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War and Peace

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Hailed as one of the greatest novels of all time and a classic of world literature, War and Peace unfolds in the early nineteenth century during the turbulent years of the Napoleonic invasion of Russia. Tolstoy's epic ranges from stirring depictions of historical events to intimate portraits of family life, moving between public spectacles and private lives to offer a tale of both panoramic scope and closely observed detail.
From the breathless excitement of 16-year-old Natasha Rostov's first ball, to Prince Andrei Bolkonsky's epiphany on the battlefield at Austerlitz, the novel abounds in memorable incidents, particularly those involving Pierre Bezukhov. A seeker after moral and spiritual truths, Pierre and his search for life's deeper meaning stand at the heart of this monumental book. A tale of strivers in a world fraught with conflict, social and political change, and spiritual confusion, Tolstoy's magnificent work continues to entertain, enlighten, and inspire readers around the world.

ISBN-13: 9780486816432

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Dover Publications

Publication Date: 09-13-2017

Pages: 1152

Product Dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.60(d)

Series: Dover Thrift Editions: Classic Novels

Born into the Russian aristocracy, Count Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) achieved fame as a novelist, essayist, dramatist, and philosopher. His sprawling portraits of 19th-century Russian life, as recounted in Anna Karenina and War and Peace, constitute his best-known works. The spiritual awakening that Tolstoy experienced in the 1870s led to a fervent embrace of Christ's teachings, and his writings on the doctrine of nonviolent resistance influenced countless readers, including Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read an Excerpt

WELL, PRINCE, Genoa and Lucca are now no more than private estates of the Bonaparte family. No, I warn you, that if you do not tell me we are at war, if you again allow yourself to palliate all the infamies and atrocities of this Antichrist (upon my word, I believe he is), I don’t know you in future, you are no longer my friend, no longer my faithful slave, as you say. There, how do you do, how do you do? I see I’m scaring you, sit down and talk to me.”
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "War and Peace"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Leo Tolstoy.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

1. 1. In an article, “Some Words About War and Peace,” Tolstoy writes: “What is War and Peace? It is not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less an historical chronicle. War and Peace is what the author wished and was able to express in the form in which it is expressed.” He goes on to discuss how many precedents for this “disregard of conventional form” there are in the history of Russian literature. How do you respond to this characterization of the novel? Does it help you understand its scope, structure, or style?

2. 2. Relatedly, while some novelists have bemoaned what they considered to be the formless nature of War and Peace, Henry James called it “a wonderful mass of life.” How did the novel’s length affect your reading experience? Does its scale mirror its comprehensive outlook? Does Tolstoy’s ambitious vision succeed, in your opinion?

3. 3. Tolstoy also writes, with regard to the “character of the period” he was trying to depict, that it “had its own characteristics . . . which resulted from the pre-dominant alienation of the upper class from other classes, from the religious philosophy of the time, from peculiarities of education . . . and so forth.” What do you make of Tolstoy’s treatment of the themes of aristocracy and class, religion, and education in this work?

4. 4. Discuss the eventual marriage of Natasha Rostova and Pierre Bezukhov. How does their alliance speak to larger principles, if at all? How does the concept of family relate to the theme of war? Are Natasha and Pierre representative of Russian social life at the time? Why or why not?

5. 5. Regarding “the divergence between my description of historical events and that given by the historians,” Tolstoy draws interesting distinctions between the artist and the historian: “As an historian would be wrong if he tried to present an historical person in his entirety . . . so the artist would fail to perform his task were he to represent the person always in his historic significance. . . . For an historian considering the achievement of a certain aim, there are heroes; for the artist treating of man’s relation to all sides of life, there cannot and should not be heroes, but there should be men. . . . The historian has to deal with the results of an event, the artist with the fact of the event.” Discuss Tolstoy’s concern with history, and the place he accords to the individual in the historical process.

6. 6. What is Tolstoy’s verdict on Napoleon? How does this novel treat the idea of the historical “great man”?

7. 7. Tolstoy’s focus on five upper-class families contrasted sharply with the struggles of the nation during the Napoleonic war. And yet, many see the novel as a celebration of the Russian spirit. How do you perceive Tolstoy’s emphasis on the aristocratic? How does the Revolution affect Russian class structure, if at all?

8. 8. A contemporary critic, N. N. Strakhov, said, “What is the meaning of War and Peace? The meaning is expressed in these words of the author more clearly than anywhere else: ‘There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, and truth.’ ” Is this statement as simple as it sounds? Discuss.




From the Trade Paperback edition.

Table of Contents

Belief in the Soul;
The Night Side of Nature;
Living Apparitions;
Talking to the Dead;
The Uninvited Possession;
Haunted Houses;
Highways to Hell;
Spooky Sites;
Ghost Hunters