Penguin Classics War And Peace Paperback – Apr 29 2003
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About the Author
Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 at Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, and educated privately. He studied Oriental languages and law at the University of Kazan, then led a life of pleasure until 1851 when he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus. He took part in the Crimean War and after the defence of Sebastopol he wrote The Sebastopol Sketches (1855-6), which established his reputation. After a period in St Petersburg and abroad, where he studied educational methods for use in his school for peasant children in Yasnaya Polyana, he married Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862. The next fifteen years was a period of great happiness; they had thirteen children, and Tolstoy managed his vast estates in the Volga Steppes, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). A Confession (1879-82) marked a spiritual crisis in his life; he became an extreme moralist and in a series of pamphlets after 1880 expressed his rejection of state and church, indictment of the weaknesses of the flesh and denunciation of private property. His teaching earned him numerous followers at home and abroad, but also much opposition, and in 1901 he was excommuincated by the Russian Holy Synod. He died in 1910, in the course of a dramamtic flight from home, at the small railway station of Astapovo. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Tolstoy was a member of the nobility and, by standards of the day, could have been considered a social reformer trying to improve the lot of the peasants. You will usually find a character in his novels that reflects his own attitudes (but not the principal character). He wrote and published novels in installments. To produce this properly in a film media would require making a lengthy TV series, somewhat like "Upstairs, Downstairs." I am surprised that has not been done.
The novel covers the rise and fall of the fortunes of the family and the people around them. The family's fortunes are shattered by a variety of circumstances including bad management of money and the French invasion. Partly the head of the family puts the welfare of others ahead of his own family. When the French are at the gates of Moscow, and they have wagons to save their belongings, they leave their own possessions behind in order to use the wagons to rescue wounded Russian soldiers.
Eventually, the next generation is left with the task of salvaging what remains and restoring the family fortunes.
Certainly it had an appalling cover, and had spelling and typesetting mistakes, and the font was too small, but still - I had discovered a brilliant translation of a brilliant book. It took me three months to read it. I don't have a clue how I did it, or why - but the book made a big impression on me.
Eight years later, and the book still wows me.
Very roughly, the book describes the interactions between five prominent aristocratic families in Russia as they live through the Napoleonic Wars (1804-1815).
Trying to describe the plot of War and Peace is like trying to describe the "plot" of a zoo or a botanical park. The events are presented shapelessly and meanderingly, with little apparent structure.
It is character rather than event that makes this book memorable. No one could define character and moivation like Tolstoy. His characters are always ensnared by their own character traits, which are made clear to the audience by their reactions to events.
One scene has the teenaged Nicholas Rostov, who is very close to his father, incur a gambling debt - something he did not habitually do. He has toi get his father to pay it. At first he decides to throw himself on his father's mercy - but of course, he is a young soldier, trying to prove he is grown up. So he pretends to be arrogant and coldly tells his father of the debt; and asks him to pay it. "It happens to everyone" he says brusquely, although he feels awful saying it.Read more ›
Those who read history know that by the early 1800s, Napoleon had captured most of Europe. Only the discipline and seamanship of the Royal Navy had kept him from swallowing all of it. In his grandiosity he lined up his next target, fabled Moscow, sent in the army, burned the city; but Russia was the rock upon which his Grand Armee shattered. By the time it ran back to France, most of its vitality lay dying in the Russian winter. That's the historical context of the novel.
For me the start was a slow read--all those balls and drawing rooms and Russian high society--but only until realizing that Tolstoy was setting the stage, introducing key characters, and making an ironic contrast between the insulated world of the nobility and the blood and death that would soon pierce it.
What stood out most for me: people and events. What a gallery of people: the parasitic Anna Mihalovna and her insipid son Boris; the callous Don Juanism of Anatole; his psychopathic friend Dolohov; Sonya, clever but faded; the unstoppable Denisov, the Wobin Hood of Wussia ("Weload!"); Prince Andrei, fated for a moment of battlefield transcendence in which even Napoleon seems paltry and limited; girlish Natasha; and Pierre, living proof of William Blake's dictum that excess can lead to wisdom.
In charge of the Russian army: Field Marshal Kutuzov, as weary and patient as the ground he defended. The clever and enduring peasant Karatayev might serve as his spiritual counterpart, the first an exemplar of the Russian heart, the second a bearer of its soul.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Unbelievable, simply unbelievable that the geniuses at the American Literary Society, or wherever the hell they translated the title of this novel, that they would do it... Read morePublished on June 29 2004
What is Power? What is the power which moves nations? This is the ultimate question of War and Peace. The growth of the characters is amazing. Totally recomended.Published on June 11 2004
This book is so trancendent, sublime, and all encompassing. Words are not enough. No novel is more thought provoking or rewarding. Read morePublished on Feb. 21 2004 by some guy
Plot and history intertwined. It's long but fascinating. I read it for a class, and I could read the basics, then go back and enjoy it all. Everyone should read.Published on Feb. 18 2004 by R. Hahn
After reading such a huge book, it's tempting to congratulate oneself and then accord it the status of a great piece of literature (perhaps the argument running that it must have... Read morePublished on Dec 17 2003 by MR G. Rodgers
Through Tolstoy's mastery of device, confutation, and liminality, we are graced in this age with easily available wisdom from a great sage of the "Pleh" era. Read morePublished on Oct. 26 2003 by Nanx Hedwerp
I checked War and Peace out from my school library (I'm a 7th grader--yes, that's what I said) because I wanted to be able to say that I had read War and Peace. Read morePublished on Oct. 17 2003
This novel covers fifteen years in the lives of several noble families from early XIX-century Russia, at the time of the Napoleonic wars. Read morePublished on Oct. 9 2003 by Guillermo Maynez
Tolstoy's characters are universal. One can imagine human spirit as a "space" in the mathematical sense. Read morePublished on Oct. 6 2003 by N. Delen
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