online:28 june 2008
modified: 31 may 2008

30 may 2008 late evening, in full summer

re War and Peace by A N Tolstoy

distant view of the garden suburb

...this has been a favourite place since i first ventured here about 18 years ago, soon after coming to live on the south side of the heath (and now that i've come to live on the north side i come here more often).. today i'm sitting on one of the seats beneath oak trees looking across playing fields and hedgerows towards the ancient Ridgeway and other horizons to the northwest...

...the grass is already tall and in seed... the trees are in full leaf... the semi-modernist spire if St Jude's, and the dome of the semi-humanist church behind it, rise into the huge sky above glimpses of the garden suburb amongst the many trees... a helicopter flies over - no doubt at great cost and with great consumption of energy... (this evening it seems irrelevant, or out of place)...

...i breathe deeply in the stillness... i can hear a crow and cricket batsman in the distance... and i realise that to be in such a place is the first step out of a dissatisfied inertia that has prevented me writing more than this and similar notes for several weeks...

...for the last few days i've been exploring Tolstoy's picture of War and Peace... his conception of everything, from warfare to religion, from history to science, from morality to horror... and as i dip in and out of his world, and the worlds of politics and domesticity, of Napoleon and of conquest and defeat, and limits of causality, the vastness and unknowableness of the ultimate causes (if such exist) i am inspired to think likewise (as far as i can) and to enjoy the world as i experience it in a similar connectedness, beyond explanation but nevertheless marvellous... and good...

...the scene is becoming misty and the light diminishes... a woman carrying three bags walks past and when i look up she looks at the ground... i remember that Tolstoy's world includes not only the largest of things and events but the smallest things also, the lives and loves and thoughts of people and animals, and his most attentive and penetrating observations of the psychologies of each of us... and yet he eventually thought this book (and Anna Karenina) a mistake... to be replaced by his instigation of a moralistic cult that, to those who like these books can seem barren and and fanatical and mistaken... and he then saw the writings of Shakespeare as mistaken (perhaps in the same way as he saw these two novels?) each of which has been described as among the best or greatest ever written!

for comfortable line length set the window to about two-thirds of the screen width


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