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The master piece of Leo Tolstoy (or Tolstoi). War and Peace is considered one of the best books ever written. This book is recommended to every reader and goes far beyond the history lovers only. This edition was specially formatted for Kindle and allows a much easier reading. There are multiple illustrations along the book that allow the reader to understand the personali The master piece of Leo Tolstoy (or Tolstoi). War and Peace is considered one of the best books ever written. This book is recommended to every reader and goes far beyond the history lovers only. This edition was specially formatted for Kindle and allows a much easier reading. There are multiple illustrations along the book that allow the reader to understand the personality and the context of Leo Tolstoy.


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The master piece of Leo Tolstoy (or Tolstoi). War and Peace is considered one of the best books ever written. This book is recommended to every reader and goes far beyond the history lovers only. This edition was specially formatted for Kindle and allows a much easier reading. There are multiple illustrations along the book that allow the reader to understand the personali The master piece of Leo Tolstoy (or Tolstoi). War and Peace is considered one of the best books ever written. This book is recommended to every reader and goes far beyond the history lovers only. This edition was specially formatted for Kindle and allows a much easier reading. There are multiple illustrations along the book that allow the reader to understand the personality and the context of Leo Tolstoy.

30 review for War and Peace: Optimized for ebook. Illustrated

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    So, I know you've all been on edge these past two months, and since I should be studying for the social work licensing exam tonight, it seems like the perfect time to put an end to your suspense. After all my agonizing and the thoughtful suggestions below about whether I should mutilate my gorgeous hardcover Pevear and Volokhonsky translation in the interest of less hazardous subway toting.... Readers, I carried him. All 1272 pages. Every day, across five boroughs and three states, for nearly two So, I know you've all been on edge these past two months, and since I should be studying for the social work licensing exam tonight, it seems like the perfect time to put an end to your suspense. After all my agonizing and the thoughtful suggestions below about whether I should mutilate my gorgeous hardcover Pevear and Volokhonsky translation in the interest of less hazardous subway toting.... Readers, I carried him. All 1272 pages. Every day, across five boroughs and three states, for nearly two months.... So the burning question on your mind is, "Should I risk misalignment and a redislocated shoulder in the interest of preserving a pristine edition that's inevitably going to get all banged up anyway, as I lug it across battlefields and through trenches, for what seems an eternity? Which is more important: the book's spine, or my own?" Bookster, I am here to put an end to all this wondering! Here is what you must do: simply take a keen exacto knife (you might ask a helpful Cossack to sharpen it for you), and slice out the final "Epilogue" portion of this burdensome tome. You will do no damage to the book -- the epilogue's like an appendix (and hey, what the hell, cut that out too) -- as this part is not necessary, and in fact though it's theoretically only about 7% of the book, this portion is actually responsible for at least 63% of its weight. So slice that bitch out, and throw it away! Your vertebrae will thank you later. Another advantage to getting rid of the Epilogue is that it will save you from having to read what is conceivably the most deadly dull and deflating ending to a vast and magnificently readable book, ever written. As a particularly exacting size queen, I demand that the glory of a huge novel's ending be proportional to its length. I feel this is only fair: I was loyal and patient, and devoted many hours to reading the author's story, and at the end I should be rewarded for my fortitude with a glorious finale. That's always been my philosophy, anyway. Apparently, though, it's not Tolstoy's. What is Tolstoy's philosophy, you ask? In particular, what's his philosophy of history? Well, let me tell you! Or better, let him tell you. Cause he will. Over and over. And then again. And then, in case you were interested and wanted to know more, let him REALLY tell you.... and keep telling you.... and tell you some more.... and some more.... no, let him get into it finally now, in great detail. Yeah, Tolstoy's that perfect house guest who crashed on your couch for nearly two months and you're just thrilled as hell the whole time to have him visiting, because he's just such a smart and great and interesting and heartfelt guy. Quel raconteur! Oh, sure, sometimes he gets a bit dull and wonky with his policy ramblings, but that stuff's basically okay. And then yeah, he's got these ideés fixes about history that are fine, you guess, but it's a bit weird how he's always repeating them and focusing on the same points over and over, and he will corner your roommate's friend or a classmate you run into at the supermarket, or an old lady waiting for the bus, to explain yet again why he thinks Napoleon really isn't that great at ALL, yeah, that's odd, but basically Leo is just super, and you're thrilled to have him -- even for such an extended visit -- because he really is so brilliant and diverting and nearly truly worth his weight in gold.... You are sad to know he's going to leave, but then his plane is delayed and you're happy you'll have him there just one more night, but somehow that's the night that he suddenly decides to come back to your house, completely high on cocaine. Leo then proceeds to stay up for hours drinking all your expensive scotch and talking your EAR off about his goddamn PHILOSOPHY of HISTORY that you really just could not care LESS about, and he WILL not leave and let you go to bed, he keeps TALKING, and it's BORING, and apparently he thinks your catatonic stare signals rapt interest, because he just keeps on going, explaining, on and on -- He WILL NOT SHUT UP! It is almost just like being physically tortured, by this guy who you'd thought was the best houseguest in the whole wide world. And so when Leo finally leaves again the next morning -- ragged and bleary and too dazed still to be properly sheepish -- you're not sorry to see him go, in fact you're very glad. And does one annoying night cancel out two months of the great times you had together? Of course it doesn't, and you remember him fondly, and tell anyone who asks how nice it was when he stayed. But the night does carry a special weight because it was the last, and when you remember dear Leo, your wonderful houseguest, your affection will not be totally untainted by the memory of his dull, egotistical, coked-out rantings, the night before he left for real. By which I mean to say, the rest of this book was totally great! As my Great Aunt Dot (who's read this twice) commented, "It's really not a difficult read at all; there's a chapter about War, and then a chapter about Peace, so it never gets boring." War and Peace is hugely entertaining, and largely readable. Plus, it's enormously educational, as you will be forced to learn more than you ever wanted to know about the great Napoleon! (According to Tolstoy, he wasn't that great. No, I mean really, he wasn't that great.) War and Peace is a terrific date book, because it's got lots of bloody action and also tons of romance, plus you can make out during the dull parts where Tolstoy's talking for like twelve pages about various generals and strategies and his nineteenth-centuried out opinions about history. If there's a standard I value more highly than my long-book-great-ending demand, it's the one that I call "Make Me Cry." I don't really think a book's that great unless it makes me cry. (No, this doesn't work in the other direction -- just because a book makes me cry doesn't mean it's great. I've cried at really silly movies before, and I used to cry regularly whenever I read the newspaper, which is one reason I stopped.) War and Peace made me cry like a colicky baby that's been speared with a bayonet, THREE TIMES! I don't mean I misted up or got a little chokey -- I mean I sobbed, wept, and groaned, thoroughly broke down and lost my shit on a very cathartic and soul-rending level. Hooray! I can't guarantee that War and Peace will also make you cry, but I bet if you're prone to that sort of thing, you've got a good shot. GOD this book is good. See, you should really skip the Epilogue, because besides being crushingly dull, it's also very depressing (in the wrong way), and in addition to making you vow never to marry could make you forget how GREAT and AMAZING the rest of this is. What a GREAT and AMAZING book! Holy shit! I'm flipping through now, and it's all coming back to me. This was totally The Wire of 1868: If you like serious character development and plotting that unfolds over a long period of time, you should seriously read this book. I really didn't know much about this book before I read it, but I think I remember someone -- Jane Smiley? -- writing that War and Peace is about everything. I wouldn't go along with that (I'm not sure if she would either), but it is about most of the things that really matter. If you are someone who thinks at all about life or death, you might like this book. Here is a passage, from a character who's a POW marching barefoot through Russia in October: In captivity in the shed, [he] had learned, not with his mind, but with his whole being, his life, that man is created for happiness, that happiness is within him, in the satisfying of human needs, and that all unhappiness comes not from lack, but from superfluity; but now, in these last three weeks of the march, he had learned a new and more comforting truth -- he had learned that there is nothing frightening in the world. He had learned that, as there is no situation in the world in which a man can be happy and perfectly free, so there is no situation in which he can be perfectly unhappy and unfree. He had learned that there is a limit to suffering and a limit to freedom, and that those limits are very close; that the man who suffers because one leaf is askew in his bed of roses, suffers as much as he now suffered falling asleep on the bare, damp ground, one side getting cold as the other warmed up; that when he used to put on his tight ballroom shoes, he suffered just as much as now, when he walked quite barefoot (his shoes had long since worn out) and his feet were covered with sores. (p. 1060) I just think that's great. Maybe it's not, out of context.... Anyway, one of the best things about reading this is how much of it is so strange -- Russia! 1812! OMFG! all so different! -- and how much is the same. The nuance, specificity, and instant recognizability of the characters in here is pretty amazing. I know this sounds dumb, but you really feel like you know these people, and in a way it's the minor characters -- Sonya, Anatole, Dolokhov (my favorite!) -- who are so perfectly drawn, and make you go, "Man! I know these people! Woah!" I did appreciate having to think about war while reading this, because that's something I've never really done before. At the beginning I'd hoped that this would help me understand more about why wars happen, but it didn't. That might have been what Tolstoy was trying to explain in his Epilogue, but I have to confess that at that point, I wasn't really listening. Anyway, I liked this book. It is long, though.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Whitaker

    When I was growing up, the conventional wisdom was that War and Peace was the sine qua non of difficult books: the scope, the length, OMG the length! Conquering this Everest was The Test of whether you were a Man/Reader. I have now read it. Thump chest and make Tarzan yell. Actually, you know chump, big deal. The mountain really wasn't so large after all. There are love affairs, there is a war, peace eventually returns to the Shire Russia. Sorry, got confused there for a minute with Lord of the When I was growing up, the conventional wisdom was that War and Peace was the sine qua non of difficult books: the scope, the length, OMG the length! Conquering this Everest was The Test of whether you were a Man/Reader. I have now read it. Thump chest and make Tarzan yell. Actually, you know chump, big deal. The mountain really wasn't so large after all. There are love affairs, there is a war, peace eventually returns to the Shire Russia. Sorry, got confused there for a minute with Lord of the Rings, another 1,000+ page work where there are love affairs, war and an eventual peace. (That's hardly a spoiler by the way. Not unless you've been hiding under a rock and don't know that Napoleon didn't succeed in conquering Russia.) Which is my point: With every half-penny fantasy potboiler these days weighing in at several hundred kilogrammes of war and peace (*cough*Wheel of Time*cough*), how can we still look at a book this size and feel fear? 1,000+ pages? Only? Pshaw! That's nuthin!. Spit out t'baccy chaw. And yet, the notion still lives on about how HARD War and Peace is. So, if anyone out there still buys into that, is intimidated and deterred by that notion, well, really, don't be (unless, of course, the last thing you read was Green Eggs and Ham). The thing is, to my surprise, I found it a rollicking good read. There are star-crossed lovers, suicide attempts, heart-rending death bed scenes, and battles aplenty where our heroes get knocked on the head and taken prisoner. Instead of Middle Earth, you get a fantasy-land of wholesome, loving Peasant Russia and you learn how True Self comes from Loving the Russian Soil. Okay, there's also the rather irritating and interminable philosophizing by Tolstoy about History and Its Causes, but you got through the interminable side songs in Lord of Rings didn't you? In case any of you are thinking that I'm mocking War and Peace by this comparison, please note that it's not intended to be (wholly) facetious. I loved Lord of the Rings. If anything I'm mocking the awe with which we approach "Great Works". So, yeah, if you ever thought of reading War and Peace but were put off by its reputation, don't be. It's actually quite fun.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dolors

