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War and Peace: Original Version

War and Peace: Original Version [Kindle Edition]

Leo Tolstoy
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"There remains the greatest of all novelists--for what else can we call the author of War and Peace?"
--Virginia Woolf

"From the Paperback edition."

Product Description

An alternative version – the one Tolstoy originally intended, but has been hitherto unpublished – of Russia’s most famous novel; with a different ending, fewer digressions and an altered view of Napoleon – it’s time to look afresh at one of the world’s favourite books.

‘War and Peace’ is a masterpiece – a panoramic portrait of Russian society and its descent into the Napoleonic Wars which for over a century has inspired reverential devotion among its readers.

This version is certain to provoke controversy and devotion in equal measures. A ‘first draft’ of the epic version known to all, it was completed in 1866 but never published. A closely guarded secret for a century and a half, the unveiling of the original version of ‘War and Peace’, with an ending different to that we all know, is of huge significance to students of Tolstoy. But it is also sure to prove fascinating to the general reader who will find it an invigorating and absorbing read. Free of the solemn philosophical wanderings, the drama and tragedy of this sweeping tale is reinforced. His characters remain central throughout, emphasising their own personal journeys, their loves and passions, their successes and failures and their own personal tragedies.

500 pages shorter, this is historical fiction at its most vivid and vital, and readers will marvel anew at Tolstoy’s unique ability to conjure the lives and souls of Russia and the Russians in all their glory. For devotees who long for more, for those who struggled and didn’t quite make it to the end, or for those who have always wanted to know what all the fuss is about, this is essential reading.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2590 KB
  • Print Length: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (7 Oct 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FPYX6I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #265,435 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on the family estate of Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, where he spent most of his early years, together with his several brothers. In 1844 he entered the University of Kazan to read Oriental Languages and later Law, but left before completing a degree. He spent the following years in a round of drinking, gambling and womanizing, until weary of his idle existence he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus in 1851.

He took part in the Crimean war and after the defence of Sevastopol wrote The Sevastopol Sketches (1855-6), which established his literary reputation. After leaving the army in 1856 Tolstoy spent some time mixing with the literati in St Petersburg before travelling abroad and then settling at Yasnaya Polyana, where he involved himself in the running of peasant schools and the emancipation of the serfs. His marriage to Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862 marked the beginning of a period of contentment centred around family life; they had thirteen children. Tolstoy managed his vast estates, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote both his great novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).

During the 1870s he underwent a spiritual crisis, the moral and religious ideas that had always dogged him coming to the fore. A Confession (1879-82) marked an outward change in his life and works; he became an extreme rationalist and moralist, and in a series of pamphlets written after 1880 he rejected church and state, indicted the demands of flesh, and denounced private property. His teachings earned him numerous followers in Russia and abroad, and also led finally to his excommunication by the Russian Holy Synod in 1901. In 1910 at the age of eighty-two he fled from home 'leaving this worldly life in order to live out my last days in peace and solitude'; dying some days later at the station master's house at Astapovo.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic if there was one. 24 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There is little more to add to the already very substantial collection of superlatives already acquired by this author and this book. Classic in every possible way, it is highly readable. It draws the reader into the world of Tsarist Russia at the time of Napoleon. It interweaves around true moments, particularly battles such as Austerlitz and Borodino . It deals with the French aggression at this period and demonstrates so well just how the overpowering, fawning, sycophancy of those in imperialist Russia pervaded all society. It follows a group of disparate fictional characters, who in turn mingle with real personalities and how the threats of invasion of their country, including the events leading up to and beyond, of the self immolation of Moscow were considered and ultimately faced. I have read this tome 3 times now and can still enjoy it. It is superbly and colourfully written, its characters are vividly brought to life with attention to the minutest details of their existence. Outstanding in every possible way.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Story Shame About the Typos 10 Feb 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
As per the title, this is a great story but the jokers who put this together have left at times one major typo per page for pages! I've just seen fart instead of fact on one page. hopefully the proof reader who quality controlled this text has decided on a different career.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Achievement 18 Oct 2007
By Bentley
"Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the
Buonapartes. But I warn you, if you don't tell me that this means war,
if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by
that Antichrist--I really believe he is Antichrist--I will have
nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend, no longer
my 'faithful slave,' as you call yourself! But how do you do? I see
I have frightened you--sit down and tell me all the news."

