Books and Movies Reviews

War and Peace

Tolstoy’s War and Peace evokes powerful contemplation about the meaning of life, of the nature of the human soul, and of the nature of suffering. In these excerpts alone readers can understand what Tolstoy was trying to convey through his characters’ experiences. Both passages address the motif of human flesh: the corporal nature of existence. Through characters like Andrew Tolstoy encourages thought on the relationship between our minds and our bodies and whether or not human beings can or even should transcend their physical realities. Tolstoy is concerned with corporeality and with the effects of pain, pleasure, and all sensations on the human psyche.
Andrew offers compelling reasons to believe that the body is integral to the soul. His physical and sexual passion for Natasha is one way Tolstoy illustrates the effect of the body on the mind, emotions, and spirit of a man. His wartime experiences and his brush with death further drive home the intensity of physical sensations. Through Andrew, Tolstoy shows his readers that sensations, whether pleasurable, painful, or a combination of the two, shape the human spirit. Andrew learns about himself and about life through contact with his body; without being able to feel poignantly the pain and suffering of the battlefield or of romance he would be but a vegetable. However, Andrew struggles with his physicality. He views the body as a vehicle of suffering and finds little pleasure in the physical world. His combat injuries exacerbate what is already a cerebral character who believes himself to be more detached from the mundane world than he really is. Because he is detached from his body so completely Andrew isolates himself from other human beings and cuts himself off to the potential to forge pleasurable human physical bonds. For instance, hisfirst marriage fails and his love for Natasha also dissipates because he does not surrender to the potential for pleasure.
Andrew does grasp th…

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