    Before I turned the last page of this massive volume, which had been neglected in my bookshelves for more than six years, War and Peace was a pending task in my mental reading universe knowing it to be one of the greatest Russian or maybe simply one of the greatest novels of all times. Well, in fact, it was something else. I have a selective memory, I don’t know whether it comes as a blessing or as a curse, that enables me to remember the most insignificant details like for instance, where and wh Before I turned the last page of this massive volume, which had been neglected in my bookshelves for more than six years, War and Peace was a pending task in my mental reading universe knowing it to be one of the greatest Russian or maybe simply one of the greatest novels of all times. Well, in fact, it was something else. I have a selective memory, I don’t know whether it comes as a blessing or as a curse, that enables me to remember the most insignificant details like for instance, where and when I bought my books, which are often second hand copies. When I pull one of them off my shelves it usually comes loaded with recollections of a certain moment of my life that add up to the mute history of their usually worn and yellow pages. So, War and Peace was also a memory. This one had to do with an unusual cloudless and shiny afternoon spent in Greenwich Park eating the greatest take-away noodles I had ever tasted and browsing through my newest literary purchases, recently bought in one of those typical British second-hand bookshops, where I spent hours besotted with that particular scent of moldy ancient paper. That’s what War and Peace meant to me until I finally shook my sloth off and decided to read it. It turns out I rather lived than read it, or maybe the book read me, but in any case, I curse my lazy self for not having taken the plunge much sooner. This book is an electroshock for the soul. There is no division between Tolstoy’s art and his philosophy, just as there is no way to separate fiction from discussions about history in this novel. Without a unifying theme, without so much a plot or a clear ending, War and Peace is a challenge to the genre of the novel and to narrative in history. Tolstoy groped toward a different truth- one that would capture the totality of history, as it was experienced, and teach people how to live with its burden. Who am I?, What do I live for?, Why was I born? These are existential questions on the meaning of life that restlessly impregnate this “novel”, which also deals with the responsibility of the individual, who has to strive against the dichotomy of free will as opposed to the influence of the external world, in the course of history. Fictional and historical characters blend naturally in the narration, which occasionally turns into a reasoned philosophical digression, exploring the way individual lives affect the progress of history, challenging the nature of truth accepted by modern historians. Tostoy’s syntax is unconventional. He frequently ignores the rules of grammar and word order, deliberately reiterating mannerisms or physical details to identify his characters, suggesting their moral qualities. He uses several languages gradually changing their sense, especially with French, which eventually emerges as the language of artifice and insincerity, the language of the theater and deceit whereas Russian appears as the language of honesty and seriousness and the reader becomes a privileged witness of the formation of a community and national consciousness. In repeating words and phrases, a rhythm and rhetorical effect is achieved, strengthening the philosophical pondering of the characters. I was emotionally enraptured by the scene in which Count Bezukhov asks himself what’s the meaning of love when he glances at the smiling face of Natasha or when Prince Andrey lies wounded in Austerlitz battlefield looking up at the endless firmament, welcoming the mystery of death and mourning for his hapless and already fading life. The book is full of memorable scenes which will remain imprinted in my retina, eternal flashing images transfixing me quite: the beauty of Natasha’s uncovered shoulders emerging from her golden dress, the glow of bonfires lit by kid-soldiers in the night before a battle, the agony of men taken prisoners and the absent faces of circumstantial executioners while shooting their fellowmen, the unbearable pain of a mother when she learns of her son’s death, a silent declaration of love in a dancing embrace full of youth and promise… War and Peace is much more than a novel. It is a vast, detailed account - maybe even a sort of diary or a confession- of a world about to explode in constant contradiction where two ways of being coexist: war and peace. Peace understood not only as the absence of war, but mainly as the so much coveted state in which the individual gets hold of the key to his identity and happiness, achieving harmonious communion with others along the way. Now that I have finally read this masterpiece, I think I can better grasp what this “novel” represents among all the great works of art created by men throughout our venturesome existence: the Sistine Chapel or the 9th Symphony of Literature, an absolute triumph of the creative mind, of the spirit of humankind and a virtuous affirmation of human life in all its richness and complexity. My battered copy of War and Peace and I have fought many battles together, hand in hand. We have been gently soaked by the descent of moist beads in the misty drizzle at dawn in Paracas. We have been splashed by the salty waves of the Pacific Ocean only to be dried off later by the sandy wind blowing from the dunes of the Huacachina Desert. We have been blessed by the limpid droplets dripping down from branches of Eucalyptus Trees in the Sacred Valley of the Incas and scorched by the blinding sunbeams in Nazca. Particles of ourselves were left behind, dissolved into the damp shroud of grey mist falling from the melting sky in MachuPicchu, and whatever remained of us tried to breathe in deeply the fragrant air of those dark, warm nights spent under scintillating stars scattered endlessly down the Peruvian sky. With wrinkled pages, tattered covers and unglued spine, my copy of War and Peace has managed to come back home. I have just put it back reverently on my bookshelf for literary gems, where I can spot it at first glance. An unbreakable connection has been established between us as fellow travellers, as wanderers of the world. Somehow, we have threaded our own unique history; an unrepeatable path has been laid down for us. The story of this particular shabby copy comes to an end though, because I won’t ever part from it. My copy of War and Peace has come back home, where I intent to keep it, now for good. No more war for these battered pages but everlasting peace emanating from my shelves for all times to come. My traveling companion in MachuPicchu.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Whatever else I am, I am the type of person who reads classic novels out of a sense of obligation. Also, I must admit, out of a sense of vanity. My ego, after all, is as fragile as a goldfish and requires the constant attention of a newborn baby. Every once in awhile, it needs a little boost, and the intellectual challenge of Dostoevsky or Dickens can really work wonders. Now, I’ve been told that forcing myself to read books I don’t necessarily like is a fruitless waste of time (and that the rev Whatever else I am, I am the type of person who reads classic novels out of a sense of obligation. Also, I must admit, out of a sense of vanity. My ego, after all, is as fragile as a goldfish and requires the constant attention of a newborn baby. Every once in awhile, it needs a little boost, and the intellectual challenge of Dostoevsky or Dickens can really work wonders. Now, I’ve been told that forcing myself to read books I don’t necessarily like is a fruitless waste of time (and that the reviews borne of these endeavors are a fruitless waste of others’ time). That kind of criticism doesn’t go far with me. By my rough estimate, just about 99% of the things I do can be similarly classified as a waste of time, unless my endless games of Spider Solitaire, like “the button” on LOST, is actually saving the world. In which case I am a hero. Moreover, great literature can be a worthwhile challenge to surmount. Compare them to mountains. Obviously, we don’t need people to climb mountains; it serves no functional purpose. Yet, on a personal level, climbing a mountain (even if it’s just a Class 3 walk-up) is immensely satisfying, mentally and physically. On some level, it’s the same with finishing a tough book. (Mentally, that is. There is very little physical component, unless you defenestrate the book upon completion). War and Peace is a challenge I set for myself. It was a challenge a long time coming. The reason, of course, is that War and Peace is the go-to book when looking for an example of great literature, or for a contender for “greatest novel ever written.” If it is not exactly Everest or K2 (those are Joycean heights), it is at least comparable to Annapurna or Mount McKinley. In the end, it is a book I wrestled with constantly. Unlike Doris from Goodbye, Columbus, I never considered quitting, only to start back up again the following year. However, there were times my frustrations almost led me to tear huge swaths of pages from the binding, as a primitive editing job. Like so many of the things you are told, as a child, are magical – the circus, love, magic – War and Peace did not entirely live up to its reputation. If you were to ask me, would you rather retreat from Moscow in the dead of winter than read this book, I would say: "Of course not. I don’t like walking, I don’t like being hungry, and I’d probably die.” But if I had to choose between, say, tarring the driveway or mowing the lawn and reading this book... Again, I’d choose the book. Nothing beats reading. Besides, I’m lazy. Where to start? With a (second) rhetorical question: What's War and Peace about? It's a good question, and nobody really knows. (Though many will attempt to explain). There have been longer books – both you and I have read them – but this is 1,200 pages that feels like 1,345,678,908 pages. Nominally, it's about Russia's wars with Napoleonic France from 1804 to 1813. If that seems like a big subject, don’t worry, Tolstoy has given himself plenty of space with which to work. It follows dozens of characters in and out of the decades, as they live and die, love and hate, and generally stun the modern reader with their obtuseness. The first sixty pages of the novel are a set piece in the Petersburg salon of Anna Pavlovna. You don't have to remember that, though, because Anna Pavlovna will only stick around these first sixty pages, then disappear for almost the entire rest of the book. We are also introduced to Pierre, who is, literally, a fat bastard; Prince Andrei, who is a prick; his wife Lisa, the little princess, who as Tolstoy keeps telling us, has a beautiful mustache (Tolstoy's obsession with beautiful female mustaches is pathological, and not a little frightening); Prince Vassily, who also disappears after a squabble over a will; and various other Russian aristocrats. Readers note: you should probably be writing things down as you read. Other introductions come later, including Andrei's father, who is also a prick (apple, meet the tree); Andrei's insufferably "good" and "pure" and "decent" and "homely" sister, Princess Marya, who's goodness is as cloying and infuriating as that of Esther is Bleak House; Natasha Rostov, who is sort of a tramp, much like Anna Karenina except that she is redeemed through suffering (unlike Anna, who is redeemed through mass transit); Nikolai Rostov, a young prince who goes to war; Sonya, the simple, poor girl Nikolai loves, etc. I could go on, but it wouldn't make sense if you haven't read the book. It barely makes sense after you've finished. Unless, of course, you’ve kept good notes. Anyway, Pierre, the bastard, is left his father's estate, and so becomes a rich count. He marries Helene, who is another of Tolstoy's harlots, though she gets her comeuppance, Anna Karenina-style. (There are two types of women in Tolstoy’s world: the impossibly pure-hearted and the whorish. Subtlety is not a Russian trait). Prince Andrei goes to war. Nikolai goes to war. They fight. Everyone else talks. An enjoyably characterized Napoleon flits briefly across this crowded stage, tugging on people's ears. The Rostov's have financial difficulties. Nikolai can't decide who to marry. Pierre has several dozen crises of conscience. At one point he becomes a Mason; at another, he tries to assassinate Napoleon. At all times he is thinking, always thinking; there are approximately 500 pages devoted to Pierre's existential duress. (How I wished for Pierre to throw himself beneath a train!) There is an old saying that “if the world could write…it would write like Tolstoy. That’s one way of viewing War and Peace. It has a canvas as big as Russia, and within its pages are dizzying high and nauseating lows and bland, lukewarm middles. The bottom line before I go on, Tolstoy-style, is that I was disappointed. My main criticism is the unfortunate mishmash of fictional narrative with historical essay. You're reading the book, right? (Or maybe listening to it on a long commute). And you're finally getting a hang of who each character is (because you’ve taken my advice and sketched out a character list), which is difficult when each person is called multiple things, and some have nicknames, and others have similiar-looking patronymics. But that's okay, you've moved past that. Suddenly, you're coasting along. The story is moving forward. Napoleon has crossed the Danube. There is drama. Finally, people are going to stop with the internal monologues and start shooting each other! I might actually like this! And then, with an almost audible screech, like the brakes a train, Tolstoy brings the whole thing to a shuddering halt with a pedantic digression on the topic of History (with a capital H) and free will and military tactics and Napoleon's intelligence. These digressions do several things. First, and most importantly, they seriously disrupt the narrative. All rhythm and timing is thrown off, which is exactly what happened to all my school concerts when I used to play the snare drum. I knew enough to quit the snare drum to focus on the recorder. Tolstoy, though, plunges on obliviously, casting all notions of structure aside. You lose sight of the characters for hundreds of pages. Instead of wondering what happens next, you start to wonder things like where am I? and how long have I been sleeping?. It tells you something when you actually start to miss Pierre's endless internal psychobabbling. Second, the essays are Tolstoy at his stupidest (at least in my opinion; this is more a philosophical gripe). He believes that people have no control; that History is a force all its own, and that we act according to History's push and pull. Tolstoy says, in effect, that Napoleon is stupid, but that his enemies were stupider, but that doesn't matter, because they were all doing what they had to do, because History made them. This is all very...much a waste of time. Tolstoy goes to far as to attempt to prove this argument algebraically. Yeah, that's just what I wanted: Math! Tolstoy's argument breaks down like this: 1. Someone does something. 2. Someone else reacts in a way that makes no sense. 3. Therefore, History is controlling things. The fundamental flaw, of course, is that Tolstoy's argument really boils down to nothing more than hindsight. Sitting in his armchair, decades after the fact, having never been on those battlefields, Tolstoy decides that the players on the scene acted dumbly, and he attributes that to cosmic events. A battle isn't lost because of bad roads, or obscured vision, or a shortage of ammunition (which are realities in all warfare, but even more prevalent in the 19th century). No, in Tolstoy's mind, it’s the Universe unfolding according to its whim. Tolstoy also has a real axe to grind with Napoleon and he doesn’t hesitate to inflate his word count letting you know about it. (I suppose Tolstoy can be forgiven for hating Napoleon, but still, the book is 1,200 pages long. Enough). His analysis of the Corsican corporal is reductive and unenlightening. Napoleon was a lot of things (short, funny looking, brilliant, cruel, petty, brilliant, ambitious, oddly-shaped) but "stupid" was not among them. Yet, there were moments when I loved this novel. Every once in awhile, War and Peace comes alive in that classic way; after plodding through a turgid essay, you’ll suddenly come upon a passage that's drawn so vividly you will remember it forever. There is the battle of Austerlitz, which is impeccably researched (so much so that a narrative history I read on the subject actually cites to Tolstoy) and thrillingly told, especially the fight of Captain Tushin's battery. There is Prince Andrei, wounded on the field of Austerlitz, staring up at "the infinite sky," realizing that he's never really looked at it before. There is Pierre, realizing he is in love with Natasha as he gazes at the stars and glimpses the comet of 1812. There is Napoleon suffering a cold on the eve of Borodino. There is Andrei watching a cannon ball land at his feet, its fuse hissing... There is Petya, the young adjutant, who rides to his doom chasing the French during their retreat. Every once in awhile, there will also be something clever, showing you that Tolstoy isn't just wordy, but also inventive. For instance, there's a scene in which Tolstoy describes the thoughts of an old oak tree. Indeed! Among the hundreds of characters, there's even a tree. I was also fond of a passage in which General Kutuzov, the Russian commander, holds a meeting in a peasant's house to discuss abandoning Moscow. Tolstoy tells this story from the point of view of a little peasant girl who, in her mind, calls Kutuzov "grandfather." (It's cute, but Kutuzov was no kindly old man. He was an indifferent drunk. The night before Austerlitz, he allegedly engaged in a four-some with three of the "comfort women" he brought with him on campaigns. Unfortunately, despite writing 1,200 pages, Tolstoy doesn't find space to devote to this occurrence). The good, though, is surrounded by the bad or the boring. The flyleaf of the book said that Pierre, Natasha, and Andrei were three of the most dynamic characters in literature. I don't think so. Aside from Andrei, I was mostly unimpressed with the main characters (Napoleon was fun, in an over-the-top bit part). Pierre is a boob and a bore, and his sudden heroics during the burning of Moscow come from nowhere. Natasha is a flake. She's the stereotypical girl plucking the daisy: I love him; I love him not; I love him... The end of the novel is (like Anna Karenina) a huge anti-climatic letdown. As we approach the final pages, Tolstoy gives us a description of the battle of Borodino. It is a masterpiece of military fiction. The research and verisimilitude. The vividness. Pierre's confrontation with the Frenchman in the redoubt: Now they will stop it, now they will be horrified at what they have done, he thought, aimlessly going toward a crowd of stretcher bearers moving from the battlefield. Tolstoy’s Borodino is actually one of the great battle scenes I've ever read; afterwards, though, things fall of a cliff. There is no slow decline into mediocrity; no, it happens at the turn of the page. It’s like Tolstoy suddenly stopped taking steroids. In an unseemly rush, Tolstoy has Napoleon move into Moscow, Moscow burns, Napoleon retreats. All of this occurs indirectly, through digression-filled essays on History. The characters recede into the background; all narrative vitality disappears. There are only a couple exceptions: one scene of the city burning, followed by one (admittedly powerful) scene of the French executing supposed arsons. During the French retreat, there is not a single visceral moment depicting their hard, frozen march. Instead we get Tolstoy nattering on about Napoleon’s stupidity. Then come the Epilogues. When I reached them, I felt a bit like a cowboy in one of those old westerns who is riding across the desert and finds a well, except the well is dry and full of snakes and then an Indian shoots him with an arrow. We will never know the fates of the dozens of characters we've followed for the previous thousand pages. Tolstoy leaves their destinies to the imagination so that he can rant. It’s a stupefying literary decision, and reminded me of nothing so much as my Uncle Ed on Thanksgiving after five glasses of wine: You can't get him to shut up. Except at Thanksgiving, Uncle Ed usually passes out by the fourth quarter of the Cowboys game. Not Tolstoy. Not even death can quiet him. War and Peace was an experience. There were times I envisioned myself reaching the end, spiking the book like a football, and then doing some sort of victory dance around the splayed pages. When I got there, though, I simply sighed, leaned back in my chair, and thought: At least this was better than Moby Dick.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This is one of those books that can be life-changing. I read this as a teenager and I remember exactly where I was (sitting on my bed, in my grandmother's house, in southern Germany) when I finished it. I must have spent an hour just staring out the window, in awe of the lives I'd just led, the experiences I'd just had. **** I'm now re-reading this, enjoying it immensely and no doubt appreciating it much more than I did the first time. Tolstoy has the most amazing ability to make us feel, when he This is one of those books that can be life-changing. I read this as a teenager and I remember exactly where I was (sitting on my bed, in my grandmother's house, in southern Germany) when I finished it. I must have spent an hour just staring out the window, in awe of the lives I'd just led, the experiences I'd just had. **** I'm now re-reading this, enjoying it immensely and no doubt appreciating it much more than I did the first time. Tolstoy has the most amazing ability to make us feel, when he zooms out and examines historical events, that the individual is nothing--and then when he zooms in and paints intimate portraits of his characters, that the individual is everything. Breathtaking. By the way, I'm reading the Anthony Briggs translation (Penguin Classics), and it's marvelous. I'm quite picky when it comes to translations and this is one of the best I've read. It's in the sweeping battle scenes that Tolstoy shows how insignificant the individual really is--how even generals and emperors are at the mercy of random and unpredictable events. Then when Tolstoy switches to the intimate drawing room scenes, the entire perspective shifts, and nothing matters more than the individual consciousness that he depicts. The juxtaposition of these two feelings is just, well, genius! I'd forgotten how mystical Tolstoy gets with respect to Pierre's "conversion" or "enlightenment" or "getting religion." It's fascinating how Pierre becomes animated by these great ideas and that's a sign of his maturity, whereas Prince Andrey matures in an almost opposite way: by eschewing his former great ideas regarding military heroism and focusing instead (at this point in the narrative) on his baby son. The contrapuntal movement of Pierre and Andrey's development is only highlighted when they're together, debating whether one ought to try to improve people's lives (Pierre) or just focus on one's own happiness and leave the world alone (Andrey). It's actually a profound debate, which then ends when Andrey beholds the vast sky again and something stirs inside him, something long dormant, and we as readers can't help anticipating that Andrey will be "back." *** One of the great glories of reading War and Peace is to encounter, in a novel, characters struggling with serious philosophical issues--not as airy abstractions but rather in terms of how they ought to live. Pierre and Prince Andrey are the prime examples of this. I kept thinking, as I read the sections in which they struggle earnestly with such questions, that contemporary American fiction has precious little of this. I wonder if it's because we've all drunk the kool-aid that says "show, don't tell," making contemporary novelists shy away from such material. But this little mantra, while seemingly objective, renders entire realms of fiction off-limits. Tolstoy is constantly "telling" us what Pierre and Andrey are thinking, and the novel is so much better for it. *** Tolstoy's "peace" is of course anything but: it's full of anticipation and intrigue and philosophical yearning, from the bursting bewildering sallies of youth (Natasha) to the resigned feeling that life isn't what you dreamed when you were young, and perhaps you aren't either (Pierre). The deftness and sheer range of human drama is staggering. And the war, when it returns, is no abstract matter. Everywhere there are people caught up in this great event, bewildered by it. Here's Rostov on seeing the French officer he's brought down: "This pale, mud-stained face of a fair-haired young man with a dimple on his chin and bright blue eyes had no business with battlefields; it was not the face of an enemy; it was a domestic, indoor face." Rostov can't help seeing him as a human being, and in that moment his "enthusiasm suddenly drained away." It's interesting how, when Rostov chases the French officer on horseback, he thinks about the wolf hunt he was recently on. When I read the scene of the hunt, where the hunters capture the old She-Wolf and her cubs, I couldn't help feeling sorry for those animals, for that animal family hunted for pure sport. I wondered how that scene would come back into the narrative because of the obvious symbolic weight of it, and here it is, in the scene of war. The characters hadn't empathized with the She-Wolf in the same way that Rostov does with the French officer, but I wonder if we're meant to anyway, or at least be made somewhat uncomfortable (as I was) by such sport-killing, perhaps seeing it as a prelude to another kind of sport-killing altogether: namely war. *** Tolstoy can't help wearing his patriotism on his sleeve a bit, as he describes Napoleon's advance and the rival Moscow social circles, one of which has eschewed anything French while the other clings to its Francophile ways. Of course the French-speaking social circle is that of Helene, who's cold and manipulative and whose brother schemed to snatch away Natasha in such, well, French fashion. But this is no bald tale of Russian virtue and French perfidy. Tolstoy is finely attuned to the chaos of war and to the humans that engage in it, so much more alike than not as everyone tries simply to survive and perhaps claim a little glory in the end. *** I love how Tolstoy peppers his narrative with keen insights into human nature. Here he is, when describing the attitude of Muscovites on the approach of Napoleon: "At the first approach of danger two voices always speak out with equal force in a man's heart: one tells him very sensibly to consider the exact extent of the danger and any means of avoiding it; the other says even more sensibly that it's too wearisome and agonizing to contemplate the danger, since it is not in a man's power to anticipate future events and avoid the general run of things, so you might as well turn away from the nastiness until it hits you, and dwell on things that are pleasant." *** Tolstoy describes the cavalcade of human affairs as well as anyone, and the evacuation of Moscow is a great example of it: so many little stories described with the deftest brushstrokes. The irony and humor also shine through when he describes Berg's ridiculous recitation of war stories or Count Rostov's childlike diffidence when it comes to the issue of whether they should empty their wagons of belongings in order to make room for wounded soldiers. *** Hurtling toward the end now, and Tolstoy is hammering his theme that the individual is a slave to fate and mysterious forces. This adds much irony to his tale, and some biting commentary as well, as when he says: "These man, carried away by their passions, were nothing more than the blind executors of the saddest law of necessity; but they saw themselves as heroes, and mistook their doings for achievements of the highest virtue and honour." *** In the final pages the scenes return to domestic life full of family, as the war generation ages and their children are born. So many mixed emotions in the characters and in me, the reader, as our story ebbs to a close, as this towering and monumental work of art draws ever nearer to silence. "Memento mori," the characters are described as feeling in the face of an old countess, and the same can be said of this entire work, which is a testament to the fragility and beauty and fleetingness of life itself. *** And then, finally, we see Pierre and Natasha together, but the last lines of the dramatic narrative belong to young Nikolay, Prince Andrey's son, who thinks: "Father! Father! Yes, I'm going to do something even he would have been pleased with." Tolstoy then delves more directly into a philosophical treatise on free will, capping his narrative with the final summation that "it is no less essential to get away from a false sensation of freedom and accept a dependence that we cannot feel." *** With that, the book closes, and I feel again what a monumental work I've just encountered. I'll spend many days and weeks pondering these pages, recalling little scenes and thinking about Tolstoy's grand arguments. The scope is breathtaking and profound, yet on every page you feel the frantic beating of the human heart. Despite all its spiritual claims, it's a deeply humanistic work.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    So... I did it. I finally convinced myself to read War and Peace, partly because it's just something everyone wants to say they've done, and partly because one always needs a good excuse to procrastinate during the exam period when I should have been studying. And, you know what, I really enjoyed most of it. The novel is far less taxing than I imagined, I don't know if that's because the English translation goes easy on us non-Russians or because Tolstoy wrote it in a quite light-hearted fashion So... I did it. I finally convinced myself to read War and Peace, partly because it's just something everyone wants to say they've done, and partly because one always needs a good excuse to procrastinate during the exam period when I should have been studying. And, you know what, I really enjoyed most of it. The novel is far less taxing than I imagined, I don't know if that's because the English translation goes easy on us non-Russians or because Tolstoy wrote it in a quite light-hearted fashion. I suspect I shall never find that out for myself. Personally, I think a much better title for this book would be War and People. Because, though an in-depth look at history during the time Napoleon had ambitions to take over Europe, this is first and foremost about humanity and Tolstoy observes humanity and all its weirdness with a sense of humour and occasionally sadness. I don't like to make too many predictions about the older authors, some people will tell you that Bram Stoker was a feminist and William Shakespeare was a humanist, I think these are quite melodramatic conclusions to make about authors who lived in societies where they would struggle to be that. However, Tolstoy may or may not consider himself liberal, forward-thinking, a humanist, and I wouldn't state that he is any of those things. But I think his perception of the human condition in the nineteenth century shows he is somewhat before his time in his ability to see almost every character as flawed, confusing but ultimately human. He manages to construct a comphrehensive view of humanity and Russian culture at the time in question, complete with betrayals and scandals and affairs. But though the characters may place blame on one another - like calling Natasha a hussy - Tolstoy appears to remain impartial. Those who stray from the conservative path of the nineteenth century do not do so without reason. Another reason that War and People is a much better title for this book is because there is very little peace going on in here. There are times when the battles aren't raging, of course, but there is always something equally dramatic happening within the social world of Russian high society. People falling in and out of love, people having affairs, wealthy aristocrats dying and leaving their fortune to illegitimate sons. It seems to me that there's a constant war going on in this book, just sometimes it isn't on the battlefield. And oddly enough, it was the real wars in War and Peace that interested me least of all. They were probably the reason this book got four stars instead of five - and because goodreads rating system is about personal enjoyment rather than literary merit. I felt much more entertained by the soap opera that was the lives of the Russian nobles than by the tedious and repetitive battle scenes. There were guns and canons and horses - riveting. But thankfully, like I said, Tolstoy's masterpiece is more about people than anything else and this is the reason that I saw this book through and enjoyed the journey.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hossam Arafat

