War and Peace: Original Version

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Harper Collins, Sep 2, 2008 - Fiction - 912 pages
1 Review

A grand, romantic saga of two noble Russian families and a multitude of lives swept up in the violent tumult of the Napoleonic Wars, Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace is considered one of the preeminent literary works of all time. Tolstoy originally completed this novel in 1866, but it was not until years later—after the author had doubled the book's length with philosophical and historical meditations—that the great novel was published. More than half a century in the making, the result of extraordinary dedication and pains-taking research, here is Tolstoy's original version of this timeless classic, which never made it into print during the author's lifetime.

Now readers can enjoy the epic and unforgettable story as the novelist originally intended—with its subtly different characters, dialogue, and ending—and experi-ence anew the breathtaking masterpiece that has inspired love and devotion for generations.

 

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The ending was not cathartic but it did wind down nicely during the resolution. While a relatively happy ending, it remained plausible and realistic. The title of the book fairly well describes it’s contents. The novel flashes back & forth between scenes during the Napoleonic war of 1812 and domestic scenes of high society. It follows five families: Bezukohv, Rostov, Bolkonsky, Drubetskoy, and Kuragin through the trials of battle & aristocratic society. There are many passages when the author waxes philosophic upon war and cynical upon the aristocracy. I found these passages both interesting and poignant though some have argued they are tedious. A worthy comparison might be “With Fire & Sword” by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Sienkiewicz however writes more about war and a love story with a few main characters while Tolstoy focuses more on society with a large number of characters.
War & Peace had a chapter devoted to the aristocracy attending the opera. The fashionable nobility doesn’t watch the show but attends rather to see and be seen. This was a line I immediately recognized from Dangerous Liaisons. Subsequent chapters detail a vigorous seduction campaign enacted by Anatol Kuragin with the help of his sister Countes Helena against the young attractive ingénue Natasha. Sound familiar? It seems like the author of Dangerous Liaisons took the two chapters of War & Peace devoted to the aristocracy and their social intrigues and expanded the idea to a book. When we consider that War & Peace reveals a strong association between French and Russian high society of the time it becomes even more obvious that author Piere Choderlos de laclos drew his inspiration from Leo Tolstoy. Though from the movie it would seem that the characters in Dangerous Liaisons are considerably more cruel and jaded than the characters in War & Peace who tend more toward wanton self satisfaction and not intentional malice. Both sets of characters however are notable for being quite superficial and several of the characters in War & Peace struggle with finding meaning in their lives. One common theme with Feodor Dostoyevskis works is the predilection with wealth as definition of a gentlemen. This theme finds it’s way into Dicken’s works occasionally as well but it is more understated with him as he focuses on more meaningful character interactions.
 

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About the author (2008)

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) is the author of War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Family Happiness, and other classics of Russian literature.

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