- Anna Pavlovna in War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

It was 1805 and the novel opens up at a reception given by Anna. With these words she greeted Prince Vasili Kuragin who we learn in the novel is a personage of stature and importance among the St. Petersburg elite.

Anna is referring to Napoleon as the antichrist, she feels that he is routing Europe; and that the king of Russia, Alexander I, must save them all against this terrible and dreadful man.

And so begins one of the most famous masterpieces of all time.

WAR AND PEACE has a simple plot which encompasses the valiant attempts by the Russian people to hold off a military invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte and the French. Some of the segments of the novel deal with war strategy which could have benefited leaders if they simply perhaps had read Tolstoy.

As the story begins we find that the Russians have formed an unlikely alliance with the Austrians. Because of this alliance, we find the small and inadequate Russian army having to march from Moscow to Austria. That in of itself is daunting.

This alliance falters at best and as a consequence the Russian army loses almost all of its army resulting oddly enough in several years of peace.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
228 of 250 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of most misleading stunts in the history of publishing 29 Oct 2007
By Robert Moore - Published on
This is one of the worst abominations in the history of publishing. As multiple Tolstoy scholars and translators have already pointed out, this is NOT a translation of a "version" of WAR AND PEACE, let alone the "original" version. It is a translation of a draft and very definitely not anything that was intended as a final draft. Tolstoy definitely never intended it to be published.

The only thing I can figure is that the publisher Ecco is cynically milking a public that suffers from mass attention deficit disorder. This is pandering of the worst possible kind. If they were marketing it as a translation of a draft this would be a different matter, but they are marketing it as the "original" version, which it most assured is not. It is simply an unfinished draft.

An anecdote seems apt here. For many years Henry James sent his older and more talented brother William copies of his novels. Henry suffered from an inferiority complex and was always anxious to hear what William's reaction would be. When William didn't respond to one such novel, Henry wrote him asking what he thought. "It's not WAR AND PEACE," re replied. Who knew that the same could be said of a "translation" of WAR AND PEACE itself?

My recommendation: read WAR AND PEACE. I read this original in the famous Maude translation and later in the Rosemary Edmonds translation. I plan on reading this again. This time I will turn to the new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. They have produced many great translations of Tolstoy, Gogol, Chekhov, and Dostoevsky. Turn to any of these translations instead. I think this particular edition should be of concern ONLY for those who are interested in the history of the production of the text. And no one else.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars War and Peacefulness 12 Nov 2007
By Frank 7SFG - Published on
I have read WAR AND PEACE in Russian, have read three translations into English, and am reading a fourth, the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation, which promises to be the best. When I came across the "original" version and started reading it I was amazed, then appalled, then bemused. It was as though Tolstoi had written a version for children, or as though he was practicing for writing the real thing, which is actually closest to the truth. Once I realized that it was a first draft, and incomplete at that, I was able to take it for what it is: an interesting look at the beginning of the creative process for a great writer, and a historically interesting draft. For those who find this interesting-- scholars, students, etc.-- this is a valuable book. For most other readers, probably not. No one should make the mistake of thinking this is anything like WAR AND PEACE as we know it today. For one thing, it lacks the two epilogues that explain Tolstoi's views of history and causation.