    أحد كلاسيكيات الأدب الروسي و أشهر ما كتب تولستوي يُدخل تولستوي القارئ في عالمه الذي نسجه من خيوط الواقع التاريخي، يقف معه على عتبات القصور ليشهد الحفلات التي تعكس نمط حياة طبقة الأمراء والنبلاء الفرنسيين والروس، واقفاً على نمطية تفكيرهم مسترسلاً في الأجواء التاريخية التي استدعى تولستوي من خلالها أحداث الحرب ليجيد في وصف ساحاتها وجنودها وقوادها وعتادها وعدّتها حتى يخيل للقارئ سماعه قرع السيوف وصهيل الخيول وصوت أزيز العربات. يعيش معه حتى صخب النصر ومرارة الانكسار لينحاز أكثر إلى مشاعر الإنسان المن أحد كلاسيكيات الأدب الروسي و أشهر ما كتب تولستوي يُدخل تولستوي القارئ في عالمه الذي نسجه من خيوط الواقع التاريخي، يقف معه على عتبات القصور ليشهد الحفلات التي تعكس نمط حياة طبقة الأمراء والنبلاء الفرنسيين والروس، واقفاً على نمطية تفكيرهم مسترسلاً في الأجواء التاريخية التي استدعى تولستوي من خلالها أحداث الحرب ليجيد في وصف ساحاتها وجنودها وقوادها وعتادها وعدّتها حتى يخيل للقارئ سماعه قرع السيوف وصهيل الخيول وصوت أزيز العربات. يعيش معه حتى صخب النصر ومرارة الانكسار لينحاز أكثر إلى مشاعر الإنسان المنقاد إلى مصير مجهول في حرب فرضت عليه رواية رائعة و لا يعاب عليها سوى طولها المبالغ فيه و أسترسال تولستوي أحياناً في الوصف بشكل يبعد القارئ عن الخط الرئيسي للأحداث

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joey Woolfardis

    Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003. I read this in tandem with the spectacular BBC adaptation and I will say now that my enjoyment of this piece of literature has been heavily influenced by that wonderful piece of televisual art. It just has. It's the same story, just told a different way. I will refrain from telling you to get over it. Now, the book. It was written well, very well, in terms of all the stuff that should be done well: pu Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003. I read this in tandem with the spectacular BBC adaptation and I will say now that my enjoyment of this piece of literature has been heavily influenced by that wonderful piece of televisual art. It just has. It's the same story, just told a different way. I will refrain from telling you to get over it. Now, the book. It was written well, very well, in terms of all the stuff that should be done well: punctuation, spelling, grammar, and all that. There were some typos but that will be down to the publisher and not the writer. However, we'll deal with the negatives first: it had some of the most tedious moments in a book I've ever come across. I realise the war was a very important thing, but my gosh Tolstoy was dire at writing of soldiers and fighting. I didn't enjoy those sections nearly half as much as I could have, which directly contributes to it not being-and never becoming-a perfect story. He was also well versed in tangents: I understand his intention of the book was exactly what he produced, but we can say that every writer produces their intention when they write a book so in this case I will say that I don't care about the authors intentions at all here. There were also far too many characters. It's a nice idea to give everyone-including someone randomly delivering a letter-a name and a story, a background and a face, but for the reader it is too much. But, that ending. I loved the ending (I preferred the BBC ending, but that's just me being all romantic) and I thought it was so fitting. I was happy-in a very understanding and moral way-with all of the deaths and thought they were all completely relevant to the whole piece. Perhaps they all came a little too at once and suddenly, but altogether they settled the whole affair so nicely. I found the romance of Princess Mary and the one of Pierre to both be very pleasing. And I shall speak of Pierre now. How I love Pierre. He was, forgive me for saying this, quite English in his manner and that was delightful. I will refrain from going on about him, but I thought every description of him was just so wonderful: I very rarely get so clear a picture of a character in my mind (whilst I thought Paul Dano played him well, he did not embody the exact physical nature of Pierre that was conjured from the reading) and my favourite moment will always be when Prince Andrew looks out and sees Pierre trip and stumble. I also loved it for teaching me more of history than I ever knew. To be very frank, I never even knew that Napoleon had invaded or even fought Russia: I suppose that is the curse of being English. We learn of our splendid Nelson but not much else. I find that literature fills in the gaps that education leaves, gaping wide and hollow. If you've ever had any misgivings about this book purely based on length, please refrain from those thoughts. It is divided nicely in to chapters, books and parts that you can easily place it down for a while, leave it and come back very happily. It doesn't take all that long to get through, either. It is one of those myths that precedes, unfairly, on the work. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Shop | Etsy

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    857. ВОИНА И МИР = War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, which is regarded as a central work of world literature and one of Tolstoy's finest literary achievements. جنگ و صلح - لئو ن. تولستوی (نیلوفر) ادبیات روسیه؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: در سال 1978 میلادی عنوان: جنگ و صلح ؛ نویسنده: ل. (لی یف) ن. (نیکالایویچ) تولستوی؛ مترجم: کاظم انصاری؛ تهران، صفیعلیشاه، 1334، در چهار جلد؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان روسیه - قرن 19 م مترجمین دیگر این اثر: بانوان محترم: ش 857. ВОИНА И МИР = War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, which is regarded as a central work of world literature and one of Tolstoy's finest literary achievements. جنگ و صلح - لئو ن. تولستوی (نیلوفر) ادبیات روسیه؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: در سال 1978 میلادی عنوان: جنگ و صلح ؛ نویسنده: ل. (لی یف) ن. (نیکالایویچ) تولستوی؛ مترجم: کاظم انصاری؛ تهران، صفیعلیشاه، 1334، در چهار جلد؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان روسیه - قرن 19 م مترجمین دیگر این اثر: بانوان محترم: شهلا انسانی؛ و سوسن اردکانی؛ و آقایان جنابان: سروش حبیبی؛ مصطفی جمشیدی؛ داریوش شاهین و مصباح خسروی؛ هستند ادعای مورخی که میگوید: ناپلئون به این جهت به مسکو رفت، که خواهان این عمل بود، و به این جهت سقوط کرد، که الکساندر آرزوی سقوط و نابودی او را داشت. همانند ادعای کسی است، که واژگون شدن کوه چند هزار خرواری را، که زیرش خالی شده، نتیجه ی آخرین ضربت کلنگ یک کارگر بداند. هم درست است هم نادرست. در حوادث تاریخی، مردان به اصطلاح بزرگ، تنها برچسبهایی هستند، که برای نامیدن حوادث به کار میروند، و همانند برچسبها، کمتر از هر چیز، با خود آن حوادث ارتباط دارند. ص 675 لئو تولستوی. این اثر و چند کتاب پربرگ دیگر را در روزهای تعطیلات عید نوروز سال 1356 هجری خورشیدی خواندم. برای دیدار خانواده که در تبریز بودند، بهانه آوردم و نرفتم، ترک عادت کردم. مجرد بودم، دوستان هم به سفر نوروزی رفته بودند، چند کیلو ماهی ساردین از میدان (انقلاب امروزی) خریدم، خانه ام در میرداماد، در خیابان اطلسی بود، ماهیها را سرخ کردم، تا برای ناهار و شام و صبحانه وقت تلف نکنم، تند و تند این دو مجلد و چند جلد کتاب پربرگ دیگر را در آن یکهفته خواندم. اما عنوان آن کتابهای دیگر یادم نمانده است. ا. شربیانی

