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 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.
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!
The hardest thing about listening to War and Peace was keeping all the characters straight. I used Spark Notes, and also read along with the audio book. The ebook is readily available for free. I even kept notes at first as to who belonged to what family, which I referred to often. I did not follow all of the goings on of the war, but I got enough of it to understand its meaning as it relates to the story. It took me about half to two-thirds of the way through the story before I got totally sucked into it. There are about four stories going on at one time, and Tolstoy jumps from one to the other seemingly at will.
I came to care about, love or hate many of the characters, but it took a while. What I did come to love were the Russian people of the early 19th century as a whole. One of my favorite parts of the book occurs at the end of the first epilogue (who writes more than one epilogue???). Tolstoy writes a caricature of the Napoleonic Wars. It is so funny, and yet it puts the whole thing into great historical context, which at that point I really needed. I could have lived without the second epilogue. Although it is well written, and uses a great metaphor, it had absolutely nothing to do with the story.
As far as Tolstoy as a writer, I have to give him a ???5???. He is a fabulous writer, and I found myself listening to long philosophical musings just because I loved the sound of the prose. He is obviously incredibly intelligent, and a very deep thinker.
The narrator, Neville Jason, ranks up there with the best of the best. He is outstanding. I give him a ???5??? as well.
The story itself: From the stand point of keeping my interest, continuity and action, I give it a ???4???. From the standpoint of the quality of the writing, it has to be a ???5???. From the standpoint of what I learned from the story, or in other words, did it have an impact on my life? I would definitely have to give it a ???5??? as well. So averaging everything out, the book gets a ???5???.
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 always wanted to read this book, just to say I did. I thought I was in for a long haul, but the first half has flown by! The narrator is excellent. There are very many characters and it seems he has a distinctive voice for each! Don't get me wrong, there are boring parts and it IS confusing in the beginning to remember all the characters, but pay close attention at first and you will recall them as time goes on. I even took a break halfway through for another book. I actually was happy to return to this one! Very well narrated, I think it makes all the difference. (the Peace parts are more interesting than the War parts, mostly)
Amazing. So much detail into the thoughts, feelings, what is said, what is not said, intentions, interactions, expressions, body language; comming of age, dissapointments, growing, learning, virtue, vice, scheming, love, forgiveness, desire, so much more. This is a book about life. This is why I love the classics. An excellent narration as well. Perfect score.
War and Peace is certainly one of those books everyone should read/listen to … I first read it about 15 years ago and was duly impressed; but like all fine works of art - it get’s better with the second time thru. This particular Narrator (Neville Jason) is simply amazing! Do yourself the favor of listening to him read the story. You won’t regret it.
"for people with a lot of time on their hands"
Without wishing to state the obvious, you need a lot of time to listen to the story from beginning to end. There are lots of characters, lots of settings, lots of dramatic moments and a lot of historical references.
I had the time and enjoyed it very much. I'm not sure why it's such a celebrated novel. The story just goes on and on. There are also extended passages that border on the philosophical. I'm pretty sure I would never have had the patience to read this story in paper form.
A very pleasantly read story by Neville Jason: absolutely absorbing and enthralling listening!
I had read the book in the past and I loved it but this is one of those cases where the story gains a lot from the reading from an actor...
I would recommend it.
"A great book, beautifully read."
I seldom award five stars to anything - on the premise that there is always room for improvement - but I have broken my rule in the case of Neville Jason's reading of War and Peace.
This is a very long book but Jason never flags. He manages the female characters convincingly (not easy for a male reader without sounding ridiculous) and possesses a first class command of accents. I was especially impressed with his reading of the great set piece passages in the book: battles, the hunt etc.
Thoroughly recommended; I am now embarking on Volume Two.
"better with an an abridged version?"
This is a VERY long book.
One of the reasons for this is that large sections of the book deal with Tolstoy's version of Napoleon's invasion of Russia, his views on Napoleon (he does not like him at all), the Russian general and the forces of history - all quite interesting but not at such inordinate length - I gave up with two hours to go when I realised that the actual story had finished! In between, 'War and Peace' is a timeless story rightly famed and deserving of classic status (though my own view is that 'Anna Karenina' is a far better book).
I dont normally like let alone recommend abridged versions, but I think this case is an exception; the book without the historical interludes would be about half the length, and much of the narrative of the story itself could be trimmed without losing too much. So unless you are a particular lover of Tolstoy, I would opt for a shortened version.
The length is not helped by what I thought was a rather one-paced and dry narration, with little distinction drawn between the various characters.
"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.
"One of the great historical novels"
Moving, entertaining, enthralling.
It is impossible to choose a favourite character - their stories weave in and out of each other's with such skill. Each character is loveable and flawed, fully human as only Tolstoy can write them.
"War and Peace vol 1"
Absolutely compelling! Beautifully written, intelligently translated, nicely read. My first foray into War and Peace. Why did I wait 53 years?
"Very well read"
Beautifully narrated this wonderful story has had me captivated, I can't wait to listen to volume 2. I'll look out for books narrated by Neville Jason in future.
"A five star treat"
This is almost as wonderful as reading the book yourself. Knicks the socks off the BBC adaptation and although it seems a huge undertaking it is so beautifully read that the time whizzes by and one is swept along by Tolstoy' s descriptive prose. Treat yourself!
"What a way to experience War and Peace!"
Impossible made possible!
Ulysses, because of its daunting length for a slow reader.
For a partially dyslexic reader whose concentration fails and whose mind drifts off such a "slow" story with so many characters to sort out, this medium simply makes it possible for me to "read" a book I would be otherwise unable to do. I can listen to each section several times while walking or gardening, and Neville Jason brings the characters to life for me. Eventually the book becomes a whole, clearly-detailed canvas. The story is about Russian bourgeoisie, and, as I detest the inequality embodied in class systems - and think everyone else should do so too - if I could concentrate enough to read it myself I would no doubt "import" my own cynicism and distaste for the super-rich into my reading. I have only given 4 stars because, while the reading is perfect, I almost get the feeling that Jason admires and loves most of the characters, and has no sympathy for their minimally-presented servants where they occasionally interact.
But maybe he is trying to portray them as he supposes Tolstoy intended, and perhaps it should, in fact, be the listener's job to "process" his colourful interpretations in the way the listener wants to. Listening rather than reading does not, I don't think, inhibit this processing.
It has just become possible for me to "see" events involved in the 1812 invasion and "read" Tolstoy's famous novel from cover to cover! For that I am truly grateful.
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