The only actual resemblance between the two versions is the title, the names of the characters, and the very general story line. I can't judge the translation because I haven't read this draft in Russian, but for those who want to read the finished product I would recommend either the Aylmer-Maude translation or the one by Pevear and Volokhonsky. Tolstoi approved the former, and Pevear and Volokhonsky have translated so many works by the great Russian writers-- Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and so on-- that their outstanding reputation as translators is well established; and well deserved. Do yourself a favor and read WAR AND PEACE in one of these two translations and you may find that it opens a new world for you, one that can be life-changing!
45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is NOT Tolstoy's War and Peace 2 Nov 2007
By akatolstoy - Published on
If you buy this edition, you are buying what was essentially Tolstoy's first complete draft of the novel. It is so completely different from the standard edition that if someone who had read the Bromfield translation struck up a conversation with someone who had read ANY other translation (the Garnett, Dunnigan, Briggs, or the new Pevear and Volokhonsky), they would quickly discover that they were talking about completely different texts. The two editions differ in plot, characterization, theme, and resolution. I would not have a problem with this edition if it had been marketed honestly as a first draft, but by calling this edition "the original" is disrespectful to Tolstoy and to the greatness of scope and vision of the text in its final form.

Let me put it another way: if you turned in a paper to be graded by a professor, would you want her to grade and comment on your rough draft or on the final draft that you revised and polished? Doesn't Tolstoy deserve the same?
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why this version of War and Peace rocks 12 Feb 2008
By Andy K - Published on
I have tried War and Peace several times since I was a teenager, and each time I have enjoyed it UNTIL I get to the same bit. This is the bit where Tolstoy decides it's time to give us all a little lecture (say, a mere hundred and fifty pages) on his theory of history.

I think this is in an inexcusable flaw in a story, book, or epic. Worst of all, it makes poor Leo Nicholayevich into precisely the pretentious git which he didn't want to be remembered as.

Because of the pretentious and boring quality of the classic War and Peace, I quit reading this book. But I felt like I had failed when I was a teenager. Now I am a mature adult and I know better: Tolstoy was being a pretentious bore.

What we English readers didn't know then is that there are other versions of Tolstoy's novel. One, it would seem, written while he was still part of everyday society, and one written after he gave up in disgust on society. And the version which has reached the Anglosphere is the latter version, infected with his disgust at society.

Tolstoy considered titling the earlier version "All's Well That Ends Well". It was his first full draft. This version has a number of improvements over the classic or canonical version. It is half the length. It has not of the pretentious digressions into essay-lectures. And it has more of the peace and less of the war. In addition, when I recently learned that the earlier version doesn't have the extreme pessimism in it, I leapt up to buy a copy.

It's really fresh and engaging, with little of the heaviness of the latter version.

Tolstoy being one of the most gifted naturalistic observers of all time and a keen vitalist also had a significant shadow side: you can also view him as a really fake guy (he saw himself that way sometimes), and reading him could be exhausting and delibitating.

If you want to read Tolstoy really shining, with less of the parched earth negativism and pessimism of the later man, then this is a fantastic read. If you are new to Tolstoy and have read Jane Austen or Thackaray, then here is your perfect entry-point into Russian literature. The text preserves the jagged edges, the pleasureable style, and the smooth dialog of the original. The story moves faster than the classic version, and the breaks between scenes are sudden and unexpectedly pleasurable. It is much more the modern work than the classic version in this sense.

I love it, and I think many other readers will love it too. I suspect the purist readers who have given this negative amazon reviews may mostly not have read this version, or perhaps they simply are snobs. This delightful book is a great read and free of all the greatest faults that mar the better known version of War and Peace.
24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars First and worst draft translated 22 Oct 2007
By OccamsRazor - Published on
Do not read this version if you've never read War and Peace.

This translation is based on an early and flawed draft of the novel!
Why flawed? Lev Nikolayevitch decided it was.

Spoiler alert: This version has a happy ending!!! Both Knyaz Bolkonsky AND Petya survive. No wonder Tolstoy changed it!

To add an insult to injury, text was abridged, to increase sales no doubt. "Less pages, more sales" is a model more suitable to cookbooks, not serious literature.

The only thing missing-- the insert for the book club membership.

All-in-all, a serious miscalculation, despite the masterful translation by Bromfield, noted Pelevin translator.

Great for academic study for non-Russian speakers. Everyone else: avoid at all cost.

Next year from the same publishers:

"Anna Karenina: Happy Babushka Years, "Crime and Rehabilitation" and "Twelve Chairs: IKEA sale."
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