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. In Russia s struggle with Napoleon, Tolstoy saw a tragedy that involved all mankind Greater than a historical chronicle, War and Peace is an affirmation of life itself, a complete picture , as a contemporary reviewer put it, of everything in which people find their happiness and greatness, their grief and humiliation Tolstoy gave his personal approval to this translation, published here in a new single volume edition, which includes an introduction by Henry Gifford, and Tolstoy s important essay Some Words about War and Peace. Before I turned the last page of this massive volume, which had been neglected in my bookshelves for 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 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 war for these battered pages but everlasting peace emanating from my shelves for all times to come My traveling companion in MachuPicchu 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 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 verymuch 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 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 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 himThe 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. 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 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 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 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 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 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 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. 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 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 about people than anything else and this is the reason that I saw this book through and enjoyed the journey. 857 War and Peace, Leo TolstoyWar 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 1978 1334 19 675 1356 857 War and Peace, Leo TolstoyWar 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 1978 1334 19 675 1356 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 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 .