Perhaps literature’s greatest epic, War and Peace tells an astonishingly ambitious, profoundly personal, and vastly extensive story of Russia in the age of Napoleon. A work of historical fiction that is at times a romance and at times an adventure, Leo Tolstoy’s novel is, simply put, too big to fit into any literary genre. It features a cast of hundreds, yet paints intimate portraits of their intersecting lives as they move between prosperity and despair. The actions shifts back and forth between Moscow, the city of the people, and the decadent St. Petersburg; and shifts from royal ballrooms to brutal battlefields. Few writers have ever attempted to create a work so massive in scope and complex in themes, and none have succeeded quite the way Tolstoy has.
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Very good book for people who enjoy to read.
War and Peace
Okay, take your time, relax and enjoy being drawn into this wonderful Russian world. It is Tolstoy's view of life, covering his philosophy of war, family life, his guilt trips as he revisits through his characters his behaviour as a young man. By the time you come to the end you may well feel bereft and sorry to have lost that world.
In my top 5 books alongside: Jane Eyre; David Copperfield; Don Quixote & The Assassin’s Trilogy
War and peace is a monumental piece of literature. It has elements of history, philosophy and romance all woven together into an astonishing narrative that gives voice to every perspective of life. It puts forward very honest appraisals of society and examines the differing motivations and instincts at the heart of human nature, both base and spiritual.
The complexity of its observations about various subjects and emotions never loses impetus, and yet the style of prose is nevertheless very lucid. I can always sense a beating pulse whenever I read its passages: the blood and soul of life along with its vicissitudes of elation, ecstasy and travail. This is a book whose boundaries are only as confined as the imagination you dare to wield when reading it; no other book has left such an indelible print on the mind as this has to mine.
It seems the narrator always invites you to look beyond the curtains of assumed reality, to look deeper and to entertain a more encompassing viewpoint of the world that appreciates the totality of the world’s design, and yet it does so in a humble way, without any artifice or sophistry. ‘Look into yourself’ the voice of the book tacitly implies, learn to draw your own conclusions about the principles of life that are important to you, and be ever ready to give a proper account of what your life means to you.
The events and characters that feature in this grand stage are so varied, intentionally so by the author, for he uses contrast all the time as a literary device. By comparing different events and people, the tone of the story takes on the character of a slideshow; the chapters are relatively short and no one scene is every fully captured before moving to another. Although it might feel disjointed at first, you then become aware that things are happening simultaneously and you get a sense that life tends to meander, twist and turn, or follows unexpected detours, and yet tends to return back on itself to where it began, only to repeat again.
The best trait of the book is how it secretly self deprecates itself: it might seem that it teaches spiritual endeavours trump all temporal worldly gains, or wisdom over folly, but in fact these impressions are sometimes overshadowed by more nihilistic undertones in which the senselessness of war and the duplicity of human beings is evident. I felt both appalled and exasperated at some of the characters, uplifted by the spiritual discourses, and challenged by what the narrator mentions with how control in war is oftentimes an illusion, and the course of historical events have a multiplicity of contingencies that make it impossible to understand from any one person or viewpoint. The harder we try to look for meaning or ascribe purpose to ourselves, the more ephemeral the ground feels underneath us, which is ready to sink and shift at any moment, undermining our edifice of knowledge or pride.
My favourite characters are Pierre and Andrew, and I’ll have to admit that this review is biased in favour of them because they characterise a majority of the themes I’ve expressed in this synopsis - you’ll have to read it yourself to decide whether you agree with me or not, and why wouldn’t you want to read a book as accomplished as this?