Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
War and Peace Hardcover – January 19, 2006
Discover collectible copies of the books you love
Explore rare and antiquarian books from independent booksellers around the world. Learn more on AbeBooks.com.
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Publishers Weekly
British scholar Briggs unveils his lucid new translation of Tolstoy's masterpiece-the first in almost 40 years-to a slightly anxious audience, from first-timers who, balking at the amount of time required by this massive yet startlingly intricate work, want to ensure they are reading the best translation available, to purists who worry that clunky modern prose will replace the cadences of earlier translations. But these concerns melt away after the first 100 pages of this volume. Briggs's descriptions are crisper and the dialogue is sharper, with fewer "shall's," "shan't's" and "I say!'s" than the Garnett, Maude, or Edmonds translations, leaving readers free to enjoy the rich and complex plot, vivid characters and profound insights into war and the nature of power. There are some awkward spots: Briggs claims his earthy rendering of soldierly banter is more realistic than earlier, genteel translators', but it reads distractingly stagy: "Give 'im a right thumpin', we did." It's also a shame to have lost Tolstoy's use of French, not only in the mouths of his characters, but also in the essays, as when he plays with Napoleon's famous "sublime to the ridiculous" quote. Briggs will face competition next year when Pevear and Volokhonsky release their new translation, but for now, this is the most readable translation on the market.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Anthony Briggs has written, translated, or edited twenty books in the fields of Russian and English literature.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
If you are passionately interested in the philosphy of history but have never read it in truly masterful fiction, you must read this book. Or if you are just intrigued by the idea of a literary narrative which shines from the far away vista of the here and now, and deftly skims both the river of time and the surface of unspoken conscious thought, without dallying into the murky depths of the subconcious, then you also must read it. It's greatest quality is how few if any passages are less than perfectly written so as to create a clear and delicate feeling within the reader, with grace and precision. It does not have as much profundity within the story as I had thought it might, and Tolstoy had to leave the narrative in order to make any major point about the nature of human knowledge and behavior (which he does in several asides which amount to essays on the flaws of history.) But this is not really a problem as long as you don't expect the book to probe deeper and deeper into human nature by way of storytelling, since within the story proper, it stays at the same level of human thought on page 10 as it does 1,200, except through those essays. And knowing this, you may get even more out of reading it than did I.
The Briggs translation is a fairly easy read, though clearly it's written for the U.K. market (the use of slang is not like anything I've heard here in the USA) and the copy I bought contained a major typo in the first chapter summary, and several minor ones in the latter part of the book. This is only a problem if you paid $25 for the book like I did, and tend to feel ripped off by such careless mistakes with such a carefully crafted work of art.
I have great respect for Pevear and Volokhonsky's rigorously faithful approach to Dostoevsky's nervous style of writing. But I didn't want a literal translation of this literary behemoth with all French passages intact. It seemed like overkill, so I ordered the Viking edition of Briggs' translation. I already have the P+V edition of Tolstoy's short stories and Anna Karenina, so, keeping in mind what I know of their treatment of Tolstoy, and having compared their War and Peace on Kindle, I'd recommend first time readers to go with Briggs over the P+V version.
First off, be suspicious of those who claim P+V's translations of everything will be superior to any other translator ever. That's simply not true - it's just marketing hype obscuring the reality behind their success. The reality is that, when given the choice, P+V choose a mimicking of the Russian syntax and slightly more stilted, though accurate, word choice to fit the meaning in Russian. It makes every novel they translate sound different, and in many cases, more "faithful." As I said, it's a huge advantage to their work on Dostoevsky.
This sets them apart from most other translators, but it's entirely a matter of taste as to whether it's a more worthy or authentic method of translation, because all P+V translations just take the English a few steps further toward Russian. Anthony Briggs instead prefers to stay rooted in sentences that sound completely authentic in English. Having made it 115 pages in to the end of Part 1 Volume 1 over the course of two days, I can say that it's been a completely comfortable read, more so than any P+V translation I've read, which typically take me a bit longer as I think over why they made the word choices they did. The overall story as translated by Briggs is very clear, and it's easy to keep track of all the different and distinct characters. And as War and Peace is meant not as a regular novel or exercise in style, but as an overall view of history and humanity, missing the forest for the trees due to a translation that tries too hard would be missing Tolstoy's point completely. I'm afraid this would happen with P+V's translation if I switched over to it wholesale. It's very accurate, and reads a bit unnaturally as a result. Briggs' sentences flow like Tolstoy just wrote it yesterday.
Keep in mind that the Viking hardcover's binding is not sewn (as every Everyman book is) but glued, which requires a bit more effort to keep open and is probably less durable in the long run. But besides this minor flaw, the white cover design is beautifully minimalistic, and the print and pages are just fine and easy to read.
In the end, for the average Russian literature enthusiast, reading Pevear and Volokhonsky's doggedly academic and faithful version the first time around is like trying to do a no-oxygen-tank hike up Mt. Everest your first time up - it's not necessary and you probably won't make it the whole way. So save their edition for your second pass, when you're familiar with the story and you want a more challenging, faithful interpretation. If you're a first time reader, get Anthony Briggs' edition, breathe easy, and you'll be happy you did when you reach the top.
Update 11/23/2013: just finished War and Peace after many months, and it was every bit worth the hype. Everything I already wrote does hold true from start to finish.