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cait • A Page with a View

    Decemer 2017 update: well, look at that... this is still my favorite book. Original review: Yeah, this is my new all-time favorite book. I can't even begin to write a review for it without falling apart into an emotional mess or fangirling over every character, so I'll just say that SOMEDAY I will write more... I skimmed War & Peace in early high school but wasn't terribly interested because I felt like I was being told that I had to like it. When people shove a classic book at me and start goi Decemer 2017 update: well, look at that... this is still my favorite book. Original review: Yeah, this is my new all-time favorite book. I can't even begin to write a review for it without falling apart into an emotional mess or fangirling over every character, so I'll just say that SOMEDAY I will write more... I skimmed War & Peace in early high school but wasn't terribly interested because I felt like I was being told that I had to like it. When people shove a classic book at me and start going on some pretentious spiel about how it's widely known to be the greatest book ever written if you're smart enough to see that... pretty sure that book's getting chucked out a window asap. BUT OK THIS SERIOUSLY IS THE BEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN. People are not exaggerating. And it really doesn't even feel that long because the writing is so mesmerizing. I know there are a ton of characters and everyone & their cousin is a prince, but if you watch the BBC miniseries first that might help keep everyone straight! Ok, I actually really liked that miniseries, so side note about that: the book is waaaay more detailed and lets you understand the characters and their motivations on an entirely different level. I mean, James Norton is gorgeous super talented, but most of Andrei's character comes through in his thoughts... and that's kind of hard to convey through stoic looks. Anyways, the humanity in this book is incredible and everything is heartbreakingly beautiful. It made me want to read a few of Tolstoy's other books on religion or philosophy and I totally recommend those as well.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Love That was the one thing I thought was missing from Leo Tolstoy's title, War and Peace. I was wrong. Love is in the title, you just have to look for it. Certainly there is love in peace. It is the time of children, serenity, growth. The mother peacefully raising her children. The farmer lovingly tending his fields. The elderly passing their final days in comfort surrounded by family. But there is love in war as well. The love for one's country. Such is a person's violent attachment to their mo Love That was the one thing I thought was missing from Leo Tolstoy's title, War and Peace. I was wrong. Love is in the title, you just have to look for it. Certainly there is love in peace. It is the time of children, serenity, growth. The mother peacefully raising her children. The farmer lovingly tending his fields. The elderly passing their final days in comfort surrounded by family. But there is love in war as well. The love for one's country. Such is a person's violent attachment to their motherland that they will die for it. To give up your own life so another should live, that is love indeed. What is this preoccupation with love? Well, the Leo Tolstoy I've read is incomplete without this aspect within his writing. I knew this book would be about war, specifically Russia's involvement in the Napoleonic Wars, but I didn't right off see where the love would come in. It arrived in spades. There are peace-loving characters and there are those who are uber patriotic. Then there is man's love for the good he sees in another man's actions. And then there is the love that weds a couple for life. Tolstoy's genius as a writer lies in his ability to dash his pen across all this with the same level of integrity regardless of whether his subject is a gallant officer in love with death or the daisy-fresh, springy step of a blossoming girl smitten by good looks and dash. Tolstoy transcends himself to become these hearty or hapless creatures. Then he marries them to our soul. Over these seemingly effortless hundreds upon hundreds of pages, these characters become family to us. We love them like brothers. We root for them. We are annoyed by them. We hate a few of them, but after all, they are family and therefore we must abide by them at least to a certain degree. And when you step back from the book and see your attachment to these characters, it amazes you…and then it disheartens you, for you realize they are nothing but Tolstoy's puppets used in a grand way so that he may slash and burn the icon of his hatred, Napoleon Bonaparte. Tolstoy seethes with loathing for this man. In large spurts through out, he devotes half the book to lampooning the man and his military deeds, and then as if that weren't enough, he piles on an average-sized book's worth of epilogue on essentially the same topic. In an effort to portray fairness, he also fillets his own. The Russian military leaders of the day come in for their share of condemnation. At times Tolstoy pours so much vitriol upon his own that you have to stop to recall who "the enemy" is. Why is this a 5 star book? After all, it's not perfect, being neither fully a novel nor a military treatise, but rather both and not always successfully joined. For all its many pages, there was only a small handful of moments where I felt my heart fly or crash. Perhaps it is the vast scope of it all and the effortless way in which it is carried off. So much happens. Tolstoy gives us many rare experiences, puts us in battle after battle - whether it's upon the field amidst cannon and rifle fire, within the home during a dangerous pregnancy, or between an embattled couple bereft of love. Each of these scenes rings true, ringing to their own tune and yet all combining into one beautiful symphony. PS: Here's my video review of this book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gfPf...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Treviño

    It is difficult, in reviewing classics, to say things about them that have not been said before. It is especially difficult when those classics are part of the literary canon; and even more difficult when those classics are not mere novels, but purposeful epics. It is in this light that reviewing Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace is a challenge. The massive book — ranging from 900 to 1,500 pages, depending upon the edition — is a cornerstone of anyone’s list of all-time great literature. Strangely, fe It is difficult, in reviewing classics, to say things about them that have not been said before. It is especially difficult when those classics are part of the literary canon; and even more difficult when those classics are not mere novels, but purposeful epics. It is in this light that reviewing Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace is a challenge. The massive book — ranging from 900 to 1,500 pages, depending upon the edition — is a cornerstone of anyone’s list of all-time great literature. Strangely, few have actually read it; and few reviewers of new editions do more than assess relative merits of the latest translation. Therefore: the one thing the reader ought to know about the new translation of War and Peace from Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is that it is worth reading, both in itself (the book is a classic in any translation) and in this particular form (this translation is superb). As with every other review of this edition, this one must start with what is new about it: the translation. The husband-and-wife team of Pevear and Volokhonsky have built a long and successful career on translating Russian works into English. (I still recommend their translation of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, which kept me company in my Army days, as the best around.) They are ideally suited to the task, not merely by virtue of their marital compatibility — a translating team spends nearly as much time together as a married couple, and probably communicates better — but by virtue of their birth. Volokhonsky, as might be guessed, is a native Russophone, and Pevear’s first language is English. In a column in the New York Times on October 14th, 2007, Pevear described the method of their collaboration: ---We work separately at first. Larissa produces a complete draft, following the original almost word by word, with many marginal comments and observations. From that, plus the original Russian, I make my own complete draft. Then we work closely together to arrive at a third draft, on which we make our “final” revisions.--- This is, of course, the idealized process. The actual work of conveying literature, with its poetry and rhetoric more or less intact, from one language to another is necessarily slow and inexact. Douglas Hofstadter, the author and professor of computer and cognitive science at Indiana University at Bloomington, addressed this problem at length in his book Le Ton beau de Marot. In this, a rather simple little poem by the 16th-century French poet Clément Marot — "A une damoyselle malade," or "To an ill girl" — is shown to have a surprising number of possible translations from French into English, with none of them quite right. There are dozens of variations in Hofstadter’s book. The necessary tradeoffs, even in Marot’s simple verse, are swiftly evident. Literal accuracy, or rhetorical beauty? Rhyme structure, or metric consistency? Cultural fidelity, or cultural comprehensibility? These are the issues with which translators must contend. The perverse, like Vladimir Nabokov in translating his rigid and un-lovely Eugene Onegin, simply give the reader their ideal of literal exactitude. The more well meaning will often give the reader their idea of comprehensibility in both the rhetorical and cultural spheres. Thus, Constance Garnett, who translated the great works of 19th-century Russian literature into Edwardian-era English, not only rendered prose as would an English novelist of her era: she also “translated” cultural concepts into familiar objects of reference for her intended readers. As a pseudonymous Amazon reviewer of the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace notes, in previous translations, “we often get ‘holy images,’ attended ‘Mass,’ ‘the Virgin Mary,’ etc., instead of ‘icon,’ ‘attended Liturgy,’ or ‘the Theotokos.’” It is pleasing to report that though the occasional clunky passage survives in its over twelve hundred pages, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have done well by War and Peace. And well they should have: as Pevear notes, in translating, they each read the massive work five times. Beyond the translation, there is the great work itself, which presumes to take on the very topics of its title. The grand sweep of its epic, to say nothing of the welter of Russian names and perhaps-unfamiliar places, is daunting to many readers. (Who knows where Mozhaisk is, or why it matters?) They should not feel ashamed of this: the very first sentence of the book presupposes a grasp of European politics and Russian society circa 1805, and the inferences and references never let up. It is a peculiarly Russian work, of course — the French invasion of 1812 was to Tolstoy’s generation what the Civil War was to our grandfathers’ — but it is nonetheless comprehensible to Europeans grounded in their own history. For an American, War and Peace is something else: not an artifact of our own heritage, but a work we read to sustain and deepen our connection to the West at large. Its themes of sacrifice, patriotism, and humanity are universal. Leo Tolstoy was not, it must be said, the master of the human condition that many of the other literary greats were — Shakespeare, for example, or even his contemporary Dostoevsky — and this shows through even in the superlative Pevear/Volokhonsky translation. In life, the great author was keenly interested in developing his own thesis of Christianity, which veered into that curious territory where extreme altruism and profound selfishness intersect. A rare Russian aristocrat who cared for his peasants, he treated his devoted wife with often shocking neglect; he was excommunicated from the Orthodox Church; and he ended up dying at a train station while essentially running away from home as an old man. War and Peace, with its long internal essays on history, fate, and morality, gives us a glimpse into the mind of this troubled and brilliant figure, as his plot and his characters bend to his ideas of life and meaning. Tolstoy was a contemporary of the men whom the philosopher Karl Popper called the historicists — that is, those who believed in the superiority of historical “laws” and inevitability to God-given free will and volition — and he shared much of their thesis. He did not, as some of them did, deny the possibility or relevance of human goodness and choice; but he did believe that those choices only affected a limited context, and mostly concerned one’s internal state toward himself and God. War and Peace, then, is to a large extent a historical exposition on why the individual does not matter to history, even as he does matter to his Creator. A central character of the work, Pierre Bezukhov, undergoes a transformation throughout from dissolute if well-meaning youth, to solid paterfamilias with an assured sense of God and self — and the transformative event is a death march in French captivity, in which he realizes that all is for naught in this world. Similarly, the wartime mistakes of the Russian generalissimo Kutuzov are excused as historical inevitabilities which Kutuzov had the wisdom to accept. Tolstoy’s view here is wholly alien to the American character, and its relation to the Christian view is dubious (certainly the Orthodox Church saw little good in it). It does not follow from this that the Christian should not read it. To the contrary, it is a work so very rich, despite its flaws, that it is endlessly rewarding to those who persevere and allow themselves to become happily entangled in its endless narrative. Is it the best Russian novel? Is it the best Tolstoy novel? Is it the best 19th-century novel? It is none of these things: Tolstoy himself wrote better novels, Anna Karenina chief among them; Zola’s La Debacle is a far superior exposition of battle; and nearly everything is shorter. But we ought to read War and Peace nonetheless. We read it because, like Everest, it is there; we read it to join Prince Andrei on the field at Austerlitz; we read it to enter the mind of the young Natasha, insane with what she believes is love; and we read it because in it, as in all great art, we find something of ourselves.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    857. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, which is regarded as a central work of world literature and one of Tolstoy's finest literary achievements. غنوان: جنگ و صلح - لئو ن. تولستوی (نیلوفر، صفیعلیشاه) ادبیات روسیه؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز نوزدهم ماه ژوئن سال 1978 میلادی عنوان: جنگ و صلح ؛ نویسنده: ل. (لی یف) ن. (نیکالایویچ) تولستوی؛ مترجم: کاظم انصاری؛ تهران، صفیعلیشاه، 1334، در چهار جلد؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان روسیه - قرن 19 م مترجمین دیگر این 857. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, which is regarded as a central work of world literature and one of Tolstoy's finest literary achievements. غنوان: جنگ و صلح - لئو ن. تولستوی (نیلوفر، صفیعلیشاه) ادبیات روسیه؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز نوزدهم ماه ژوئن سال 1978 میلادی عنوان: جنگ و صلح ؛ نویسنده: ل. (لی یف) ن. (نیکالایویچ) تولستوی؛ مترجم: کاظم انصاری؛ تهران، صفیعلیشاه، 1334، در چهار جلد؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان روسیه - قرن 19 م مترجمین دیگر این اثر: بانوان: شهلا انسانی؛ و سوسن اردکانی؛ و جنابان آقایان: سروش حبیبی؛ مصطفی جمشیدی؛ داریوش شاهین و مصباح خسروی؛ هستند و همچنان باشند هماره سرفراز نقل از متن: ادعای مورخی که میگوید: ناپلئون به این جهت به مسکو رفت، که خواهان این عمل بود، و به این جهت سقوط کرد، که الکساندر آرزوی سقوط و نابودی او را داشت. همانند ادعای کسی است، که واژگون شدن کوه چند هزار خرواری را، که زیرش خالی شده، نتیجه ی آخرین ضربت کلنگ کارگری میداند. هم درست است هم نادرست. در حوادث تاریخی، مردان به اصطلاح بزرگ، فقط برچسبهایی هستند، که برای نامیدن حوادث به کار میروند، و مانند برچسبها، کمتر از هر چیز، با خود آن حوادث ارتباط دارند. پایان نقل از ص 675 کتاب جنگ و صلح لئو تولستوی. ا. شربیانی

