From Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the best-selling, award-winning translators of Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov, comes a brilliant, engaging, and eminently readable translation of Leo Tolstoy's master epic.
War and Peace centers broadly on Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three of the best-known characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count who is fighting for his inheritance and yearning for spiritual fulfillment; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who leaves behind his family to fight in the war against Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, the beautiful young daughter of a nobleman, who intrigues both men. As Napoleon's army invades, Tolstoy vividly follows characters from diverse backgrounds peasants and nobility, civilians and soldiers as they struggle with the problems unique to their era, their history, and their culture. And as the novel progresses, these characters transcend their specificity, becoming some of the most moving and human figures in world literature.
Pevear and Volokhonsky have brought us this classic novel in a translation remarkable for its fidelity to Tolstoy's style and cadence and for its energetic, accessible prose. With stunning grace and precision, this new version of War and Peace is set to become the definitive English edition.
We might as well face it at the outset -- War and Peace is a big book. In length, obviously: nearly 1,250 pages in this translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. That makes it heavy to lug around, and when I read it in bed it left a dent in my sternum. And it requires a big commitment: unless you took the same speed reading course Woody Allen did (he read it in 20 minutes and reported: "It involved Russia"), it takes a big chunk out of your life to read. It's big in ambition, too: there's Tolstoy's, of course -- it took him more than ten years to write, research, and rewrite -- but closer to home, there's yours, if this is a mission you choose to accept. Reading War and Peace -- or being seen to do so -- is a sign that you are a Serious-to-the-Verge-of-Pretentious Person. The few times when I was caught reading it in public I felt sheepish.