War and Peace
By Leo Tolstoy, Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky
Why this book?
The 6 ½ hour Russian version of War and Peace came to town when I was working as an English teacher in Hokkaido, Japan. I watched the whole thing in Russian with Japanese subscripts translated to me by my friend, Mr. Genzu. What an incredible story!
The book itself, which I first read in college, chronicles Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1805 and tells the stories of five Russian aristocratic families, with its primary hero, Pierre, an alter-ego for Tolstoy himself. Tolstoy brought a new kind of consciousness to the novel. His story has both a God’s eye point of view with individual character points of view, in sharp detail, woven throughout. Critics have compared Tolstoy’s style to the movies, because of his use of panning, wide shots and close-ups. He worked with primary sources—interviews and journals and his own Crimean War experience—to recreate the battle for Moscow which took place sixty years before Tolstoy wrote and published his novel in 1863. Pierre Bezhukov is seeking truth and his self-discoveries during the outrage of Napoleon’s invasion show us why this novel may be the greatest novel ever written.
I love this
book because I so deeply admire
Tolstoi’s ability to weave together sweeping history and relational drama. Because I believe each of us is part of both
sweeping history and lots of small interpersonal drama.
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