War and Peace is one of the greatest monuments in world literature. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, it examines the relationship between the individual and the relentless march of history. Here are the universal themes of love and hate, ambition and despair, youth and age, expressed with a swirling vitality which makes the book as accessible today as it was when it was first published in 1869.
In addition it is, famously, one of the longest books in Western literature and therefore a remarkable challenge for any reader. Neville Jason read the abridged version of War and Peace and proved his marathon powers with his outstanding performance of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. These make him the ideal narrator to essay Tolstoy's epic.
War and Peace was translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.
© and (P) Naxos Rights International
"War and Peace presents us with a complete picture of human life; a complete picture of the Russia of those days; a complete historic picture of the struggle of nations; and a complete picture of the things in which men set their happiness and greatness, their sorrow and their shame." (A.V. Knowles, Tolstoy: The Critical Heritage)
"There remains the greatest of all novelists - for what else can we call the author of War and Peace?" (Virginia Woolf)
I had already read War and Peace twice in the course of my life and had modest expectations of listening to it read for me. Neville Jason well surpassed those expectations. He reads the book splendidly and had me listening with great pleasure. I am grateful to him.
Neville Jason inhabits Tolstoy's characters - old and young women and men alike - such that throughout their evolution, joys and sorrows, they are all very much brought alive.
I laughed out loud many times and laughed yet again at how familiar character traits are.
Jason makes these come alive and brings out Tolstoy's themes regarding our human nature, as well as the natures of truth and history through his timing and pacing.
I am eager to hear additional work by Mr. Jason ... Proust, here I come.
I am very impressed with the narrator/reader. As others have commented, he manages to maintain a separate voice for dozens of characters. With a story this long and complex, it is a huge help for keeping track of who's who.
At first I found it odd that he tends to use British accents for the various characters, but as the story unfolds, it made perfect sense (in an odd way). For a English speaking audience, who can tell the difference between the accent of a Russian aristocrat or peasant? But, we can instantly understand the class of British character as soon as they start to speak. Add a slight cockney accent and we immediately know "this is a peasant character speaking"
Again, I thought it odd at first too, but came to love it. Very, very well done.
The story is good, though famously long. I have always loved reading, but I personally doubt I would have finished this if it were a book. This is a case of a story being infinitely better in audio, because of the superb skills of the reader.
this seemed daunting at first but it flew past. The characters are very strong and the reader makes them all come alive. He makes spoiled girl tantrums and stuffy society jokes surprisingly fun!
I know this is a classic book and I should be able to read it and like it, however, it does not hold my attention. Five stars for this narrator, though. He has the fantastic ability to differentiate the many characters, going back and forth between accents, genders, ages, speech impediments, and vocal tones seamlessly. It's truly amazing, but even he could not make this book interesting enough for me although I probably gave it more of a chance because of his talents.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
OK, it's long - really long. But there is a good reason why so many people over the years have considered "War and Peace" to be one of the greatest works of fiction ever.
I read it years ago, as an English major, and mostly was just glad to be able to say I'd made it through. But this time, through Audible, I have a clearer view of why it's so impressive, aside from the sheer length. Tolstoy is not just a story teller here; he's a brilliant historian, a sociologist and philosopher, and a point-on observer of the human mind and heart.
First time, I pretty much focused on the plot. Although there are nearly countless characters to try to keep track of, the lives, fortunes, and love adventures of the major ones make for a classic romance - and they are what most abridgements and movie versions of "War and Peace" have concentrated upon.
What really captured my attention in this listen and this time through, however, was the "War." I'm not much of a fan, generally, of battle accounts and the who-was-where-and-why of war stories, but Tolstoy here gives just a genius analysis of the emotions of men in battle and the futility of planning and strategy in what is actually all confusion. Listening to the story, the phrase "fog of war" takes on real meaning. Tolstoy brings the fortunes of war down to their most basic - who is most motivated to fight. The defeat and tragedy of Napoleon's troops is the "same old, same old" story: Generals can plan and plan all they want, but what really matters is the will of ordinary soldiers to defend what means most to them - their homes, families, and native country. Invaders in foreign lands are always at a severe disadvantage, and determined gorilla warfare in defense of the homeland is most likely to prevail.
How much death, pain and expense the world would have been spared since the Napoleonic era had more people read and taken the lessons of Tolstoy to heart!
Neville Jason is a wonderful narrator. This book is a wild ride and a full course study. Persevere, because you'll be a different person when you come out the other side of "War and Peace."