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I tried for five months to write something more polished, less rambling. This is all I've got: "While he is alive, the morning is still fresh and dewy, the vampires sleep. But if the sun sets, if father Tolstoy dies and the last genius leaves - what then?" -Alexander Blok, as Tolstoy lay dying at Astapovo "[War and Peace] is positively what might be called a Russian Illiad. Embracing the whole epoch, it is the grandiose literary event, showcasing the gallery of great men painted by a lively brush o I tried for five months to write something more polished, less rambling. This is all I've got: "While he is alive, the morning is still fresh and dewy, the vampires sleep. But if the sun sets, if father Tolstoy dies and the last genius leaves - what then?" -Alexander Blok, as Tolstoy lay dying at Astapovo "[War and Peace] is positively what might be called a Russian Illiad. Embracing the whole epoch, it is the grandiose literary event, showcasing the gallery of great men painted by a lively brush of the great master... This is one of the most, if not the most profound literary work ever. -Ivan Goncharov “Anna Karenina is sheer perfection as a work of art. No European work of fiction of our present day comes anywhere near it. Furthermore, the idea underlying it shows that it is ours, ours, something that belongs to us alone and that is our own property, our own national 'new word' or, at any rate, the beginning of it.” - Dostoyevsky "[War and Peace] is the greatest ever war novel in the history of literature." -Thomas Mann And of course: "If the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy." -Isaac Babel Damn, right? Intense. These are just some of the glowing, adoring quotes that I have drawn from the absolutely glittering gallery of homages that have been written to Tolstoy. On the one hand, it’s hard not to get caught up in the high, especially if you’ve experienced any of it first-hand yourself. But on the other hand… it kind of makes you want to kick back at it, doesn’t it? It makes me understand muckraking tabloid journalism. This is definitely the sort of moment where we could all use a cooling off article about the tax fraud he committed for years or some pictures from a bar fight he started. Here’s the thing, the wonderful thing about Tolstoy: I think that he feels the same way. One of the many reasons I love the movie version of The Last Station (which covers the last year of Tolstoy’s life) is the way that it frames Tolstoy’s struggle to control his own identity. The movie brilliantly explored the grand old man standing at the same crossroads over and over again as people tried to force him to take one path or another: either to buy into his own mythical propaganda, or at least to use it to some good purpose and become the sort of icon that Russia needed to begin to undertake serious reforms, that is, to act the part of the pure saint that he often wished that he was and live the way that others felt he owed it to them to live or whether he could simply be and live as the complicated, imperfect, sometimes silly, sometimes angry, loving man that he actually was. At that point, was his life really his own any longer to decide what to do with? What did he owe to the millions who knew his name and thought they knew what he stood for? Did he have the right to be less than what he was constantly told people needed him to be? I think that Tolstoy struggled with the issue of Great Man syndrome long before he became the purported saint/icon that he was made into at the end of his life. War and Peace is, as so many have noted, about a lot of Serious Ideas and Movements. And here’s the thing, he’s really, really good at writing about them. Although some of his ideas can seem silly from the vantage point of the 21st century, the process that is put into them does not seem so. And at the time, there seemed to be no one who could come up with the words to refute him in any satisfying way. I’m sure that his reputation had a lot to do with it, his place in the social-political fabric as much as his literary talents, his extraordinary position that seemingly allowed him to speak out under an autocratic government. But nonetheless, whatever you might say about the legitimacy of how he got there, it doesn’t change what ultimately happened, which is that both Tolstoy and his ideas ended up elevated into a rarefied sphere where criticisms were fairly ineffectual or easily dismissed. Under all the rage about Napoleons and Alexanders, it seemed to me that perhaps the major underlying theme of War and Peace was just this: The search for that Great Man (or equivalent idea) that could make Tolstoy stop seeking and asking and live content. It seemed to me that Tolstoy would give anything if he felt he could give up seeking and rest in full trust. This whole book has his thinly veiled author proxies searching for something to give themselves over to, wholeheartedly and without regrets. The read I got was that Tolstoy wanted to find this Great Man, be his servant, follow his dictates and trust that when the day comes that he questions them, the Great Man will be able to justify what he tells him in a way that admits of no argument. He wants to be able to go home satisfied and feel that when he comes back the next day the Great Man’s next set of instructions will always be just as wise, just as inarguable, and just as moral in statement as well as action as they were the day before. More than this, he wants this Great Man to be able to change him and purify him of what he sees as his petty enjoyments, loves, hatreds and cynicisms, and make him into a perfect vessel of love and generosity to those around him, who is only inspired by the greatest of good-doings and rejects worldly pleasures. So, you can see where this is going, right? Tolstoy isn’t looking for a Great Man, or perfect human or amazing idea at all: he’s looking for God, incarnate. This was the heartbreaking thing about this book for me, watching him try to find this impossible ideal, because it seems like he really thought that this was possible, in his heart of hearts. He never could get rid of the thought that The Ideal, the Utopia, the Perfect Heaven, existed somewhere and he was just missing out on it. Tolstoy’s two most direct author proxies, Pierre and Prince Andrei, spend this whole novel seeking what I can only call with a capital H, their Happiness, some platonic ideal of Heavenly Bliss in which their souls will no longer question or feel discontent or dissatisfaction. Between them, these two men place their hopes in, respectively: Napoleon, carousing and living for the moment, money and societal success, the quasi-Christian cult/society club that was the Russian Freemasons, and finally Love With That Girl Who Was Too Good For You (Pierre) and the army/war, the Emperor(s), familial obligations, meritocratic success and professional heroes, The Love of A Fresh, Pretty Young Girl, the Army Part II, and, finally, the forgiveness and redemption of Jesus (Andrei). Other members of the vast cast show up to take over the baton for a few moments and chime in about the glories of the Emperor(s), God, the brotherhood that can be found in the army or idea of The Fatherland, and, on the part of the women, religious obsessions, the love of children, and the perfections of a man who deigns to marry them. It’s rough to watch these people’s hopes get shot down that many times. This book is a thousand pages long. It happens a lot of times, and to almost all the characters that we have any sympathy for. It’s hard to watch these characters put their 110% into something or someone because we know that there’s just nothing in this world that can withstand that sort of pressure. It’s tragic, to think what some people expect of others, and, I think, one of the most powerful insights to come out of this book: there are no ideals, and those who spend their lives trying to find them will be inevitably disappointed. This is something that Tolstoy clearly struggled a lot with. But God was always the out. It happened in W&P and in the “oh holy shit, I feel like a bad person,” screeching brakes of an ending on Anna Karenina. But of course, this ideal is unknowable and insubstantial in many ways, it’s mysteries therefore customizable and different for everyone who encounters them. God allowed him to hold onto the idea that the Ideal existed and allowed him a vessel into which to pour all his hopes after everything else, inevitably, disappointed him. It’s really unfair, of course, for Tolstoy to have expected mere humans to do anything different if he’s going to put that kind of insane expectation on everyone and everything around him. It’s almost laughably arrogant to expect that the world will live up to the way that you think that it should be and that it should change itself to suit you. Sometimes I felt like I was the Cary Grant character in The Philadelphia Story, wanting to face down Katherine Hepburn and tell her that she needed to have some regard for human frailty. If Tolstoy was like that, it would be easy to dismiss him. His rage would have no power. It would be simply a delusion, not an ideal. But he does understand it, is the thing. To his great despair. Tolstoy is afraid of that frailty and spends this whole book running from it. This was some of the great power of Anna Karenina for me, as well as this book. He can’t sustain that fire and brimstone condemnation of the sinful for long. He understands the flaws far too well. In the same way, he can’t sustain his belief in a system, a person, or even a religion for too long. He keeps having to find something else to believe in, something new to try, in just the same way that his characters keep having to “renew” themselves after doing something that they feel is sinful. Tolstoy’s protagonists are always too active in their minds and hearts to settle down to something forever, state their belief and call it good. They keep changing and evolving for a very specific reason: because they keep living. It reminded me of something something he wrote in Anna Karenina about the blissful period after Anna and Vronsky run away together: He felt that the realization of his desire had given him only a grain of the mountain of happiness he had expected. It showed him the eternal error people make in imagining that happiness is the realization of desires. At first, after he had united with her and put on civilian clothes, he felt the enchantment of freedom in general ...but not for long. He soon felt arise in his soul a desire for desires, an anguish." People who keep living don’t get to live happily ever after. They get to keep living, and that is all. Tolstoy’s metaphor for this in this novel is Natasha. Natasha, like Anna, is a unique female figure for this time period in literature in that she gets to live, think and love very much as a male protagonist would do. She gets her own inner soul and feelings and Tolstoy is very firm about protecting that, no matter what ideals the men want to project on her from the outside. Natasha is flighty, self-involved and changeable in her feelings depending on the moment or situation. Natasha loves acting the part of romance, but finds that she cannot sustain her feelings long enough to make it worth it. This puts her in sharp contrast to most of the other women in this novel: her childhood friend and cousin Sonya, who remains self-sacrificing and self-effacing and loyal as a dog to the man she declares she loves (in ways that are often humiliating), being one example, and the religious, blushing, pure Princess Marya being another. Natasha’s joys and worries are the simple, straightforward, predictable and all-too-recognizable feelings of a teenage girl: ”Natasha was going to the first grand ball of her life. She had gotten up that day at eight o’clock in the morning and had spent the whole day in feverish anxiety and activity. Since the morning all her powers had been directed towards getting all of them-herself, mama, Sonya-dressed in the best possible way...” “Natasha was interested neither in the sovereign nor in any of the important persons that Mme Peronsky pointed out-she had one thought: “Can it be that no one will come up to me, can it be that I won’t dance among the first, can it be that all these men won’t notice me, who now don’t even seem to see me, and if they look at me, it’s with such an expression as if they were saying: ‘Ah! it’s not her, there’s no point in looking!’ No, it can’t be!” she thought. “They must know how well I dance, and what fun it will be for them to dance with me.” Natasha hasn’t a single thought about the greater good of Russia, God, or, really, her family. Natasha wants to be young and admired and have a wonderful time every day of her life. It makes her selfish (she doesn’t want to hear ANYONE’s opinion if they contradict a desire of hers). It makes her heedless and reckless. It also makes her at least the temporary desire or deep love of almost every man that comes into contact with her in this novel. She is another one who throws herself into every moment of her life 110%. But she’s just much more honest about the fact that what makes her happy changes frequently. People judge her for this constantly, which gradually gives her a self-conscious complex which I think has a lot to do with why she agrees to marry Prince Andrei under the worst idea-ever-in-the-world circumstances. Is anyone surprised when the engagement fails? Anyone? You can say what you want about the repentance afterwards, but the way that Tolstoy sets it up, it is difficult to judge Natasha for the way things go down. She’s sixteen and has been abandoned by her much older fiancé for reasons she hasn’t a prayer of understanding involving the passive aggressive fights of fathers and sons that never end. As far as she knows, she's been told not to live or love for a year, and girl does not play like that. Natasha tries her best, but she’s living proof that we keep on living and being people and having to get through the day no matter how many oaths we swear or how many good intentions lie on that road paved to hell. This is like people who think that Bluebeard’s wife should be condemned for going inside the secret room or that Pandora is the worst for opening the box. You put her in a situation that was completely incompatible to her temperament and personality, made her undergo a test to prove something that you don’t really want her to be anyway and all because YOU got cold feet and realized that maybe you weren’t ready for the reality of marrying a beautiful, passionate sixteen year old who loves society and is probably being set up for Anna the Sequel to happen, especially if you are going to insist on your tortured, strong-and-silent thing continuing, which I am fully sure it would have. Natasha is loved and adored because she symbolizes passionate, uninhibited, it-goes-on- Life. She hasn’t got a single complex to speak of. Natasha is almost the only one in this book who deals with her feelings honestly and doesn’t hide behind philosophies or false generosity to make herself feel better. She even throws herself fully into the passion of the guy she’s cheating on Andrei with. If she feels bad afterwards, it’s because of pure, human guilt, not because Jesus told her that doing that was bad. She doesn’t like hurting people, especially not the person that she had made her Romantic mind up that she was going to marry and live happily ever after with. Again, human love. When she collapses when she finds out the guy she loves is already married, it’s not out of a feeling of sin, it’s out of grief for the love she feels. Like every other protagonist, she wants forgiveness and purification for her sins before she is able to be well again. But she wants forgiveness from a man, from Prince Andrei, not from a philosophy or a religion or a government. She wants to be able to love and have her love be worth something in her eyes and anyone else’s. Love is at the center of her own sense of self, and if she is not allowed to give love she feels that her life is not worth anything. Natasha’s erstwhile fiancé, Andrei, is allowed to find peace and purity before he dies. He is allowed to give himself entirely over to Jesus and find the serenity that he has always lacked. But here’s the thing, he only does it through feeling inhuman: “Yes, love.. but not the love that loves for something, for some purpose, or for some reason, but the love I experienced for the first time when, as I lay dying, I saw my enemy and loved him all the same. I experienced the feeling of love, which is the very essence of my soul and needs no object… To love everything- to love God in all His manifestations. You can love a person dear to you with a human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love.” All this and martyrdom too so that he can somehow find a way to express and get over what he feels is his unacceptable anger at a woman who betrayed him. But she’s around and he suddenly starts to feel human, not God-like love again. He starts thinking about the man who she cheated with and how he wanted to kill him. He thinks constantly about how near she is in the room. He starts to hope and negotiate with death. But life is too scary for him to do that. He ends up retreating away from confusion into death. Seriously, screw the men in this novel. If there’s a hero here, I think it is Natasha. I would argue that the gauntlet thrown down to all these characters at the start of the novel is to find their way to honesty and peace. Natasha is the only character who consistently tackles the world with honesty, so she is the only one who can lead us to peace. Draw your wider metaphors for the implications for world affairs. Which, you will notice, I did not touch on in this review. This is because they could not possibly matter less, except as a manifestation of everything else I am talking about here, just on a bigger and more impersonal scale, for those who can only recognize Truth when it is stated to them in a titanic voice with pomp and circumstance attached. Partway through the novel, Tolstoy puts these words into the mouth of the Freemason who converts Pierre: ”Look at your inner man with spiritual eyes and ask if you are pleased with yourself. What have you achieved, being guided by reason alone? What are you? You are young, you are rich, you are educated, my dear sir. What have you done with all these good things that have been given to you? Are you content with yourself and your life? Tolstoy’s never done asking these questions, which is why he was never able to find that Great Man in reality and lay down his burdens. It’s sad, in a way. From reading his two great works of fiction, it seemed like the one thing he always wanted. But on the other hand, he already told us, implicitly, that if he ever found the ideal he always said he was seeking, he would be dead inside. He would no longer be human. He would be God. Nirvana. Whatever you want to call it. Is this really what he wanted? Or did he want to want it? Did he want that feeling of wanting it… that intense passion that only a human could feel? That desire for desires that never went away. There’s no way to know. But for God’s sake, if these thousands of pages have taught me anything, it’s this: We’re pretty much stuck with being human. So we’d better make the best of it. Find joy where you can. And realize, in a quote by Stoppard that I will never tire of repeating, “It’s the wanting to know that makes us matter.” I wish Tolstoy could have found God in that ideal, if he had to have one. I feel sure that that is perhaps the one way he could have avoided being disappointed. Tolstoy is two for two on breaking my heart with words. And yet I feel sure that I’ll be back again for him to break my heart a third time.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    One commentator of War and Peace wryly remarked,” war and peace … that about covers everything.” That is as succinct a book report as can be given to a work of this magnitude. This novel does contain just about everything; war and peace, battles, hospitals, military strategy, love and romance, marriage, estrangement and divorce, death, birth, families, relationships, friends, enemies, hatred, jealousy, fear, gambling, dueling, hunting, dances, music, religion and politics, mysticism, philosophy, One commentator of War and Peace wryly remarked,” war and peace … that about covers everything.” That is as succinct a book report as can be given to a work of this magnitude. This novel does contain just about everything; war and peace, battles, hospitals, military strategy, love and romance, marriage, estrangement and divorce, death, birth, families, relationships, friends, enemies, hatred, jealousy, fear, gambling, dueling, hunting, dances, music, religion and politics, mysticism, philosophy, economics, aristocracy, nobility, peasantry and farming, merchants, horses and cavalry, traveling and most all things Russian, European and universal. A critic could cynically remark, with some truth, that if you put enough words on enough pages, you can talk about everything, but to do so in this epic, historic narrative is an extraordinary accomplishment. About a third of the way through it occurred to me that I had never read a book like this, at once on an epic, grand scale and yet at the same time personal and with great attention to detail. Of course the truth is that I never have read another book like this because there probably is not another book like this, it is unique, even among other literary masterpieces. Tolstoy may indeed have created the greatest novel ever, because I’ve never before read such a complete work on such a grand scale. Tolstoy uses an abundance of literary devices and techniques, from irony to metaphor and simile, analogy, imagery and symbolism, foreshadowing, epiphany, characterization and all under the very approachable omnipresent, omniscient realism of the author’s voice. There are even elements of surrealism, absurdism and humor. Himself a veteran of the Crimean War, Tolstoy has an adept ability to describe life in the army and to detail military scenes. And it’s a good story. What is it about? Four families living in the time of the Napoleonic Wars and the invasions of Russia. Just as many people today regard the WWII generation, my grandparents’ generation, as our greatest, Tolstoy wrote about these events as Russia’s greatest generation, his grandparents’ generation. These were the people, after all, that had defeated Napoleon. Many historic personages are present in the story, including Napoleon and Alexander, and also a whole populace of counts and countesses, princes and princesses, generals, officers, sergeants and soldiers, statesmen, freemasons, servants and serfs. Tolstoy has a rare gift, akin to Dickens, at characterization, painting most all characters in a realistic, multi-dimensional brush. The leading protagonists are almost all dynamic, evolving and complex and the inter-relationships are rich. Finally, this is a vehicle for Tolstoy to expound on his philosophic and theological views, commenting on the inherent irrationality of man and at the same time man’s small place, even as an emperor, in history.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy

