Writing Language

SAT Writing and Language Practice Test 1

Questions 1-11 refer to the following information.

War and Peace and History

War and Peace (1869) is 1 well-known and famous mainly for its length. Not many readers, especially in the modern day, 2 has the time or the patience to work through Leo Tolstoy's 1,400 pages, countless characters, and plot twists. 3 They are missing a major opportunity, not only because the novel is more fun than its page count suggests, but also because it marks the end of a particular moment in history.

Czech novelist Milan Kundera cited Tolstoy as the last novelist who 4 was possessing the sum of his era's human knowledge. This may seem like an odd claim. Some people may be very intelligent, others may be know-it-alls, but is it really possible to know everything? 5 Neighboring Tolstoy's other great novels and non-fiction writings, a book like War and Peace makes the case that it is possible to know it all, or at least that it was possible. Shakespeare 6 seemed to have an emotional vocabulary that was advanced for his age, but Tolstoy lived in an era of facts and discoveries, and his novels show the fruits of his vast study. 7 Thus, it is conceivable that a man with Tolstoy's leisure, intelligence, and curiosity 8 learns about his age's most current findings in literature, politics, religion, and science.

The very fact that such an achievement is impossible now shows us just how much things have changed since Tolstoy's death in 1910. This was the year, 9 however, that Virginia Woolf cited in her oft-quoted remark, "On or about 1910 human character changed." If we at least entertain the idea that she is correct, we can begin to see why she would be willing to make such a grandiose remark. After 1910, the twentieth century started in earnest. Knowledge became more complex as it became more specialized, and although airplanes seemed to make the world a smaller place, the differences among all the places in that small world truly emerged.

War and Peace is the great document of that pre-1910 era, of a moment when the great scientists were also the 10 famous and great philosophers and when the great mathematicians were also the great theologians. A great discovery in one field could also be a great discovery for another. Although it was certainly remarkable, it was also possible for a man like Tolstoy to have a fundamental grasp of all that united the many branches of knowledge. Tolstoy's achievement is impossible today, but it is a wonderful reminder of the value of intellectual curiosity and cosmopolitanism. No matter how brilliant and refined 11 you may become, you can always stand to be reminded that there is a world outside of our immediate circle.












Share with