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War and Peace (Vintage Classics) [Paperback]

Leo Tolstoy , Richard Pevear , Larissa Volokhonsky
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Aug 2009 Vintage Classics


Tolstoy's enthralling epic depicts Russia's war with Napoleon and its effects on the lives of those caught up in the conflict. He creates some of the most vital and involving characters in literature as he follows the rise and fall of families in St Petersburg and Moscow who are linked by their personal and political relationships. His heroes are the thoughtful yet impulsive Pierre Bezukhov, his ambitious friend, Prince Andrei, and the woman who becomes indispensable to both of them, the enchanting Natasha Rostov.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1296 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (6 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099512246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099512240
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description


"If you've never read it, now is the moment. This translation will show that you don't read War and Peace, you live it" (The Times)

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

"This is, at last, a translation of War and Peace without the dreadful misunderstandings and "improvements" that plague all other translations of the novel into English. Pevear and Volokhonsky's supple and compelling translation is the closest that an English reader without Russian can get to Tolstoy's masterwork. This is a great achievement. It is hard to imagine how this translation could be superseded."" (Vladimir E. Alexandrov, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures,)

"It may sound pretentious, or strange, but I can remember the weeks (three weeks, to be precise) I spent reading War and Peace as a peak experience of sustained excitement and deep delight. Part of the delight was the largeness and strangeness of this world - the sense of the vastness and extremes of Russia, the unboundedness of everything" (Finacial Times)

"It is simply the greatest novel ever written. All human life is in it. If I were told there was time to read only a single book, this would be it" (Andrew Marr)


`reveals Tolstoy in his majestic scope and precision to this reader for the first time...ringing with mastery and truth'
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling 8 Mar 2008
Having not read War and Peace before, and being fluent in neither Russian nor French, I am not qualified to compare and contrast this translation with other translations. But coming to this great novel for the first time I found this version to be an immensely readable book and it was with great sadness that I finished it. While others might concentrate on the pros and cons of this version against others, for those who have never read War and Peace before it is the story itself that is so fantastic. I was completely transported to Napoleonic times.

One comment on the translation itself though - in many places I found it mellifluous. 'Kapli kapali. Shyol tikhii govor. Loshadi zarzhali i podralis. Khrapel kto-to.' - 'Drops dripped. Quiet talk went on. Horses neighed and scuffed. Someone snored.' Fantastic.

And as others have noted the hardback is a wonderfully tactile object. Well done Clays and thank you Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Savour the masterpiece drop by drop 9 Jan 2008
This is the novel of all novels but it is not an easy read. Unlike an other reviewer, I find this translation to be excellent. The French text is translated in footnotes on every page and you soon get used to this approach. (It gives the historical flavour of how the aristocracy at the time spoke French with varying degrees of fluency.) We are all so used to instantly consumable fiction that we must retrain ourselves as readers to digest this monumental novel in bitesize pieces. Both the Notes and the Historical Index are a useful addition. I am sure that other translations are also admirable but you cannot go wrong with this.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful translation - and a beautiful object 11 Jan 2008
Don't listen Dr. Clifford - this is a wonderful translation, faithful and fluent. I don't know the Briggs (whose translation is incidentally not exactly 'new'), but the Pevear is quite fabulous.

In criticising repetition, Dr Clifford has entirely missed the point that the repetitions are Tolstoy's, and quite deliberate. It is previous translators who have sought to 'improve' on the original by adding their own variations. Clifford makes the same old error. Pevear does not.

I am afraid I find Dr Clfford's claim that Pevear's English is poor incomprehensible, as if said of a different translation altogether. This is a wonderfully accessible translation of a nineteenth century novel, which also manages to feel true to its period and to avoid anacronisms.

The use of French in the text is also true to the original. In his own editions/revisions, this is how Tolstoy started and what he came back to. Pevear includes full translations in footnotes (of a perfectly legible size). Nor, incidentally, is the French especially taxing. Why is the French there ? Because that's how Russians of a certain milieu spoke (and, some would say, thought and dreamed) in the Napoleonic era. Why has Pevear not removed it ? Why on earth would he want to ?