    Just finished my second reading of War and Peace. Couldn't have loved it better. Maturity and knowledge of the times certainly helped my enjoyment. It didn't feel as long as it actually is. I loved all Tolstoy's meticulously created characters. I hope to write more soon. Not to be missed! _____ I read Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace a long, long time ago. However, I still remember how I enjoyed this epic, even if I might have been too young and lacked the knowledge about Russian history that would have Just finished my second reading of War and Peace. Couldn't have loved it better. Maturity and knowledge of the times certainly helped my enjoyment. It didn't feel as long as it actually is. I loved all Tolstoy's meticulously created characters. I hope to write more soon. Not to be missed! _____ I read Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace a long, long time ago. However, I still remember how I enjoyed this epic, even if I might have been too young and lacked the knowledge about Russian history that would have allowed me to enjoy it even more. Anyway, it inspired me to keep reading, just for that I am grateful for Tolstoy. If I didn't have so many unread masterpieces in my to-read list, I would revisit it. Highly recommended.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cait Poytress

    I am no longer afraid of the big ass Russian novel.* Who knew it would be so readable? The most difficult thing about it was keeping all of the characters straight, but even that was only in the beginning. By the end of the book, the characters were so fully drawn that I couldn't believe that I'd once had to rely on a cheat sheet remember who they were or what relation they had to one another. I'm kind of peeved that I can't give this book 5 stars**. Overall, I thought it was fantastic. I even li I am no longer afraid of the big ass Russian novel.* Who knew it would be so readable? The most difficult thing about it was keeping all of the characters straight, but even that was only in the beginning. By the end of the book, the characters were so fully drawn that I couldn't believe that I'd once had to rely on a cheat sheet remember who they were or what relation they had to one another. I'm kind of peeved that I can't give this book 5 stars**. Overall, I thought it was fantastic. I even liked the war sections. Well, the "action" war sections that featured our characters, not the "strategy" war sections where Tolstoy basically repeated his views on history and the war over and over and over again. That and the second epilogue kept me from being completely enamored. Come on, Leo! End it with a bang, not a whimper! By the way, I'm totally (view spoiler)[Team Andrei (hide spoiler)] . *Or the big ass French novel, for that matter. I'm still kind of scared of the big ass American novel (looking at you, Herman "whale anatomy" Melville), and I sometimes have PTSD-like flashbacks from my monthlong run in with the big ass Irish novel (you know who you are, James "snotgreen scrotumtightening sea" Joyce). **Give me a year and I will forgive you for your whimper of an ending. This book was pretty freaking amazing.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Supreeth

    So I'd this in my bucketlist, 'read war and peace before 25'. And I'm still twenty two! RTC

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Holy cow! I am done! Not sure what to say . . . I feel like I should write a 1000 page review, but I will keep it short. I finished the book while a passenger in a mini-van stuck in horrible Atlanta traffic. The book was not quite as readable as some other BIG books I have read, but still pretty good. What amazed me is how few specific events occurred during the 1000+ pages - Tolstoy was just really detailed in describing the events. Only a few times, though, did I feel like it was too much. This Holy cow! I am done! Not sure what to say . . . I feel like I should write a 1000 page review, but I will keep it short. I finished the book while a passenger in a mini-van stuck in horrible Atlanta traffic. The book was not quite as readable as some other BIG books I have read, but still pretty good. What amazed me is how few specific events occurred during the 1000+ pages - Tolstoy was just really detailed in describing the events. Only a few times, though, did I feel like it was too much. This book may not be for everyone, but it sure feels cool to be able to say "War and Peace? Yeah, I read that!"

  20. 4 out of 5

    Renato Magalhães Rocha

    You mustn’t let Tolstoy’s classic’s reputation and length intimidate you in the least! Contrary to popular belief, it is not a hard read and you'll be surprised to see that it is quite a page turner. And here’s a tip: having some knowledge about the Napoleonic wars and the French invasion in Russia is all it takes for the war scenes to come alive and not seem like such a drag. This is a book that deserves to be read and you’ll be glad once you conclude this enterprise - not because you're at the You mustn’t let Tolstoy’s classic’s reputation and length intimidate you in the least! Contrary to popular belief, it is not a hard read and you'll be surprised to see that it is quite a page turner. And here’s a tip: having some knowledge about the Napoleonic wars and the French invasion in Russia is all it takes for the war scenes to come alive and not seem like such a drag. This is a book that deserves to be read and you’ll be glad once you conclude this enterprise - not because you're at the finish line - but because you'll be different from who you were when you started it, as J. Donald Adams charmingly put it: "No intelligent person can read it without a deep enrichment of experience. And having once read it, he is certain to turn to it again, to be amazed once more by its veracity, its tremendous vitality, its epic scope." In War and Peace, Tolstoy masterfully brings together historical figures - such as Napoléon Bonaparte and Alexander I - and a whole cast of fictitious characters - Natasha, Pierre, Andrei - and manages to paint them all equally human, as if they all really coexisted in that time and at that place. His imagined human beings are shown as complex and realistic individuals with their weaknesses and strengths, living moments of despair and hope, showing selfishness and benevolence - whether we’re talking about the charismatic Nikolai Rostóv or the perverse Hèléne Kuragina. We're in for a comprehensive study on history and how history sees and narrates events and its effects on human lives from a rationalized perspective. The author forces us to question whether our fate is in the hands of a few important and designated, chosen people as we’ve been told to believe or if everything belongs to a higher set of causes inaccessible to human reason. Although at some point it may seem we’re simply seeing the outcome the wars had on the lives of those five families, Tolstoy is taking us to a much bigger and more interesting quest. Closing this amazing, entertaining and enlightening journey is an Epilogue divided in two parts (mind you that a number of publishers simply left it out of some War and Peace editions! The nerve!) The first one concludes the story of our main characters, while still leaving hints of how their lives should continue and what they will possibly experience next, mostly by presenting to us an eager to quest and conquer Nikolenka Bolkonsky. Epilogue, Pt. 2 is a luminous (one might even call it a philosophical) essay where Tolstoy summarizes the questions he’s been asking us all along through this literary experience: what’s the reason for whatever it is we go through in life? What does it mean? Why does it happen? What powerful forces acted on it? He shows us how attributing objectively the cause and consequence argument simply won’t answer all of our inquiries. Without pondering upon the laws of necessity and freedom, reason and conscience and, most of all, power, we’ll be as far from any spiritual achievement as we were from finishing War and Peace when we started our read on page one. Rating: a true undeniable, mind blowing masterpiece couldn’t be rated anything less than 5 stars. P.S.: As far as film adaptations go, I’ve watched two of them: 1) Voyna i Mir (1966, directed by Sergey Bondarchuk): very faithful to the book, follows all the events, most original dialogues and even character’s physical descriptions. It ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and 2) War and Peace (1956, directed by King Vidor) and featuring a cast with stars Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Mel Ferrer; this adaptation suffers a strong condensation of events and changes up a lot of the dialogues. Even at 208 minutes long, it felt very rushed. As lovely as it is to see Ms. Hepburn giving life to our beloved Natasha Rostóva, if you have to pick one of these to watch, go with the first option.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    That 5 star rating stares down at me. Does it need to be justified? Probably not … but anyway In my seventieth year, I have finally for the first time read this novel, a book that I bought over half a century ago, proudly displayed on one book shelf after another as the years rolled by. Will I ever open it again? I surely hope so. It seems to me at this moment that I could turn the book over, open the front cover and begin reading again. No matter what prism one looks at W&P through - sublime That 5 star rating stares down at me. Does it need to be justified? Probably not … but anyway In my seventieth year, I have finally for the first time read this novel, a book that I bought over half a century ago, proudly displayed on one book shelf after another as the years rolled by. Will I ever open it again? I surely hope so. It seems to me at this moment that I could turn the book over, open the front cover and begin reading again. No matter what prism one looks at W&P through - sublime storytelling, psychological insight, unforgettable characters (even if their names are too long and too like one another), description of battle, interwoven love stories, superb writing (admittedly read in translation) – one could I suppose find an example of another novel that, when looked at through that particular prism, would equal or exceed Tolstoy’s creation. But set all those prismatic views of War and Peace side by side, giving them any set of weights you want, and surely no other novel, if judged by all the same measures, can surpass it. And there is one prism through which War & Peace must surely be judged the greatest – that is, it must be the greatest historical novel ever written. For not only has Tolstoy given us this profound story of humanity, not only has he given it a historical setting in the two tumultuous decades following the French Revolution, but he has also dared to infuse the story again and again with his own initially scornful, but ultimately tormented, criticism of, and search for meaning and truth within, the very meaning of history. To be continued.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nilesh Kashyap

    Not a review, and whatever is this, is incomplete due to my inability to express myself. In childhood’s pride I said to Thee: ‘O Thou, who mad’st me of Thy breath, Speak, Master, and reveal to me Thine inmost laws of life and death. ‘Give me to drink each joy and pain Which Thine eternal hand can mete, For my insatiate soul would drain Earth’s utmost bitter, utmost sweet. ‘Spare me no bliss, no pang of strife, Withhold no gift or grief I crave, The intricate lore of love and life And mystic know Not a review, and whatever is this, is incomplete due to my inability to express myself. In childhood’s pride I said to Thee: ‘O Thou, who mad’st me of Thy breath, Speak, Master, and reveal to me Thine inmost laws of life and death. ‘Give me to drink each joy and pain Which Thine eternal hand can mete, For my insatiate soul would drain Earth’s utmost bitter, utmost sweet. ‘Spare me no bliss, no pang of strife, Withhold no gift or grief I crave, The intricate lore of love and life And mystic knowledge of the grave.’ This poem describes exactly the way I feel about War and Peace. I read this poem just to re-live the ‘War and Peace experience’ over and over again. War and Peace experience? Huh! Journey of Pierre Bezukhov. That is what this experience refers to, in my case. Journey of Pierre is the way I perceive W&P, you may or may not think the same way. Many of you will find my experience to be shallow, because you found something that was deep, that perhaps went by unnoticed by me OR that was something I couldn’t connect to. It's all about how one relate to something. A bee settling on a flower has stung a child. And the child is afraid of bees and declares that bees exist to sting people. A poet admires the bee sucking from the chalice of a flower and says it exists to suck the fragrance of flowers. A beekeeper, seeing the bee collect pollen from flowers and carry it to the hive, says that it exists to gather honey. Another beekeeper who has studied the life of the hive more closely says that the bee gathers pollen dust to feed the young bees and rear a queen, and that it exists to perpetuate its race. A botanist notices that the bee flying with the pollen of a male flower to a pistil fertilizes the latter, and sees in this the purpose of the bee's existence. Another, observing the migration of plants, notices that the bee helps in this work, and may say that in this lies the purpose of the bee. But the ultimate purpose of the bee is not exhausted by the first, the second, or any of the processes the human mind can discern. The higher the human intellect rises in the discovery of these purposes, the more obvious it becomes, that the ultimate purpose is beyond our comprehension. All that is accessible to man is the relation of the life of the bee to other manifestations of life. Tolstoy says this about life, but the thing is that this novel is so big that it starts to get close to being something that life itself is. We don’t find everything in our life to be meaningful or we don’t hold onto every moment of life, only few are worth. Similarly we find in W&P a particular thing to connect to, something that we underwent in our life, something that we are undergoing now. And believe me W&P has something to offer for everyone. For me it was ‘journey of Pierre’. What kind of journey! I think it was a ‘round’ journey, starting from a point and returning to the same point, and thereafter make a forward journey. All so innocent and careless Pierre makes a journey, vacillating between freemasonary, philanthrophy and mysticism in his desperate search for truth. At the end of his journey he is not further in his life but at the same point, but just strong and life, much more under his control. Because truth has been revealed to him. Lord, Thou didst answer stern and low: ‘Child, I will hearken to thy prayer, And thy unconquered soul shall know All passionate rapture and despair. ‘Thou shalt drink deep of joy and fame, And love shall burn thee like a fire, And pain shall cleanse thee like a flame, To purge the dross from thy desire. ‘So shall thy chastened spirit yearn To seek from its blind prayer release, And spent and pardoned, sue to learn The simple secret of My peace. ‘I, bending from my sevenfold height, Will teach thee of My quickening grace, Life is a prism of My light, And Death the shadow of My face.’ - The Soul's Prayer, a poem by Sarojini Naidu

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    A Review in Three Parts: I. The Analytical Analysis II. The Review Here's the thing that surprised me the most about War & Peace: it's extremely readable. It's not filled with difficult or outdated language. (At least in the P&V translation.) It doesn't have long, hard to parse sentences. The action and dialogue is fairly straight-forward. The characters become easy to follow. If you are freaked out by War & Peace because you think it's hard, it's not. Although you will have to powe A Review in Three Parts: I. The Analytical Analysis II. The Review Here's the thing that surprised me the most about War & Peace: it's extremely readable. It's not filled with difficult or outdated language. (At least in the P&V translation.) It doesn't have long, hard to parse sentences. The action and dialogue is fairly straight-forward. The characters become easy to follow. If you are freaked out by War & Peace because you think it's hard, it's not. Although you will have to power though the utterly dull and overly-populated intro party scene. Gah. However, War & Peace is filled with endless diversions, especially history primers and theological discussions of death and minutia of battles. Tolstoy goes off on tangents, and it can take a while to get back to the story. I know some people love those tangents - I didn't. Tolstoy failed to reel me in, and make me care about the logistics of war, or his philosophies of physics in the social sciences. One quick note on the P&V translation - they left in the original French and German with translations in footnotes/endnotes. I found their annotation style to be clunky at best. In retrospect, I would have chosen the Briggs translation, even though it's not available in ebook format. What's sad is that for the first half of the book, I read slowly, deliberately, and researched stuff outside of the book. I wanted War & Peace to be a rich experience. I was reading this with quite a few people in a group, and thought I could really appreciate why people call this The Great Novel Evar! But after 650-odd pages and 6 weeks, I still wasn't engaged with the characters, the story, or the history. So I started to read faster just to get through it. I'm not saying it's a horrible book, though. The characters are well defined, and they grow and change over the years of war, struggle and collective bourgeoisie. Quite a few people in the group read-along fell in love with some of the major protagonists. Certainly for me the "home-front" story was more compelling than any other aspect of the story. Here's one way I can tell whether a book is rising above an average read for me. Do I think about the characters, the story, or the issues outside of reading the book? For War & Peace, except for our group discussions, this was a resounding No. Discussions of ladies' facial hair was the most thrilling aspect. I had a hard time getting War & Peace to rise about a "meh" for me, even considering it's proper historical literary provenance. III. Some Russian* Things I Learned samovar: troika: droshky: knout: britzka: shako: chibouk: papakha: *Not all of these things are Russian. But they are in War & Peace.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Anti-literary-flab: "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy I was standing at an airport lounge as a teenager many years ago, and suddenly realised I had no books to read for my family holiday. I was a SF geek at the time (still am, but I’m reading other stuff now), but had read everything that W.H. Smiths airport bookshelf could show me. In desperation and dread I turned to the classics... I'd read Frankenstein and other English literary classi If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Anti-literary-flab: "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy I was standing at an airport lounge as a teenager many years ago, and suddenly realised I had no books to read for my family holiday. I was a SF geek at the time (still am, but I’m reading other stuff now), but had read everything that W.H. Smiths airport bookshelf could show me. In desperation and dread I turned to the classics... I'd read Frankenstein and other English literary classics by that point, and had found all of them tedious and obsessed with melancholy and/or an absurd idealistic idea of romance. Plots were contrived and you could see them coming a mile away. Of them all, only Dickens could make me smile and identify with his caricatures, but even he stopped short of fulfilling at times. If Victorian England had truly been like all of that that, then no wonder we were so repressed and messed up today. So in desperation and partly in arrogance I picked up this weighty book. None of my peers had read it, and it's size seemed to daunt many. I thought of the smugness I'd feel in saying I'd read it, even if it had been as dry and full of itself like so many others...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed

