Exhibit 1.2.6

I Read This

I Should Get This

Well, okay, probably not a gold medal from the 2006 Winter Olympics, but I feel like I deserve something. I know reading the book is its own reward, but mostly I’m talking about having hauled it to and around Washington D.C. It’s heavy, in other words. And I don’t mean emotionally, I mean it weighs almost as much as my laptop. No, that’s not exactly as memorable as winning the luge, but it’s not so far off either. I’d settle for a bronze from Lillehammer.

As for the book, what can I say that hasn’t been said. It’s great. I prefer the small perfection of Jane Austen–whose work the book greatly resembles through the first two sections–but if you have ever wished she occasionally left the sitting room and wrote epic novels about a bunch of Russians, here’s your book. After those early sections, it’s as much social commentary as it a social novel but only occasionally does it feel didactic (sadly, one of those places is the ending but if you’ve made it that far, I imagine you’ve already given yourself over to it). Tolstoy obviously believes something about peasants and Christianity and hypocrisy and honor, but it’s shocking how beside the point all of that is to understanding the novel. Mostly, it’s hard not to read these portions of the novel without being all too aware of the wave that’s coming through history to take all of these people out. Every time Levin started going on about not educating workers, I screamed, “Look out, they’re coming to kill your children!” at the book.

(By the way, this completely ruined how smart and sensitive I was supposed to look while performatively reading it at coffee shops).

Around all that philosophy though is a really remarkable portrayal of humanity. There’s no overstating it: I can’t think of another book that has so accurately portrayed the human soul. All the contradictions and self-betrayals and doubt and relief–it’s what allows a book like this to transcend its philosophy and its timeliness and give reason to the epic social novel. Yeah, it’s never going to be my favorite kind of novel, but I can certainly understand the appeal of trying to signpost a moment with a monument big enough to be seen through history.

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