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War and Peace (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

Leo Tolstoy , Henry Claridge , Olga Claridge , Dr Keith Carabine , Louise Maude , Aylmer Maude
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Oct 2001 1853260622 978-1853260629
War and Peace is a vast epic centred on Napoleon's war with Russia. While it expresses Tolstoy's view that history is an inexorable process which man cannot influence, he peoples his great novel with a cast of over five hundred characters.

Three of these, the artless and delightful Natasha Rostov, the world-weary Prince Andrew Bolkonsky and the idealistic Pierre Bezukhov illustrate Tolstoy's philosophy in this novel of unquestioned mastery. This translation is one which received Tolstoy's approval.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions (5 Oct 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853260622
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853260629
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.2 x 5.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,846 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

About the Author

Leo Tolstoy (1828 -1910) is one of the major figures in world literature, and War and Peace is in contention to be considered the greatest novel ever written. But this is only one of his memorable works: Anna Karenina certainly equals it in popularity, and his shorter works, such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich are considered excellent.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is how is should be done........ 6 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book has been on my reading list for a long time, but for some reason I have avoided picking it up - Perhaps because of the size (I am against Kindles in principle), or perhaps because of the stigma attached to this mammoth classic, I just assumed it was going to be beyond my mental faculties and I was certain I was never going to be able to finish it.

I could not have been more wrong. It took me a month to read, it was never a chore to pick up and now that I have finished it, I miss it.

This book is many things - It is a study on how war affects life of men and women, it is a detailed analysis of the was tactics during the Napoleonic war with Russia, it is a family saga, a coming of age tale, a quest for the meaning of life, a romance, an ode to Russia and, above all, a 900-odd page tale of what makes us human.

Don't let the huge cast put you off, as the central cast is small enough, and the characters vivid enough to pose no problem in telling them apart. We have large, awkward, well-meaning lost soul Pierre, illegitimate and massively wealthy, and his devastating and unfaithful wife Helene. Then we have Prince Andrew; moody, elegant, intelligent, capable, vulnerable, a perfect masculine hero. His pious sister Princess Mary is one of the strongest female characters; She starts out plain, timid, terrorized by her father, resigned to her destiny as a spinster, but as we get to know her we see she has a heart of gold and incredible strength. Then we have the Rostovs, with the distre Count Ilya at the head of the family slowly driving them to financial ruin, the over-bearing and hysterical Countess and her children - Nicholas, Petya and not least, Natasha - Enchanting, innocent, impetuous, full of life and energy and vivacity.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the moaners 12 July 2004
By A Customer
Prompted to write this because of those strange remarks questioning the novel's quality. Don't be misled. This really is one of the greatest novels ever written. Not only does Tolstoy have a commanding grasp of his recent history, and of Napoleon's strategy, but he makes war believable from the highest to the lowest levels. But one of the main reasons it is so celebrated is in the way the characters develop. We see them grow and change, partly in response to events and experience, partly as part of simply growing up. The transformation of Andre through the book is so credibly depicted you have to keep reminding yourself this is fiction. Many things happen to him, and each twist and turn is totally convincing, and where he ends up after all this makes perfect sense. And the momentous historical events that go on are not a "backdrop", but completely interweaved in the narrative. Tolstoy was capable of pouring everything that he, a wise, observant and insightful man had seen in his life, into a book that (another "greatness" quality) had a huge historical sweep, a cast of understandable, very human characters, and profound understanding of war. Don't save it up for later.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book, Terrible Publisher! 4 Oct 2011
First of all I'd like to make 1 thing clear; WAR AND PEACE is absolutely fantastic. Wordsworth's publishing of it is not so fantastic.

If you buy Wordsworth's edition of this book be sure to find it riddled with spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes, capital letters in the middle of words and other obvious mistakes that the editors really should have picked up on.

Thankfully, it's quite a popular book so there are many publications out there.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deserves its acclaim 12 May 2001
War and peace is without doubt one of the best novels of all time, and though admittedly I began reading it just to say I had, it soon gripped me and took over a few weeks of my spare time. The history was new to me as was the country and period so that was very interesting, as was Tolstoy's unashamed cheek in attacking historians and opposing theories. The only let down was that it felt a little too prolix, especially as time went on. The second epilogue is the peak of that effect where a good fifty pages are taken to cover a topic Tolstoy spent most of the novel trying to prove. It is indeed a great shame that the excellence of the battle descriptions and family storylines, had to be diluted by Tolstoy's attempts to outwit and mock historians of his time. All in all, with enough effort this is a great novel, though I can't see myself picking it up again!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic masterpiece 14 Dec 2000
Undoubtedly the most moving book I have ever read. Tolstoy's incredibly detailed depiction of the plight of the refugees, the tragedies of deaths in the family and the unstoppable pursuit of love and happiness in the middle of all that carnage brought a tear to my eye. Some people complain about the depth into which the author goes in describing every character and would say that it is unnecessarily detailed. Not a bit of it! By the time I read this book I felt like I knew each character as a personal friend with whom I had grown up. Pierre Bezukhov is the character who most people could identify with as a bit of an outsider in the Russian courts. The interaction of him and the other characters with real people from history is very cleverly done, Forest Gump was not a new idea by any means.
As for the long passages on the inexorable process of history which man cannot influence, well if I were living in a feudal Europe which was governed by a small extended family of in-bred nobles whose family squabbles were settled by the slaughter of their citizens, then maybe I would think that history is uncontrollable too. These passages are not hard to spot and anyone with a bit of common sense can read between the lines and take them with a pinch of salt.
He may seem to approve of serfdom, but in those days democracy was a concept which hadn't quite taken root and most people (including Tolstoy) didn't know any different.
This is an exhilerating read for anyone who has what it takes to get right through it.
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