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)
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.
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.
First 100 pages difficult; excellent thereafter
Volume 2: all comments apply to both
Count Pierre Bezukhov's experiences as French prisoner for insights into the lives of common Russian soldiers
I started reading this book two times in the past 30 years and never got to page 100. Audible allowed me to complete the entire masterpiece, though the early pages of character introductions remained the least enjoyable part.
I will search for other narrations by Neville Jason.
Rye-and-Indian, baked daily.
This is my first reading of W&P; I just started the second volume. This Naxos/Jason production is near flawless: narration, fidelity, production quality. Jason may be the best narrator I have ever heard (fifty titles over two years), and this Maude translation has me plenty entertained. I can keep up with the book at 1.85x playback--it took me a little over three weeks to finish the first volume. I bought Oxford's paperback of the Maude translation (http://goo.gl/BW50SD) to thumb through at bedtime, which comes with battlefield maps (!) and pages (upon pages!) of historical footnotes--the book is easily worth the extra ten bucks to supplement your Audible experience.
I'll hold my thoughts about the story itself until I complete the entire novel. This book is stupid long, and I'm loving every minute of it. I can hardly wait to see what Volume 2 has in store.
The narrator does a decent job of making his voice vary from character to character and his pace is well suited for the book. I'm not a fan of buying two volumes instead of one, but it's definitely worth it.
My journey through War and Peace is over, and the 62 hours (Vol 1+2) was a worthwhile and rewarding journey. I won't add to what so many others have said about Tolstoy's brilliant work, but I did 2 extra things that added a great deal of understanding, depth and perspective:
First, the book is famous for having lots of characters and different story lines, so I listened to many of the chapters 2 or even 3 times. I was surprised at how many little things I didn't get the first time, so this added to the enjoyment (not to mention that I was afraid of getting lost). And the 62 hours ended up at around 100, for me at least. I loved them all.
Secondly, I did Internet searches and there is a lot of W&P background material that is helpful: I printed a list of characters, read the Wikipedia analysis of the book (there are many more) to give me a big overview of where things were going, read a little more about Napolean, and pulled up maps of the various Russian cities.
This paid big dividends in understanding the history and times. Tolstoy gave us a novel from the Russian perspective here, and not a history book, so he often assumes that we know things of Russia in the early 1800's. But we don't.
For example, the French army was starving, freezing, sick, depleted and in tatters well before they reached Moscow, but the we don't hear much of this until they are in full-scale retreat late in the book.
This informal research is fun during your read, when it's time to take a break. Like now.
A great thing about audiobooks is I find I'm able to get through lengthy classics I wouldn't have tackled otherwise. Neville Jason made it easy for me to love this novel, making characters so real that it felt like I was watching a movie. There's plenty of action. But what's more surprising is how fresh Tolstoy's observations on people and human nature--about politics, love, and the difficulty of living up to our own ideals--are today. His dry humor would be right at home on Letterman. Kudos also to the production team. Jason obviously doesn't read this all in one sitting, but I almost never noticed the transition between takes that has been a mild distraction in other audiobooks. Great job!
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
I read and reread this book and Neville Jason does an excellent job narrating this book. This is a classic worth reading and this narration worth the listen to. The last few chapters could be missed as Tolstoy puts his own bent on the forces of history, but if you are a student of history, you need to know this. Otherwise, this book is entertaining, surprising easy to read or listen to and a joy to have in your heart. Great stuff this.
"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!
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
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