. That is, power is power. That is, power is a word the meaning of which we do not understand. (p. 1193)
Unless we allow for divine participation in human affairs, we cannot take power as the cause of events. (p. 1194)