    كنت وأنا في ثانوي مهووس بالأدب الأجنبي , مجرد رؤيتي لنسخة مترجمة من أعمال العظماء كان سبب كافِ جدا بالنسبة لي أن أشتريها , ولعل السبب دا اللي خلاني وأنا في أولى جامعة أدفع 120 جنيه فى كتاب ضخم عبارة عن 4 أجزاء و2329 من الورق الأصفر اللي باين عليه القدم جدا , واللى ريحته أشبه برائحة المخدر اللذيذ القادر على تهدئتك في أشد الأوقات ضيقًا وتعصبًا . توصف هذه الرواية عى أنها إلياذة العصر الحديث , ولكن أهي كذلك فعلا ؟ لا أعرف لأني لم أقرأ الإلياذة , ولكن الشئ الوحيد الذي أثق به أنك ستقابل ملحمة من الطراز كنت وأنا في ثانوي مهووس بالأدب الأجنبي , مجرد رؤيتي لنسخة مترجمة من أعمال العظماء كان سبب كافِ جدا بالنسبة لي أن أشتريها , ولعل السبب دا اللي خلاني وأنا في أولى جامعة أدفع 120 جنيه فى كتاب ضخم عبارة عن 4 أجزاء و2329 من الورق الأصفر اللي باين عليه القدم جدا , واللى ريحته أشبه برائحة المخدر اللذيذ القادر على تهدئتك في أشد الأوقات ضيقًا وتعصبًا . توصف هذه الرواية عى أنها إلياذة العصر الحديث , ولكن أهي كذلك فعلا ؟ لا أعرف لأني لم أقرأ الإلياذة , ولكن الشئ الوحيد الذي أثق به أنك ستقابل ملحمة من الطراز الرفيع , ملحمة لا تملك إلا الانبهار أمامها , والتعجب من تلك القدرة المذهلة التي امتلكها الكاتب لكي ينسج لك تلك الملحمة. إلمام مذهل بالتاريخ وتفاصيل الزمان والمكان مع عمق نفسي جميل وقدرة بديعة على الوصف , كل ذلك وضعك فى قلب الحدث وجعلم تعايشه . وصف مجتمعي جميل بتأريخ شديد الخصوصية لمجتمع غريب عنك يضيف إلى معارفك الكثير, فأنت لست أمام مجرد رواية أدبية (عادية) بل أنت أمام عمل إنساني كامل , استطاع أن يطوف بك في ثنايا الزمان والمكان ليسطر بقلمه تاريخ مذهل ليقدمه لك. تولستوي : ليس مجرد أديب , بل كان نبي من أنبياء الإنسانية رفيعي الطراز , أولئك الأشخاص الذين بلغ حسهم الإنساني وصدقهم مع أنفسهم وتلك الشفافية التي يتعامل بها , إلى استحقاقه لتلك المنزلة التي يستحقها . ولبد لي أن أسجل أني أحبب (آنا كارنينا)أكث من رائعته الحرب والسلام, رغم اعترافي بأفضلية الثانية عن الأولى .

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    An oak tree that I passed on the way into a town reminded me of the scene in War and Peace in which Andrei Volkonsky passes an oak in late spring and sees himself as that tree - its branches bare even while other trees already are showing bright green leaves. He feels, after his experiences in the novel up to that point, old before his time and looking forward only towards the grave(view spoiler)[ the grave of course, a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace (hide spoiler)] (v An oak tree that I passed on the way into a town reminded me of the scene in War and Peace in which Andrei Volkonsky passes an oak in late spring and sees himself as that tree - its branches bare even while other trees already are showing bright green leaves. He feels, after his experiences in the novel up to that point, old before his time and looking forward only towards the grave(view spoiler)[ the grave of course, a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ as might a weary reader, worn out by the prospect of the book's length (hide spoiler)] . On his return journey he sees that the oak tree too has finally burst into life and Andrei realises that he has fallen in love with Natasha Rostova. This is the way in which War and Peace works well. It is the saga of the journey of a few people, all closely connected if not always related, through life, looking for, or in particular moments feeling, its meaning. The problem comes with the nationalistic meaning that Tolstoy finds. Life at its truest and most vital, as embodied by Natasha Rostova's instinctive folk dancing to her uncle's balalaika playing, comes across as unity with a national spirit that can be known through feeling and not thought. As a result the intellectual approaches taken on the quest for the meaning of life taken by Pierre and Andrei can only lead to partial success in moments when they experience a moment of transcendence, as Andrei does on the battlefield, or by exposure to an authentic, genuine (as imagined by the nobleman Tolstoy) peasant who is by nature filled to the brim with folk wisdom uncontaminated by any alien nurture by foreign teachers as happens to Pierre (spoiler alert )after the French capture Moscow in the form of Platon (the Russian form of Plato)(view spoiler)[ a name which serves of course to show us that he is wise (hide spoiler)] Karateyev. By implication, and this opinion continues over into Anna Karenina, woman, the entire female gender, at least the Russian ones, are superior to the men in so far as they are closer to the national spirit, but this is because they are not intellectual and don't have the intellectual faculties to interfere with their reception of the national will. This allows Tolstoy to assert both the centrality and importance of women at the same time as kicking them upstairs as it were and removing them from any political role. Their purpose is to feel and thus to be the centre of the family, and by extension, the nation. Tolstoy's answer to what is the meaning of life is then tied up in his feelings about what it means to be Russian. This was emphasised by the use of French giving way to Russian in dialogue which was progressively dropped in subsequent editions of War and Peace in Tolstoy's lifetime (although in part this may have been due to the lack of copyright law and the Tolstoys trying to outmanoeuvre pirated editions by releasing genuine new editions with authorial changes and the slow development during the nineteenth century of a Russian reading population which was not French speaking). His idea of the nation is immutable while the people that together form the nation are changeable. This could be a contradiction but Tolstoy was above all a man of feeling. It is a solution that feels right, and Tolstoy's skill as a writer is in creating a wave of feeling that carries you over any awkwardness or mere inconsistencies in his views. In the background of the family saga of War and Peace is the course of relations with France which leads to war and a marked shift by the elite of Russian society towards that universal core of Russian value and meaningfulness and the ascendency of those, like Kutuzov and unlike the German officers, who are closer to that core. This universal core of value and meaning is best represented by the character of Natasha. Natasha's ability to achieve a oneness at an emotional and instinctual level with the core of 'true' Russian culture or the Russian nation is contrasted with alienation from their own nation of Russia's French speaking elite. Other non-peasant characters approach, or briefly pass through that core on their journey through the novel, peasants of course live entirely within it, but only Natasha at times inhabits it entirely. True meaning for Tolstoy can only be felt and not thought and may not even be accessible at all for certain nations such as the French. Tolstoy was writing at a period of the definition of modern Russian nationalism and like many of the other well known Russian novels of the middle of the nineteenth century has come to define both for Russians and non-Russians not just an ideal of Russianness but what it means to be Russian. It is striking then what is left out, you wouldn't guess from reading War and Peace that Russians were simply the most numerous but not a majority of the population of the Russian Empire at the time - non-Russians are largely invisible here. Equally revealing of Tolstoy's own attitudes (and he did write his own 'improved' versions of the Gospels) his picture of Russia epitomises a 'spiritual but not religious' attitude: we see the Enlightenment thinking of the previous generation, spiritual questing, Freemasonry but not much in the way of Orthodoxy. Tolstoy drew extensively from the lives of his own family and his own experiences in creating this ambitious and nationalistic novel. It ranges from the first years of the 19th century to the war of 1812 and the period immediately after. The battle scenes, and his account of Borodino is a classic, and Austerlitz draw on Tolstoy's first hand experience of war at the siege of Sevestopol described in Sevastopol Sketches , indeed this is novel in reaction to the Crimean War, and not the war with Napoleon. Much of the set up is also taken from Tolstoy's own family history, for instance the Volkonskys in the novel are a fictionalised version of his own Bolkonsky relatives (B and V are neighbouring letters in the Russian alphabet so this wasn't a particularly subtle disguise!). This is a long, densely populated, but very simple novel. The exterior course of political events is coupled with the interior course of the characters searching for the meaning and value in life, the parallels between characters give the impression that this isn't a group of individuals searching for their own personal meaning but that there is an objective universal meaning and value to be found that Natasha, or Platon Karataev (view spoiler)[ peasants in Tolstoy's world are like women, incapable of being intellectuals and therefore good, (view spoiler)[I can't help feeling that there is a certain Maoist quality to Tolstoy (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] , are in touch with instinctively. The question for meaning and a structure of values arising from that was a constant feature of Tolstoy's life from his fictionalised account based loosely on his own younger years in Childhood Boyhood Youth to his eventual rejection of the bicycle under the influence of a spiritual mentor (rather like the steam train this insidious non-Russian technology encouraged the movement of people out of their traditional communities and was thus a very bad thing (view spoiler)[ this reminds me of John Harvey Kellogg who believed that people would achieve long term health through regular enemas, sexual abstinence and eating lots of his own Kellogg's cornflakes. Ideas have their lifecycles and their former power over the minds of the forebears can seem simply bizarre to the following generations. Tolstoy wanting to limit the possibilities of travel and people mingling is a logical consequence of his feelings on national identity and similar to the fearfulness that many in western Europe seem to feel today. If your sense of your Imagined Communities is of something fragile and at risk of polluting change from outsiders then the end result has to be segregation and retreat into smaller and less diverse communities. As many books on Russia will point out, the word Mir in Russian means world, peace and peasant commune, Tolstoy I suspect would have seen that as a profoundly meaningful combination. He wasn't alone in his opinion but part of a tide in the nineteenth century which was also to see a fetishisation of the seventeenth century as a Golden age before Western influences (hide spoiler)] Tolstoy attempts to both show individual volition and that events are shaped in such a way that one person's decision cannot change the course of events. It could be that he wanted to imply that the nature and extent of the choices we can take are shaped by events and factors beyond our control (and often our understanding) but I suspect he is having his cake and eating it: if he can't reconcile in his own mind free will and determinism he'll just have both instead. And since it is his novel I suppose that's his prerogative. The lasting impression is though of a simple family saga. Very long and very strong with striking set pieces. It has I feel a kind of a cache, and pure physical bulk (view spoiler)[ judging purely by shelf width Russian books translation into English seem to gain about a third in length as do English books translated into Russian, this I imagine the effect of the different grammars of the two languages requiring complex ways of explaining what is simple to themselves (hide spoiler)] in western Europe which I fear may put readers off, which is a pity because it is quite a self contained book, it is quite careful to tell you what to think of the historical characters and events introduced, and also an enveloping warm bath of a book that has a strong theme of diverse characters searching for meaning and contentment in their lives. I read this in the translation by the Maudes republished by Everyman in a three volume edition. I have no opinion on the qualities of the translation (view spoiler)[ I think these old translations are basically fine and probably have an advantage over more recent ones in being slightly old-fashioned in their diction and tone, Tolstoy was a 19th century writer (hide spoiler)] but I do recommend strongly not trying to read this in a single volume edition unless you have a handy lectern or a desire to build up the muscles in your lower arms and hands.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Apatt

    War and bloody Peace eh? Started June 12, 2013, finished August 26, 2013! How am I supposed to review this?! I will apply my usual rambling slapdash technique I think. War and Peace looks like a formidable challenge for the average reader, in term of length and legendary status, this is not "just another book" you can just read and forget. Personally, I read fiction mainly for entertainment purposes ( the best past time I know), some books I read purely out of curiosity, some books like Moby Dick War and bloody Peace eh? Started June 12, 2013, finished August 26, 2013! How am I supposed to review this?! I will apply my usual rambling slapdash technique I think. War and Peace looks like a formidable challenge for the average reader, in term of length and legendary status, this is not "just another book" you can just read and forget. Personally, I read fiction mainly for entertainment purposes ( the best past time I know), some books I read purely out of curiosity, some books like Moby Dick I even read for bragging right (that did not turn out well!). Anyway, as far as War and Peace is concerned it is a combo of all three, I am glad to report (not brag) that the result turned out to be more than satisfactory as far as I am concerned. The most daunting part of reading this book is when you tentatively start on the first page and constantly feel aware of the remaining thousand or so pages, I think the trick is just to ignore the remaining page weighing down your right hand and just follow the characters along and see what they get up to. After all, you don't need to read the entire book if you don't find the first few chapters to your liking. For myself, I kind of cheated and went the audiobook route which adds up to more than 60 hours in total (read with consummate skill and probably gallons of coffee by Alexander Scourby). I pity the poor chap who read it but then I remembered he probably took well over a month to finish the reading it. In term of entertainment and readability War and Peace easily met these basic requirements for me. It starts off lightly enough with a "soiree", there are several soirees in this book, they seem like high society dinner parties which I avoid like the plague at every opportunity. The reader is gently introduced to the current situation of the day and some central characters also make their first entrances. The narrative then moves from house to house and we soon meet all the central characters, which are surprisingly few in number. Yes, it is a whale of a book with a large cast of characters but there are only a few protagonists for you to concern yourself with. This book is more about the characters than about two countries at war. Looking at the title I believe it is more about peace than about war if anything it seems like an anti-war book to me, the message is not communicated through humor and satire like Heller's Catch-22 but through Tolstoy's profound psychological insight and humanity. This makes it more serious and dryer than Heller's book - and I did doze through the odd passages - but over all, I found it much more rewarding. The main source of pleasure for me are the beautifully developed main characters, they really came alive once I settled into the groove of the book. My favorite character is certainly Pierre Bezukhov, a chubby, sensitive, thoughtful and compassionate gentleman, not your archetypal heroic figure but certainly not an anti-hero. The best part of reading the book for me was to share Pierre's thought processes. He does tend to overthink things and is prone to changing his mind about what the meaning of life really is (a bit like me but with high IQ); following his thoughts is akin to some kind of telepathy. The other central characters are also very nicely fleshed out and believable, particularly the main female character Natasha Rostova who practically grows up before the reader's eyes. A few real-life individuals such as Mikhail Kutuzov and Napoleon Bonaparte are presented to us as part of the novel's cast of characters, whether their fictional representation is true to the real people I can not say but to live inside their heads is a fascinating experience. The prose style (from the English translated version of it) is just stupendous, Tolstoy seems to casually toss in phrases like "sorrowful pleasure" and put it in just the right context. People who like to pick quotations from a book will have a field day with this one. Nary a page goes by without finding something quotable. Here is a couple I picked almost at random: “Here I am alive, and it's not my fault, so I have to try and get by as best I can without hurting anybody until death takes over.” “Because of the self-confidence with which he had spoken, no one could tell whether what he said was very clever or very stupid.” There are dull chapters and passages in several places of the book, the practical side of warfare is of little interest to me, but those are far outweighed by wondrous materials that feed the brain and the heart. At least I picked up some knowledge about "scorched earth principle" and Kutuzov's military genius. Special mention should be made about the epilogues, the two epilogues total moire than 100 pages, the first one wraps up the story of the protagonists and their settled down lives after the war. The second epilogue is something like a treatise on the nature of power, the real causes and meanings of war and so forth. This part of the book is so dry you may want to read it while in a bath. Still, if you have the capacity to patiently absorb what Tolstoy has to say about these weighty matters you will probably be the wiser for it. Basically, the best way to read this book in whatever format is to immerse yourself in the story, the length becomes fairly insignificant once you are along for the ride, of course, you need to have a lot of patience and don't expect to race to the end of the book. Come to think of it reading it just for the bragging right is probably a waste of time. I personally like this book more than Tolstoy's equally legendary Anna Karenina which I also like, but I find War and Peace more emotionally resonant. Certainly, I am glad I read it, and some day (a few years from now) I would be quite happy to read it again.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dem

