demonicgerbil: (Default)
[personal profile] demonicgerbil
Over the course of the summer and fall, I've read War and Peace. Yes, that War and Peace. The one everyone makes fun of because it's so long. It turned out to be quite fantastic, with an interesting pace of slow lulls and then ten chapters in a row of amazing things one after another. It's not really written as a novel. The author interjects historical supposition and commentary, and I think the book is actually a large philosophical tract written in the form of a pseudo-novel.

Without giving away the story or touching on the many interesting characters, the author tries to propound on an idea that it is not in fact the 'important people' that make history. That regardless of what Emperor this or Duke that want to do, history is made simply by the collective will of the people. It's not the general's orders that determine the battle, but the natural spirit of the army, the collective of its soldiers that drive it to victory or defeat. Likewise on an even larger scale, individual acts of heroism are quite mad or consist of folly; it is the many innumerable selfish acts of each individual person, trying to live as 'normally' as possible even in a time of crisis, but in responding to stimuli such as the occupation of a city, or an approaching army, that guide the nation, its army, and ultimately its leadership into the roles they play.

Important people then are not so important. They become figureheads for the ebb and flow of history, playing the role they are forced to play as their underlings go about their business quite in disregard for what the important people want them to do. It's certainly, from the perspective of most histories which concentrate on the actions and words of a select few, a rather novel thesis.

Then Friday, while I was more or less all day in a waiting room of one sort of another, I read all of The Island of Doctor Moreau, which was a fun little book. It was also completely unlike, at least in my estimation, either of the movie adaptations I've seen of it (the 30's one with Bela Lugosi and the 90's one with Brando).

I'm going to have to hold off on reading more books for a few days, I've got a lot of work to get back into.

Edit: Side-note: What genius decided to have John Frankenheimer direct The Island of Dr. Moreau anyway? He hadn't made a good movie since what, Grand Prix in '66? He's the man that directed Prophecy ('79) for crying out loud. He should never have been allowed near a camera after that... thing he put on film.
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