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War and Peace by Léon Tolstoï

War and Peace (1868)

by Léon Tolstoï

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,049256104 (4.27)19 / 1777
  1. 100
    Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (chrisharpe)
  2. 70
    Life and Fate by Vassili Grossman (chrisharpe, longway)
  3. 30
    Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (roby72)
  4. 20
    History by Elsa Morante (roby72)
  5. 10
    La Lumière des justes by Henri Troyat (Eustrabirbeonne)
    Eustrabirbeonne: Well, Henri Troyat is no Tolstoy of course, and he did not pretend he was : he described himself as a mere "storyteller". Yet some of his fiction is real good, and this "cycle" is certainly his best. And of course, Russian-born Lev Aslanovich Tarasov had in mind the never-written sequel to "War and Peace" about the Decembrist uprising, which Tolstoy initiates in the final chapters of "War and Peace" with his hints at Pierre's active participation in a "society". Would Natasha, already a mother of four in 1820, have left her children behind to follow Pierre in Siberia, as other convicts' wives did?… (more)
  6. 10
    The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy (BINDINGSTHATLAST)
  7. 11
    Traveller of the Century by Andrés Neuman (rrmmff2000)
  8. 11
    The Years by Virginia Woolf (roby72)
  9. 11
    Los mas bellos cuentos rusos. Prologo con resena critica de la obra, vida y obra del autor, y marco historico. (Spanish Edition) by Alexander Pushkin (carajava)
    carajava: Es muy recomendable despues o, en todo caso antes de leer guerra y paz, puesto que, mejorarà tu forma de ver el mundo donde viviàn los rusos, comprenderlo y razonar sus precarias situaciònes.
  10. 13
    Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (chrisharpe)

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Topics messagesLast message 
History at 30,000 feet: The Big Picture : WWII, from the inside 10 unread / 10cbellia, February 2012
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 3, Part III 10 unread / 10Rebeki, July 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 3, Part II 10 unread / 10Rebeki, July 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 2, Part V 12 unread / 12Rebeki, July 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 2, Part IV 7 unread / 7Rebeki, July 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Epilogue II 9 unread / 9cushlareads, June 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 1, Part 3 spoiler thread 13 unread / 13Rebeki, June 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Epilogue I 8 unread / 8JanetinLondon, June 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 4, Part IV 7 unread / 7JanetinLondon, June 2011
Book talk : War And Peace 8 unread / 8Sandydog1, May 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 1, Part 2 spoiler thread 13 unread / 13Deern, May 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - "Wrap Up" (spoiler) Thread 6 unread / 6JanetinLondon, May 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 4, Part III 3 unread / 3JanetinLondon, May 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 4, Part II 6 unread / 6JanetinLondon, May 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 1, Part 1 spoiler thread 16 unread / 16JanetinLondon, May 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 4, Part I 7 unread / 7JanetinLondon, May 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Intro thread (no spoilers) 41 unread / 41Deern, May 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 3, Part I 8 unread / 8cushlareads, May 2011
75 Books Challenge for 2011 : War and Peace Group Read 2011 - Vol 2, Part III 5 unread / 5Deern, March 2011
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English (240)  Spanish (7)  Dutch (5)  French (2)  Hebrew (2)  German (1)  All languages (257)
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I can't take any more of this overambitious crap. With more than 50 hours remaining on the audio book, I'm just going to cut my losses.
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
I'm never reading this book in 3 1/2 days again. If you want the easy time of it watch the film with Audrey Hepburn then read the last 100-150 pages of the book. ( )
  DaffiMere | Feb 16, 2015 |
Very slowly reading this, I'm about 35% in. I only read my kindle on public transport which is why it's taking so long. This modern translation is much better than the Constance Garnett, I can fathom who is who and the dialogue reads more smoothly.
  mlfhlibrarian | Feb 11, 2015 |
This one I also "read" long ago. Actually it was read to me by Alexander Scourby on long-playing records in 1969 because I was able to get "books for the blind" at the time. I still hear the prose in his deep, resonant voice. I was a big fan of Russian literature at the time, and this has never ceased. I was especially glad to counteract the Dostoyevskian Christianity I had been taught with Tolstoy's idea that the kingdom of God is within you.
  conniekronlokken | Jan 6, 2015 |
Writing an original, cogent and halfway-intelligent review of War and Peace in English is as daunting a task as reading Tolstoy’s opus magnum to begin with. Why, then, would I risk making a mockery of myself by awarding it only three stars? I’ll explain, and thereby attempt to justify this near condemnation of a world-renowned work — a work, by the way, which Tolstoy himself says (in the Appendix) is not a novel, but which critics and the reading public in general call just that. And so, rather than skirt controversy on this minor point, I will, too.