    Tolstroy's epic masterpiece intertwines the lives of private and public individuals during the time of the Napoleonic wars and the French Invasion of Russia. I had always wanted to read this epic Novel by Tolstroy's but was completely put off by the sheer size of the book at 1350 pages. I am not a lover of books over 500 pages and this was certainly going to be a challenge for me. I have planned a trip to Russia this year and this was the encouragement I needed to finally pick up this novel, also Tolstroy's epic masterpiece intertwines the lives of private and public individuals during the time of the Napoleonic wars and the French Invasion of Russia. I had always wanted to read this epic Novel by Tolstroy's but was completely put off by the sheer size of the book at 1350 pages. I am not a lover of books over 500 pages and this was certainly going to be a challenge for me. I have planned a trip to Russia this year and this was the encouragement I needed to finally pick up this novel, also the fact that the BBC had filmed a new adaptation of the novel which had aired in January and it was getting great reviews. So I approached the masterpiece by ordering a hard copy as I wasn't sure I could handle this one on Kindle. I also taped the complete BBC Series and decided I would watch the first episode to get the characters, names and places firmly set in my head and then read the book as a side read over a three month period(finished it in 6 weeks) I finally finished this masterpiece last night and really did enjoy the read. Today( Mother's day) I sat down and watched several hours of Television Series and really enjoyed so much having completed the book. 1812 napoleon invades Russia in an order to expand his ever-growing Empire. Three Russian families of Nobility The Rostovs, The Bolkonskys and the Bezukonskys become intertwined and an immense story of War, Romance, Riches, betrayals, jealously and hatred make this story so compelling. This is not an easy read by any means as it is a challenge, with all the war descriptions and long descriptive passages and at time dialogs that tends to go on and on and yet its story and characters are amazing and I found myself engrossed and loved picking up the book and getting back to the characters. This is not a book I would recommend friends to read, but if like myself you want a challenge and this is on your TBR List then I would encourage you to read it over a period of time and I think you will be surprised at how readable and enjoyable it really is. I have to applaud the BBC Series which was extremely well adapted to screen and very close to the actual book except for the accents!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Simona Bartolotta

    "She kept thinking that no one could understand all that she understood and all there was in her." Approximately from the start of book three (middle of the whole War and Peace) onwards, the focus massively shifts to military strategy and the specifics of the Napoleonic campaign, and those parts were really difficult to get through. I missed the main characters and wasn't interested. But the first half is inexpressibly beautiful. *To my Italian friends: io ho acquistato anni fa l'edizione della BU "She kept thinking that no one could understand all that she understood and all there was in her." Approximately from the start of book three (middle of the whole War and Peace) onwards, the focus massively shifts to military strategy and the specifics of the Napoleonic campaign, and those parts were really difficult to get through. I missed the main characters and wasn't interested. But the first half is inexpressibly beautiful. *To my Italian friends: io ho acquistato anni fa l'edizione della BUR solo per scoprire che le parti in francese non sono tradotte. Perciò ho recentemente acquistato la versione ebook della Garzanti che non solo ha una traduzione che io trovo scorrevolissima e piacevolissima, ma anche tutte le note del caso e le traduzioni dal francese. Quando avrò modo comprerò anche il cartaceo Garzanti. Per cui, se volete il mio consiglio sull'edizione da scegliere, senza alcun dubbio andate sulla Garzanti, o comunque accertatevi che l'edizione che acquistate traduca il francese.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gautam

    I was sitting in my upstairs room with the Paperback on my lap. I could not believe that all the tumultuous, heart-rending, and unforgettable events I encountered were finally behind me, though safely residing in my memory lane. I closed my eyes and sat pensively without actually thinking anything. A soothing feeling of tranquility gradually possessed me I am calm like a placid sea. Suddenly I heard a bizarre sound: it was like a hoof sound, something galloping in my yard; A horse? .I didn’t op I was sitting in my upstairs room with the Paperback on my lap. I could not believe that all the tumultuous, heart-rending, and unforgettable events I encountered were finally behind me, though safely residing in my memory lane. I closed my eyes and sat pensively without actually thinking anything. A soothing feeling of tranquility gradually possessed me I am calm like a placid sea. Suddenly I heard a bizarre sound: it was like a hoof sound, something galloping in my yard; A horse? .I didn’t open my eyes and tried to envision the cause of these outlandish ,befuddling sounds with my blank, lethargic mind . I followed the sound of footsteps from the yard to the staircase in my mind’s eye; definitely more than 2 people with a lady of-course ( I could hear the faint rustle of silk and light steps) . My calm, saturated mind suddenly seized an imminent prospect of terror! ‘They…’? I mused. I thought I was sleeping and tried not to heed these unremitting chain of events by mentally deeming it as ‘dream’. But I wasn’t even certain if I was dreaming. I was tired in a calm way.I was tired even to think. I was puzzled as to not able to comprehend what was happening around me; I was enfeebled by the huge, overpowering waves of events that had been throbbing against my whole being for over a month. knocks on the door!!! The sound of heaving, coughs, rustles were all distinct now. I tried not to yield to the dream (I seriously thought it was a dream) . No! It can’t be a dream! I started playing a duel with my failing mind and remnant energy. The clicking sound of clock had a portentous import, and the door suddenly clicked open. Two gentlemen and a lady emerged into the room with beaming faces . The Men were in full uniform (I have seen the Russian uniforms in google) and the lady was in a pink silk dress (charming , full of energy) . My heart pounded like a mad man playing drums. My hands froze and my eyes were dazed. Prince Andrei Bolkonski , Count Pierre Bezukov , and Natasha Rostova - they could be no one else as I can spot them even in a crowded street; they were indelible images in my heart. Am I dreaming? Of-course, I am !! But wait! I am not! I see them, right before my eyes. Believe me folks!!!! Pierre: We harnessed our horses to a pole in the backyard. A lady was looking us as if we were demons! *laughs* Me: That’s our maid. (Still unable to recover from the shock) Pierre: You still keep maids? I freed them as soon as I joined free masons. *smiles questioningly* Me: They are not slaves. They can quit whenever they want. They get more income than clerks nowadays. Why were you so confused with your life Pierre? Your aimless wanderings in search of the ‘meaning of life’ had consumed the better part of your life. You have even resorted to free masons for spiritual enlightenment. *cheeks turned crimson at making the unseemly abrupt question* ( I considered these people in front of me as my close relations. I knew everything about them, and I traveled with them in the crests and troughs of their lives). Pierre: *smiles affably* I had been engrossed and appalled by the mystery of life.” What is bad? What is good? What should one love and what hate? What does one live for? And what am I? What is life, and what is death? What power governs it all? “ and the contrived answer my conscience furnished was this :”you’ll die and all will end. You’ll die and know all, or cease asking.” Then one day, on a journey, I happened to meet an Old mason and he imparted me the first shimmering vial of wisdom to my dark, turbid mind. He said: “The highest wisdom and truth are like the purest wisdom we may wish to imbibe. Can I receive that pure liquid into an impure vessel and judge of its purity? Only by inner purification of myself can I retain in some degree of purity the liquid I receive.” And I knew I had to perfect myself to retain the purity of the truths that are revealed to me. Me: And you joined the Old man and free masons inorder to streamline all your faculties and ideas. What if I say-though you considered their teachings and rule with ardent spirit, you later on donned your actual disposition, and you were rebounded back to your brooding, disquieting, absent-minded life. Pierre: That is not so. Living for others is a principle I carried…… Andrei: *interrupts* Everyone lives in his own way .You live for others; I lived for glory. And after all what is glory? The same love for others, a desire to do something for them, a desire for their approval- so I lived for others, and not almost, but had quite ruined my life. And I became calmer ever since I began to live for myself ….until… I met her.* glances at Natasha* I am happy when I can do good, but to remedy injustice is the greatest happiness. Me: Your first meeting with Natasha was very moving. I was so carried away by the blissful, picturesque quality with which you experienced it. girl at the window……. Natasha : *eyes fixed at a random tile* why u had to die Andrew? I know I had vexed you once with my breaking your trust. I was an imbecile back then, and knew nothing but folly. He (Anatole Kuragine) took advantage of my weakness; and when I lost everything (you), I felt I was dead. Everything that once shone before my eyes seemed lackluster after your breaking up with me. For the very first time, I started dreading my life. I thought my existence was abominable. And, finally, fate brought you near me only to witness your death. *sobs* Andrei: And it united us too , momentarily yet eternally. When Pierre first said one must believe in the possibility of love, I denied it. But I started believing it once I saw you. And Pierre is the best husband you may ever get. Aren’t you happy with him? Natasha: *nods with a melancholic smile* Me: (interrupts, feeling things are going too sentimental) Is Napoleon really that abject? Andrei: Our Creator has reiterated the answer for your question in innumerable ways. I think you have forgotten it. It is not the question whether he is abject or not, or whether he is genius or not. Napoleon, like Tsar Alexander, had been just a tool, a mere cog- wheel, in the machine of history. “Man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal aims of humanity. A deed done is irrevocable, and its result coinciding in time with the actions (and spirit) of millions of other men assumes an historic significance. The Higher a man stands o the social ladder, the more people he is connected with and the more power he has over others, the more evident is the predestination and inevitability of his every action. The king’s heart is in the hands of the lord; A king is history’s slave; History use every moment of life of kings as a tool for its own purposes “ 'War and death' has taught me the meaning of ‘divine love’. It was when I saw him (Anatole) dying as he lay prostrate near my bed, my heart kindled with the blazing fire of unconditional love. At that time I felt no animosity toward him, just love. Love in its unadulterated form. “love one’s neighbors, love one’s enemies, love everything, love God in all his manifestations. It is possible to love someone dear to you with human love, but an enemy can only be loved by divine love. When loving with human love, one may pass from love to hatred. But divine love does not change. Neither death nor anything can destroy it. It is the very essence of the soul.” Me : The mystery of love and life , their combination , their complete solubility in the solvent of Faith, which has been revealed to you in your death bed, is one of the most profound of life’s teachings my eyes has ever chanced to see. “Love hinders death. Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is god, and to die means that, I, a part of love shall return to the eternal general source” The Title, “ War and Love” , instead of the present one would have been more appropriate as to the essence and soul of the novel, as Peace, in the unremitting turmoil that pervades throughout the story and individuals alike, seems to be only an unfulfilled wish. Pierre : That’s not true. The absence of suffering, the satisfaction of one’s needs, and consequent freedom in the choice of one’s occupation is indubitably man’s highest happiness , thereby attaining peace. So whatever the context of the story may be, attaining Peace after unrest (war) is the highest form of happiness. The Creator leads the readers to that pinnacle of happiness (peace); to guide you find the light of happiness amid the ghastly darkness of inner turmoil. Me: You have been alluding to this ‘Creator’ for several times now. Do you refer to God? Andrei: I don’t know if u can call him that. We call him ‘Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy’ --------------------------------------------------------------------------- All three of them smiled at me radiantly, like stars in the calm sky. Their smile, their happiness imparted a luminous quality in their eyes. The highest form of happiness, peace, evident in their smooth countenances, shimmered in their faces. I felt a sense of joy brimming in my heart. The remnant dark clouds that reigned over my whole being diffused away to reveal the sunshine of hope and happiness. They smiled radiantly, and knowingly. Their radiance evolved into a blob of bright light.My eyes became dazed or was it the entire room getting filled with pale light? The pale, white light grew as the faces of my friends faded in the overwhelming colorless light that seethed in the room (or my eyes?). The door-knocks resounded in my ears with indomitable ferocity and it grew louder and louder. I got up, lurched forward, staggered to the door, and managed to open it. The pale light abruptly ceased and the maid was standing at the threshold evidently perplexed, with my evening Coffee nestled in her little hands. I looked at her, but my gaze was not fixed at her or anywhere. Wiping my damp forehead mechanically, I half turned to see my brightly-lit room, with golden yellowish light blazing forth through the billowing net curtains, all silent and placid, except for the sound of the fluttering pages of the wide-opened War and Peace which lay on the bed majestically. “truk tuk tuk* The Creator of this Saga, Leo Tolstoy, with his unparalleled brilliance sketched a vast panorama of Love, hatred, war, and existence; and all we have to do, as a reader, is to bask in all the mind- enriching things he had proffered in his magnum opus. 5 stars on 5 ! -gautam (Note : the whole scenario above is purely imaginative) P.S : Best moments : 1. Prince Andrei during Battle at Austerlitz : “Above him there was now nothing but the sky- the lofty sky, not clear yet immeasurably lofty, with grey clouds gliding slowly across it. ‘How peaceful, quiet and solemn not at all as I ran’, thought Prince Andrew-‘not as we ran, shouting and fighting ,not at all the gunner and the Frenchman with frightened and angry faces struggled for the mop ; how differently do those clouds glide across that lofty infinite sky! How was it I did not see that lofty sky before? And how happy I am to have found it at last! Yes! All is vanity, all falsehood, except that infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing, but that. But even it does not exist, there is nothing but quiet and peace. ‘Thank God!’” 2. Prince Andrew and the Old Oak Tree : “Yes, here in this forest was that oak which I agreed. He started gazing at the left side of the road, and without recognizing it he looked with admiration he sought. The Old oak, quite transfigured, spreading out a canopy of sappy dark- green foliage,stood rapt and slightly trembling in the rays of evening sun. Neither gnarled fingers nor old scars nor old doubts and sorrows were any of them in evidence now. Through the hard century old-bark, even where there were no twigs, leaves had sprouted such as one could hardly believe the old veteran could have produced. All at once Prince Andrew was seized by an unreasoning spring-time feeling of joy and renewal. All the best moments of his life rose to his memory. ‘ No ! life is not over at thirty-one. It is not enough for me to know what I have in me! ‘“ 3. Germination of love in Pierre for Natasha: “On the contrary he gazed joyfully, his eyes moist with tears, at this bright comet ( comet of the year 1812) which, having traveled in its orbit with inconceivable velocity through immeasurable space, seemed suddenly- like an arrow piercing the earth- to remain fixed in a chosen spot, vigorously holding its tail erect, shining and displaying its white light amid countless other scintillating stars. It seemed to Pierre that this comet fully responded to what was passing in his own softened and uplifted soul, now blossoming into a new life.” Personal Advice if you are planning to read War and Peace: 1.Buy a paperback (refrain from using kindle atleast for one time) so as to enjoy the physical presence of the book along with the comfort rendered by the novel. 2.You don’t have to write down the character names. (if you read wholeheartedly and not merely as a challenge). There are only a dozen prominent characters and you will be well acquainted with them with the progress of the story. 3.I found the theories interesting. If you are not a big fan of theories and their detailed explanation, skip some parts along the road. (Especially of history, Napoleon’s folly etc). I guarantee it won’t meddle too much with the soul of the novel. (edited 4 times)

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