But don't take my word for it; read Orlando Figes online on the Pevear translation in the New York Review of Books - the same Orlando Figes who wrote the foreword to the Briggs edition.

Finally - the Pevear is still in hardback, and is a fittingly beautiful and pleasing object in its own right.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Translation in a Pleasing Binding 20 Jan 2008
This is the third translation I have read - the Rosemary Edmonds and the Briggs translations being the previous two - and it is clearly the best. You are captured from the start by the crystalline clarity of the prose and Pevear's annotations are helpful and inobtrusive. Ignore Doctor Rollo!
I would also make similar point to the previous reviewer - the hardback book is a lovely object to look at and hold. If you're going to have something in your hands for a couple of months, better to make it something that is good looking!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pevear and Volokhonsky 14 April 2009
First of all, the book itself. This is a nicely-bound hardback, with very clear black type on pure white paper - the clarity of the type and the whiteness of the paper both being important considerations when there are twelve hundred pages to get through! The biographical notes, chapter summaries and footnotes at the back are informative and accessible.

Now, the translation. I don't read Russian, so I can only judge it by how well it reads in English rather than by the degree of its fidelity to the original, so let's be clear: ninety-nine percent of this book is a joy to read. However, if you're prone to writing marginalia, this book will have you reaching for the pencil on quite a few occasions. I'm not talking about Americanisms (such as "fall" for "autumn") which are fine by me, but the doubtful choice of words here and there. For instance, when Rostov confronts a wolf close by some trees, we find:

> ...the wolf shook himself and made a move towards the timber which would save him.

Wood, trees, copse and forest all make sense in this context; "timber" does not. It sounds like the wolf has spotted a pile of firewood.

> "Ah, you cursed floor-scrubbers! Clean, fresh, as if from a promenade, not like us sinful army folk," Rostov said.

Other translations have "dandies" instead of "floor-scrubbers", which makes a lot more sense. Another page has Boris piling his checkers in a pyramid, but after he has knocked them to the floor, they have become "chessmen".

Pevear and Volokhonsky sometimes get their clauses in a muddle and the results are unclear:

> "One moment, one moment, don't come in, papa!" she cried to her father, who had opened the door, still under the gauze of her skirt, which covered her whole face.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Be wary of Amazon Warehouse hardback copy for 13.40
I ordered a copy used from Amazon Warehouse but sent it back. The cover had food stains. The price of £13. Read more
Published 1 month ago by BurrenShopper
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful books
Wonderful books
These books really are a wonderful read. Huge fan of Kindle books. Best every day enjoyment since sliced bread !
Published 2 months ago by ann valerie shephered
1.0 out of 5 stars No good for Kindle
The french translations are in the footnotes which take numerous clicks to access on my Kindle and then numerous more clicks to get back to the text. Read more
Published 4 months ago by A Hallas
4.0 out of 5 stars Promt delivery.
A very long story. Its a classic. The translations of the French shattered my schoolboy French. cleverly conveyed the meanings.
without translating literally word by word. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sapper
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful translation in a durable, user-friendly format on quality...
I read this volume in parallel with the Russian original and loved Pevear and Volokhonsky's translation so much I often preferred it to the Russian! Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ian Mac Eochagáin
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern translation
I started reading W&P in the free version translated by the Maudes. However, I got irritated by the anglicised style and by referring to Prince Andrei as Prince Andrew. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Oscarisapc
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb translation.
I'm always surprised by how good Pevear and Volokhonsky's translations are. This is a superb effort applied to an already superb text.
Published 10 months ago by Mr M R Pursell
5.0 out of 5 stars xx
Turned up fast, looks like the picture, could i ask for more from a product that does this no, very happy.
Published 15 months ago by Shazlet
4.0 out of 5 stars Great looking book, but some printing errors!
This version of War & Peace has a very attractive cover and great feel, but there seems to be a number of very strange printing errors beginning on Part II. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr. C. Barrett
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
What can I say, it's a timeless classic which I've enjoyed reading again. Much easier to carry around on my Kindle too!
Published 19 months ago by Highland Fling
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