Set against the backdrop of a vast country under dire threat and containing fourteen hundred pages, five hundred characters, and a serious attempt to resolve the questions of how best to live life, this is the basis of the world's finest novel, War and Peace.
It is first and foremost a cornucopia of compelling narrative entertainment on a grand scale, but on a more personal level there are a series of moving stories brimming with intimate detail and with shocking relevance to our own lives and times.
Now available is a new translation of this great classic, the first for half a century, and the first by a man for more than a hundred years. The idiom has been sensitively updated, so as not to betray the original through the vulgarity of sweeping modernisation, but instead to alter the tone gently from the delicate, upper-class English of earlier versions to the kind of vigorous, ordinary speech, which directly reflects Tolstoy's demotic Russian.
Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace is a sprawling epic covering the impact of Napoleon's disastrous invasion of Russia on five different families. This Penguin Classics edition is translated with an introduction and notes by Anthony Briggs, with an afterword by Orlando Figes, author of A People's Tragedy: Russian Revolution 1891-1924. At a glittering society party in St Petersburg in 1805, conversations are dominated by the prospect of war. Terror swiftly engulfs the country as Napoleon's army marches on Russia, and the lives of three young people are changed forever. The stories of quixotic Pierre, cynical Andrey and impetuous Natasha interweave with a huge cast, from aristocrats and peasants to soldiers and Napoleon himself. In War and Peace, Tolstoy entwines grand themes - conflict and love, birth and death, free will and faith - with unforgettable scenes of nineteenth-century Russia, to create a magnificent epic of human life in all its imperfection and grandeur. Anthony Briggs's superb translation combines stirring, accessible prose with fidelity to Tolstoy's original, while Orlando Figes's afterword discusses the novel's vast scope and depiction of Russian identity. This edition also contains appendices, notes, a list of prominent characters and maps. Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) was born at Yasnaya Polyana, in central Russia. After marrying Sofya Behrs in 1862, Tolstoy settled down, managing his estates and writing two of his best-known novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1878). In 1884 Tolstoy experienced a spiritual crisis, becoming an extreme moralist, rejecting the state, the church and private property. His last novel, Resurrection (1900), was written to raise money for the Doukhobor sect of Christian spiritualists. If you enjoyed War and Peace, you might also like Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.
'A masterpiece ... This new translation is excellent'
'A book that you don't just read, you live'
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.
“There remains the greatest of all novelists—for what else can we call the author of War and Peace?” —Virginia Woolf
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