You can go on reading books after books for fifteen days or you can read Tolstoy’s undoubtedly masterpiece: War and Peace. How was it, you ask? Easier than I expected. Choosing the right translation plays a major role when you are reading books written in languages you are not familiar of. We will talk about that more, later.
Saying that I haven’t read Tolstoy before will be an understatement since I remember my failed attempts with Anna Karenina, twice I think. The Confession is a petite novella and is lying on my shelf just like that for months. Not a single attempt-to-read yet. War and Peace is humongous. Lots of characters introduced in first few chapters will seek you attention. Don’t start this book before going to bed. Especially before going to bed when you are starting to read it. The characters introduced in those first few chapters may help you doze off to sweeter dreams, thus you might end up loosing any interest that was the result of earlier motivation.
With lots of characters comes a lot more story lines. Tolstoy does a fantastic job in describing those story lines along with timeline of historical events, recounting them deeply and the blending of the fictional characters along with the historical ones. In short I can say, War and Peace is about five families during Napoleonic War in Russia. But that doesn’t satisfy me at all. It is about a lot more than that. It explores of human emotions during various circumstances including, war, patriotism, money, love, marriage, betrayal, forgiveness, gossip, et cetera.
The book is divided into five volumes. First one starts in 1805 when Russia is at war with Napoleon Bonaparte’s France. Tolstoy introduces his list of characters at an evening gathering held by a socialite. This party introduces us to many of the characters such as Pierre Bezukhov, and Prince Andrei are major ones. The major part of the story is either played in St. Petersburg or in Moscow. Rest are shown in various fields and outposts where the French and the Russian army are getting net to neck. Tolstoy makes the reader familiar by indulging some of the major characters in war at this time. The war is interesting if Tolstoy is describing it to us. At some point in the book Tolstoy arguably defies historians and the events described by them. He certainly disliked their way of forging with historical events. He also denies the fallacy that history is a production by some great men, instead suggesting it is the result of minute moments and decisions made by a large number of men and women. Many of the events described by him are graphic and you will end up visualising them in front of your eyes just as you see reality merely by reading Tolstoy’s words. Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy”