Picture this. You have finally decided to dust off the copy of War and Peace that has been reproachfully sitting on your bookshelf for over a year. You are excited to finally tackle this behemoth of literature and look forward to speeding through and smugly telling everyone “oh, I’m just reading War and Peace.”
It turns out to be a lot more difficult to slog through this ‘masterpiece’ than you thought it would be. You’ve read Dickens and Eliot and Thackeray without any trouble. Anna Karenina, that other Tolstoy epic, provided you with hours of enjoyment, despite the tragic nature of the work. You push on, determined to finish it (especially since you’ve told everyone you know that you’re reading it and it would be so embarrassing to admit defeat).
You drag it with you on a business trip, doggedly hoping that you will be able to at least make a large dent in it when you are waiting on any number of flights to get you home. You read it on the bus, on the couch, before bed, outside, inside, on cloudy days and sunny ones – any time you have a spare minute you try to get another page, chapter, section finished.
You’ve finally cracked 900 pages. Then 950. You reach 968 and flip ahead to see how many pages you have left to finish the chapter.
And then you notice it. Page 968 should be followed by 969. This turning point scene in an empty Moscow should carry on. Instead, 968 is followed by 1017. It’s not a page numbering error – page 1017 is some kind of ball with some Countess glittering in diamonds.
Your copy of War and Peace is defective!
This is what happened to me. Like any self-respecting reader in the 21st Century I went on Facebook and Twitter to complain about it. And then I emailed the Publisher (Oxford University Press) to demand that they do something to fix it.
I’m Canadian though so that went more like “Hi, sorry to bother you but my book is broken and I’m hoping you may be able to fix it?”
That was last week and I have yet to receive an answer. So far not even a “the system thanks you for your email which will be read never.”
I would take it back to the store where I bought it, but it’s a) beat to hell, b) I have no receipt since c) I bought it last year and d) I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the bookstore’s problem, rather the publisher.
But I haven’t heard anything from them. So I’m left with one option: take it out of the library, read the missing section, and return to my copy to finish it. The silver lining here is that the library is sure to make some sort of “bad-ass reader” notation on my account when I take War and Peace out and return it, read, a couple of days later.
UPDATE: The lovely people at Oxford University Press are totally sending me a new copy of War and Peace with all the pages! The power of social media folks.