Excellent. Engaging, and Entrancing. The reader creates distinctive accents and vocal styles for each character, and makes it so that you need not even know whom the speaker is to identify the speaker. I have always wanted to read this book, and cannot recommend this enough.
When you ask someone if they had read "war and peace" they usually shudder at the thought of a tome that weighs more than a small child, however this audiobook makes such a large work highly enjoyable.
Impossible to categorize this huge work. A beautifully written historical novel of the Russian aristocracy, woven together with a carefully detailed examination of Napoleon's invasion of Russia, battle by battle, and lastly Tolstoy's theories on how and why these events occurred.
The scope of this book is stunning, the characters unforgettable. Although more approachable than I anticipated, the exhaustive historical detail and Tolstoy's emphatic philosophical discourses make this more than a little challenging.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, absolutely recommend it, and will probably revisit it sometime in the future. Right now, however, I'm ready for some mindless escapism!!
I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
First, Audible offers this novel as two books, which I did not realize when I purchased Volume 1. When I came to the end and realized the story was unfinished and I was out of credits, the representative was good enough to advance me a credit for Volume 2 so I could keep going. Don't make my mistake; purchase both at the same time.
Tolstoy opens a whole world to the readers, and once you enter, you find yourself inhabiting the country and the times, becoming a part of every social strata, and feeling affected by all aspects of Russian life. Living this masterpiece was a wondrous experience for me. The characters are so vivid, you care about what happens to them after you've read the last page.
I tell my clients that authors have three primary responsibilities: to inform, entertain, and evoke emotions from the readers. No one could do a better job of all three than Tolstoy in this amazing novel.
Very new to audio books, this only was my sixth. But, throughout my life, this novel has stood there as my unreachable goal, always calling to me as something so remarkable to those who had the interest and tolerance for reading, which I so woefully lacked.
It is done now; and, how sad and deprived I now feel with the loss of these characters who were so pervasive in my life during the past seven weeks. They never lived but even if they did, they would have died some 200 years ago. And yet I strongly felt their joys, misfortunes and their loss. Such is the power of the detail and care in which Tolstoy crafted their stories - in war and in peace. I am tempted to restart at the beginning but know that I should wait to revisit later.
Neville Jason's reading was masterful. I can only imagine his ability to maintain the characters as he did over such a lengthy recording process to be the result of great intimacy and caring for them and for the reader. The gradual and natural aging of their voices over the course of their lives was handled with great artistry.
Should you have the time and will to commit to this vast work over a period of time, it is worth the epic journey.
"An epic reading"
This is a superb reading. All too often with very long works read as audiobooks the monotonous, mechanical tone of the reader gives the impression that the words come out of the mouth without ever going anywhere near the mind. But Neville Jason proves to be an ideal reader for such a vast and varied novel. The narration is constantly sensitive to the tone and pace of Tolstoy's writing and he has an impressive skill in differentiating and giving a plausible voice to each of the many characters. Even readers who are very familiar with the text will find this reading illuminates scene after scene.
As for the novel itself recommendation is superfluous for anyone who has once read this marvellous book. I can think of very few other novels that leave the reader with so vivid a sense of lived experience and once read forever haunt the imagination. But if anyone has been deterred from undertaking such a lengthy work this excellent audiobook may well prove the ideal way to get to know one of the supreme(and most enjoyable) masterpieces of world literature.
This is a masterclass in how an audiobook should be read. If you have always promised yourself to read/re-read War & Peace and just haven't got round to it do yourself a favour and download this version, I think you can all imagine the
unremitting tedium of a boringly read W&P - this is anything but.
An astounding achievement. Neville Jason possesses a wealth of voices ranging from a coy 15-year-old girl to a crabby old man with many in between. This enables the listener to identify characters easily (and there are lots of them) and to follow what is a complex plot. I thought listening to this would be a substitute for reading but this is so well brought to life that I want to read it too. And rush off and learn Russian ...
"The most enjoyable piece of literature of all time"
I am a great lover of classics and have read many over the years, This is the most enjoyable piece of literature I have ever encountered.
As long as the narrator is good I find audio books to be a perfect compromise between wanting to read but having too much work to do. Neville Jason reads this book well. His pace is just right, not too fast and with exactly the right intonations for the respective characters. I feel that he puts the right feeling into each sentence and paragraph and as you listen you are not aware of the book being read, so much as feeling yourself melting into the world of War and Peace and feeling a part of it, notwithstanding the fact that this version is an unabridged version and not dramatised..All the better for it I say.
