Reading lessons

Ta-Nehisi Coates has been having trouble getting to grips with Raymond Chandler. His readers come to the rescue. I wouldn’t mind having that kind of help with Tolstoy. After three attempts, I still haven’t been able to get through “War and Peace”, although I plan to have another go over the Christmas holidays.  “Anna Karenina” sits unfinished on the shelves too, and while I did manage “Hadji Murat” — one of the books in Harold Bloom’s canon —  it was more of a chore than anything else. My loss, I know. It’s not that Russian literature is a complete blind spot — “Fathers & Sons” is a novel I could revisit time and again. But I always feel Tolstoy is, well,  lecturing me. Are the stilted translations to blame? More to the point,  can I ever read him without harbouring irreverent thoughts of “Love and Death”?


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