Wednesday, October 27, 2010

War and Peace

War and PeaceWar and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
Evan’s ESS = 7 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = PG (Violence, Adult Concepts, Multiple Character Overload)  

Why: This may be difficult a difficult pill to swallow, but at some time or another you need to embrace War and Peace. 

Uncomfortable Silence…..

Sooooooo? Are we still friends?

Tolstoy is considered one of the greatest writers of all time and certainly the most famous Russian novelist, though Dostoyevsky is nothing to sneeze at.  We’ll offer you a couple ways you can attack this, but whatever road you take this novel is long.  In fact, depending on the translation, War and Peace is well over 1,400 pages.  If you want to dive right in and experience the Napoleonic Wars in painstaking detail, we recommend the Richard Peaver and Larissa Volokhonsky translation, which is excellent. 

For those of you that don’t have the time or the patience we recommend the abridged “original” translation which is based on some of Tolstoy’s earliest drafts.  The purists will probably have our necks for saying this, but don’t feel guilty about reading the “original” version, which contains “less of the war, more of the peace”.  What this actually means for the reader is a more interesting storyline and less philosophical conjecture. 

Actually, we didn’t think that War and Peace was as difficult to navigate as some critics might have you believe.  Despite having 500 plus characters, (not an overstatement) the plot is connected and readable.  You will receive a profound glimpse into the Napoleonic invasion of Russia and learn a good deal more about Napoleon Bonaparte than you can from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Not that Bill and Ted didn’t have an excellent adventure.  Wyld Stallyons Rule!).  As an added bonus, you’ll have plenty of fun trying to pronouncing all the Russian surnames. 

It’s also important to note that Tolstoy later rejected War and Peace along with his other major work, Anna Karenina, as not being “realistic”.  Still, you’ve got to respect someone whose house, currently a museum, contains roughly 22,000 books - can anyone say Bibliomaniac!  Now that we’ve said our piece, please don’t declare war in the comment section.

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