This book is such a well known classic, but I expect many people, myself included, might be put of by the length of the book as well as the complex and detailed battle scenes that are a continuous theme through out the book. The audio version, as narrated by Neville Jason, makes this work very accessible and extremely enjoyable. I am not usually a great lover of war books or films and understand nothing about battles etc. but this audio book awakened in me an interest and enjoyment in this aspect of the work, which I might not have been able to appreciate if I had read this book as written literature.
The combination and depiction of the characters is masterful and the story draws you in. Tolstoy brilliantly moves from battle field to drawing room and back to battle field, keeping the reader eager to discover the outcome of each drama as it unfolds. The reader may find themselves falling in love with more than one character, both romantically and intellectually, that is the magic of Tolstoy’s creations.
The reader will finish this book with a sense of satisfaction and pleasure that Tolstoy did get it right. A very cleaver man.
"Superbly read audiobook"
I've finished volume 1 of this set and am halfway through volume 2. I have to say this is fantastically read - the voices he uses seem to fit perfectly. How he's managed to keep the same pace and clarity throughout this epic is beyond me. This is only the 3rd audiobook I've listened to, but if I can find more of this quality, it won't be the last!
"Do not miss this book!"
W&P1 is my first audio book. I think after I have listened to W&P2 that it will all be downhill from then on. This book is one of the most compelling books ever! It's characters and structure are magnificent - there are scenes that made me excited, nervous, tearful and joyful! I wlll be bereft without my daily excerpt and I envy anyone who is yet to read this for the first time. Don't be put off by the length or any fear that lingers from its reputation. This a cultural highpoint for humanity and best of all - it is fantastic entertainment.
There are too many wonderful characters but I guess I tend towards the Bolkonsky family, old Nikolay, Andrei, Maria plus that eternal seeker and optimist, Pierre Bezuhov! They are all trying to find purpose in life in an uncomplaining and energetic way.
Neville Jason is a narrative genius! He has an incredible range of voices and brings characters and the book to vivid life. I think that after exepriencing his beautiful voice and his authorative voicing of the vast range of characters that anyone will be filled with admiration. I always think of Martin Jarvis as a narrative 'gold standard' but Neville is 'Martin Jarvis plus'.
The book does make you laugh in parts and experience joy. There are parts that are incredibly exciting cliff hangers, you fear for characters and you can also experience a range of perspectives on life from the very old to the very young. An example would be the cares of a parent for the wayward nature of a carefree young child - the parent sees the fearful potential and the child sees opportunity and challenge. Both views are valid and they contribute to the richness of this book.
I can only urge members to listen to this book - as others have said - it is unmissable!
"Not as daunting as you might think..."
Loving this more than "Anna Karenina". This is the first half of this epic novel, am waiting for a deal on the second part. Watched the mini series on Napoleon so have this in mind while reading, life was tough on those soldiers. Notwithstanding this, life in the cities (in this part anyway) continued as normal, looking forward to how these self absorbed characters are going to deal with what life will throw at them next...
This book is flowing well, not too many lectures from Tolstoy. Have a go, it is not as daunting a book as we are all lead to believe. The narrator does a good job of enhancing the meaning of the text. Any confusion with characters is solved with a little research on the internet, as are any historical questions you may have. The translation is a good one if you are used to the works of 19th century English authors.
I've never really had the courage to start reading War and Peace so I thought this would be a great way of tackling one of those 'must read before I die' books without causing irrecoverable harm to my writsts. I've survived both part one and part two so the plan worked ! And yes I'm confirmed in my opinion of myself as a lightweight as I found the amount of political exposition somewhat wearisome and I have to admit that the ffwd button got pressed a couple of times on particularly lengthy and repetitive tracts. Having said that there is a reason this book has survived in print for so long and its wealth of characters and bradth of perspective make this an absorbing listen / read. The narrator does a good job, only jarring occasionally on the most annoying of characters!
Whilst I'm not sure I have the mindset I can see why people read and reread the book many times and it's definitely worth a listen.
"A glorious narration of an epic"
Travel through history and society, through battlefields, through the minds, emotions and dreams of fellow humans: lovers, soldiers, princes, prisoners, even emperors? and with the fine, faithful and eloquent narration of Neville Jason, expect the best delivery of each and every scene, for that is precisely what is on offer.
"Not the voice of Tolstoy"
I do wish I could like this better. I've read and reread the novel, and will read it again. I agree that Neville Jason has a wealth of voices for the characters. But his detached, ironic, even effete narrator is just not the right voice for the robust, passionate, opinionated Tolstoy. I won't be getting the second half.
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