Although I’d hesitate to call Tolstoy a stylist, there are (in over 1,200 pages of relatively small print) a number of instances in which he goes out on a literary limb. One such is on p. 524:

“Nikolai set out after the first troika; behind him the rest came rattling and screeching. At first they went at a slow trot along the narrow road. As they drove past the garden, shadows from the bare trees often lay across the road and obscured the bright light of the moon, but as soon as they drove beyond the fence, a plain of snow, sparkling like diamonds, with a dove-blue sheen, bathed in moonlight and motionless, opened out on all sides. Once, twice the front sleigh jolted over a bump; the next sleigh jolted in the same way, then the next, and, boldly breaking the frost-bound stillness, the sleighs strung out one after the other.”

While I realize that being in the least bit critical of Leo Tolstoy’s prose borders on iconoclasm, I nevertheless have to pose the question: am I the only reader in Christendom who looks at this and wonders about certain punctuation, not to mention about the possibility of a run-on sentence or two in this otherwise lyrical passage — so atypical of Tolstoy both in War and Peace and in Anna Karenina (the only other work of his I’ve read and reviewed both here and at Amazon)?

I give full credit, by the way, for an accurate translation (and transcription) of this work to Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. I believe that they — much to their credit — would not have corrected any of Tolstoy’s prose. And so, I can only conclude that Tolstoy himself is to blame for any weakness or sloppiness in his work. When I was a student of Russian language and literature at Columbia a few decades ago, Constance Garnett was considered the reigning queen in matters of English-language translations of the Russian classics. To me at the time, her work frequently read like that of a testosterone-spiked teenager out for a drunken spin on a Friday night. Not so with Pevear and Volokhonsky, who are studied and meticulous in their translation both of this work and of others I’ve read in the past.

Tolstoy is a first-rate story-teller, make no mistake about it. And he paints a rather deplorable picture of both the Russian aristocracy of the time and of the singularly solipsistic, narcissistic and megalomaniac Napoleón Bonaparte in particular. But he’s simply sloppy in his prose, a fair portion of which is just not the handiwork of a brilliant and careful writer (e.g., Gustave Flaubert).

While I don’t know that his generalized observations about the character and comportment of several European nationalities is a mark of genius, I did find his descriptions of Germans, Frenchmen, Englishmen, Italians and Russians (on p. 639) to be amusing, entertaining and — let’s be frank — damned accurate!

All of the above notwithstanding, I’ll give you that there are several passages in the novel (unfortunately, too lengthy to cite here in their entirety, but I’ll quote the first and last sentences of each) that are particularly well-crafted and that I’d describe as quintessentially Tolstoy. The first begins at the bottom of p. 605 and concludes at the bottom of p. 606.

“Kings are the slaves of history … Their every action, which to them seems willed by themselves, in the historical sense is not willed, but happens in connection with the whole course of history and has been destined from before all ages.”

A second comprises the entirety of Volume III, Part 2, Chapter 1 (pp. 682 – 682).

“Napoleon started the war with Russia because he could not help going to Dresden, could not help getting befuddled with honors, could not help putting on a Polish uniform, yielding to the heartening impression of a June morning, could not refrain from outbursts of anger in the presence of Kurakin and then of Balashov…Napoleon goes further, we retreat, and the very thing is achieved that was to defeat Napoleon.”

A third (Vol. III, Part 2, XXVII) begins on p. 783 and ends on p. 785: “Many historians say that the battle of Borodino…fulfilled his [Napoleon’s] role of seeming to command.”

A fourth (Vol. III, Part 3, I) begins on p. 821 and finishes up on p. 823: “For human reason, absolute continuity…their reflections on the occasion of those deeds.”

And then we have the Epilogue to War and Peace in which Tolstoy waxes quite philosophical (in Part 1, I-IV and the entire Part 2, which offers a lengthy monograph on freedom versus necessity) when he’s not sounding downright balzacien (Part 1, V-XVI).

Prior to a most admirable Epilogue, however, we get the laconically poetic passage Pevear cites in his Introduction: “…drops dripped…whistled the saber, and again the horses scuffled and neighed…” (p. 1,055). Having once wrestled with my own metrical translation of Sergei Yesenin’s poem, “A Letter to My Mother” for inclusion in my novel, Trompe-l’oeil, I can certainly appreciate not only Tolstoy’s alliterative skill, but also Pevear’s equally alliterative and artful translation.

But what of Tolstoy’s — overwrought, in my opinion — metaphor on pp. 874-875, in which he compares the desertion of Moscow (just before the French invasion) with an abandoned beehive? Where was his writer’s nose at that point?

These examples show not only the genius of the work, and of the man, but also its — and his — shortcomings. I just don’t believe he was as good a writer (or at least an editor) as he was a thinker. After all, every writer has the opportunity to edit and polish his own work, and no one’s pointing a gun at him to get on with the process.

And so, given what we know about Tolstoy’s later years, I think the Latin citation (in footnote #9, on p. 1,237) is most appropriate — and herewith, I’ll end my review except for one little piece of advice to you, a potential reader of War and Peace:

“Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat.” *

And the advice? Do not try to read this book on the subway! One or the other will find you dead on the tracks.

Brooklyn, NY
[b:Trompe-l'oeil|10844205|Trompe-l'oeil|Russell Bittner|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327873786s/10844205.jpg|15758639]

* “Those whom God wants to destroy, he first drives mad.” ( )
1 vote RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 240 (next | show all)
[Note: This review refers mainly to the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation in comparison to other translations.]

The Russian language is the real hero of Tolstoy’s masterpiece; it is his voice of truth. The English-speaking world is indebted to these two magnificent translators, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, for revealing more of its hidden riches than any who have tried to translate the book before.

» Add other authors (66 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tolstoï, Léonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Edmonds, RosemaryTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Adler, MortimerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alcántara, Francisco JoséTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Andresco, IreneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Andresco, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bahar, NurettinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bayley, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boutelje, A. E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Briggs, AnthonyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cadei, ErmeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Conrad-Lütt, BarbaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dahl, HjalmarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunnigan, AnnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eberle, TheodorIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eichenberg, FritzIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Faber zu Faur, Christian Wilhelm vonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fadiman, CliftonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Figes, OrlandoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foote, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freedman, BarnettIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fuller, EdmondEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garnett, ConstanceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibian, GeorgeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gifford, HenryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grusemann, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hilbert, ErnestIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hockenberry, JohnAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hollo, J. A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hutchins, Robert M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kúper, LydiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kropotkin, AlexandraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laín Entralgo, JoséTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malcovati, FaustoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maude, AylmerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maude, Louise ShanksTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maugham, W. SomersetEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mongault, HenriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pacini, GianlorenzoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Papma, DieuwkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pascal, PierreIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Röhl, HermannTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rho, AnitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sýkora, VilémTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sibaldi, IgorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sibley, DonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomassen, EjnarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Topolski, FelixIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verestchagin, VassilyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volokhonsky, LarissaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vries, H.R. deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vries, René deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whitman, J. FranklinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Well, Prince, Genoa and Lucca are now no more than private estates of the Bonaparte family."
Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes. (Maude/Maude)
War is not a polite recreation but the vilest thing in life, and we ought to understand that and not play at war.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the complete work "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy. Do not combine with single volumes of the work, or with abridgments of the work.
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War and Peace is universally acclaimed as one of the supreme classics of world literature. The subject of the novel is the gigantic canvas of all life - as revealed against the monumental background of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812.It is a teeming panorama of tsarist aristocrats and humble peasants, heroic battles, vainglorious soldiers, cowards, sages and fools.

War and Peace is not only the awesome spectacle of two worlds - France and Russia - caught in a life-and-death struggle, but it also captures with brilliance and for all time the moving forces of history which change and illuminate men's lives.

This special modern abridgment has been prepared by Ernest J Simmons, former Chairman of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature, Columbia University, and one of the leading world critics of Russian literature. 
He has also written the introduction.

The authorized translation by Louise and Alymer Maude
Abridged, Edited and with an Introduction By Earnest J Simmons
Published by Washington Square, 1963
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307266931, Hardcover)

From Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the best-selling, award-winning translators of Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov, comes a brilliant, engaging, and eminently readable translation of Leo Tolstoy’s master epic.

War and Peace centers broadly on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three of the best-known characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count who is fighting for his inheritance and yearning for spiritual fulfillment; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who leaves behind his family to fight in the war against Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, the beautiful young daughter of a nobleman, who intrigues both men. As Napoleon’s army invades, Tolstoy vividly follows characters from diverse backgrounds—peasants and nobility, civilians and soldiers—as they struggle with the problems unique to their era, their history, and their culture. And as the novel progresses, these characters transcend their specificity, becoming some of the most moving—and human—figures in world literature.

Pevear and Volokhonsky have brought us this classic novel in a translation remarkable for its fidelity to Tolstoy’s style and cadence and for its energetic, accessible prose. With stunning grace and precision, this new version of War and Peace is set to become the definitive English edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:30 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

From Pevear and Volokhonsky, the bestselling, award-winning translators of "Anna Karenina" and "The Brothers Karamazov," comes a brilliant, engaging, and eminently readable translation of Tolstoy's master epic.

» see all 34 descriptions

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12 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141025115, 0140447938, 0451532112

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