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War and Peace Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 16, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 1,007 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Shimmering....[it] offers an opportunity to see this great classic afresh, to approach it not as a monument but rather as a deeply touching story about our contradictory human hearts.” —Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World

“Excellent....an extraordinary achievement....wonderfully fresh and readable....The English-speaking world is indebted to these two magnificent translators for revealing more of its hidden riches than any who have tried to translated the book before.” —Orlando Figes, New York Review of Books

“Stunning....Pevear and Volokhonsky have mastered Tolstoy's shorter lines, his elliptical impressions.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Reading the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation, it is the artistry that leaps out, even on the first page.” —Wall Street Journal

“A major new translation . . . [which] brings us the palpability [of Tolstoy’ s characters] as perhaps never before. . . . Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky’ s new translation gives us new access to the spirit and order of the book.” —James Wood, The New Yorker

About the Author

Count Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) was born in central Russia. After serving in the Crimean War, he retired to his estate and devoted himself to writing, farming, and raising his large family. His novels and outspoken social polemics brought him world fame.
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1296 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (October 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307266931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307266934
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,007 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patrick W. Crabtree VINE VOICE on January 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"War and Peace," by Leo Tolstoy, © 2007,
translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
Alfred A. Knopf, publisher

This review is broken down into two segments, a Descriptive Summary and an Evaluative Summary. If you're already very familiar with the story of "War and Peace," you may wish to skip directly to the latter facet of my review which is essentially the critique of this particular volume.

DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY:

In 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Austria to expand his European empire. Russia, being an ally of Austria, stood with their brethren against the infamous Emperor. Napoleon prevailed and a treaty was ultimately signed at Tilsit. In 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia, again in an effort to expand his empire. The end result of this tragic war was that Napoleon's army of about 600,000 soldiers was reduced to roughly 60,000 men as the defamed Emperor raced from Moscow (which he had taken), back across the frozen Russian tundra in his carriage (leaving his troops behind to fend for themselves) for Paris. That encapsulizes the military aspect of this work.

But the more intricate story involves both the activities and the peccadillos of, primarily, three Russian families of nobility: The Rostovs, the Bolkonskys, and the Bezukovs. The continual thorn of "The Antichrist," Napoleon, really just provides the wallpaper for this story of romance, riches, desolation, love, jealousy, hatred, retribution, joy, naiivety, stupidity and so much more. Tolstoy has woven an incredibly intricate web that interconnects these noble families, the wars, and the common Russian people to a degree that would seem incomprehensible to achieve - but Tolstoy perseveres with superb clarity and great insight to the human psyche.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
New translations of War and Peace appear from time to time, each with its own virtues. Sometimes what one reader calls virtues, another finds to be deficiencies. The now-venerable Maude translation, in the splendid Norton Critical Edition, is sometimes majestic, always readable, and, most important, conveys to most minds the story Tolstoy told. The breathtaking, awe-inspiring power of Tolstoy's storytelling and his burning insights into the quandaries of the human condition are what is important about War and Peace. The Maudes' translation brings all this to life. Norton's editorial supplements help the newcomer to things Russian fight his/her way through the thicket of Russian names and mid-nineteenth-century literary mindset to get comfortable with Pierre, the Rostovs and the Bolkonskys. Once you get to know these unforgettable people, you are hooked for good.

I have read this book many times in Russian and in the Maudes' translation. I always end by thanking Tolstoy for writing the best novel of them all, and the Maudes for their tireless work in translating it for those not fortunate enough to read it in the original.
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Format: Paperback
I bought the Maude translation in a Wordsworth Classic edition-- 1000 pages of Very Small Letters. It took me a while to get up the nerve to try and read it. Although I have loved everything else by Tolstoy that I had read, this seemed like a bigger challenge. Furthermore, I was concerned because I have not done very well in the past with books that contain a large number of battle scenes. Somehow I do not have a very visual imagination, and it can get very tricky if I have to really picture the relative location of troops and characters.

I have to say that I spent far too much energy worrying. War and Peace is extremely readable and once I got over the initial "how many pages?" response, it actually flew by too quickly.

I generally hate it when a review of a book says that it has "something for everybody". But I guess that when a book is this long, you can actually make that claim without being ridiculous. This book is so many things-- a love story, a story about war, a comment on Russian society at the time of writing, an observation of social/class change, a meditation on politics, and (last but not least) an attempt to define this notion and nature of history. It is hard to imagine that any reader could fail to find something that moved him or her. I found that I enjoyed all of it, even the battle scenes, in more or less equal measure.

In short, do not be put off by the daunting size! It is deservedly called a classic, and a book that should be on every readers must-read list.

I liked the Maude translation, I have to say. I found it clear and very readable. I chose it because it was the translation that had been approved by Tolstoy during his lifetime. That at least made it seem to be a safe place to begin.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have tried to read different translations of War and Peace, including Garnett's and Edmonds'. One thing that has always annoyed me - especially with Garnett's translation - is the tendency to use Western or Roman Catholic terms whenever something related to Christianity is involved (Edmonds does not make this mistake). Instead of using the language of Orthodoxy, we often get "holy images," attended Mass," the Virgin Mary," etc, instead of "icon," "attended Liturgy," or "the Theotokos." While invisible to most readers, to Orthodox ears it is grating. The Pevears get this right by avoiding Western terminology in speaking about things religious. And, as other reviewers have noted, it is nice to see the French broken out. As far as the quality of the language, it doesn't seem any less awkward than other translations I have read. Garnett may have turned a phrase with a bit more flare but at the expense of making Tolstoy sound like Tolstoy and more like a Victorian. I agree, too, that this version would have been nice had it been published as a three volume set. You can't really tote it around to read at work or on the bus.
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