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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
The many interesting characters and stories, the contrast in theme between their presence in vivid battlefield scenes and peacetime pursuits, their varied struggles with the great questions of life’s purpose, moral obligations to one’s fellow man, and the path to worldly happiness and spiritual peace all make this work both great and fascinating. With this book I feel I have expanded my circle of understanding to now include a number of 19th Century Russians who have shared their most intimate thoughts and feelings with me. They are described and presented in this book by a master literary craftsman who has portrayed them as real life characters, including all of their faults and foibles.
Tolstoy’s frequent background commentaries are part of the work. They are excellent and lend greater depth to the story. The narrator for this edition is also excellent. You will gain from this book not just an enriching personal experience, but a greater understanding of Russian history and sensibilities emerging from the great struggles against Napoleon. A major time commitment, but well worth your time.
Listening to this great story read so well has been a wonderful experience. I have read it, seen it and heard it in the radio, but it as fresh as ever in this reading.
The best audiobook narrator hands down. The story is magnificent, but Neville Jason brings the characters to life!
"Entertaining, amusing, enthralling, wanted more!"
The Narrator expertly delivered this for the entire story. He carries the mood and the characters amazingly. I was so sorry it had ended I stood upright in surprise. I have been totally immersed in another world.
"Worth the effort of listening"
I have read the book but found it rather long winded and dull. This is a much better method of enjoying what is a great saga! Looking forward to Volume 2!
"War and Peace"
After the recent TV adaptation I wanted to find out more. It was absolutely gripping.
War and Peace seems so daunting but this audio book made the whole experience much easier and incredibly enjoyable.
Good narrator and short chapters make it easy to dip in and out.
"War and Peace"
IMHAVE been awake all night as I couldn't turn off this book. Now I've finished Volume 1 I have to buy Volume 2 . I enjoyed every minute, beautifully read an absolute joy.Shirley-Ann Humphries
this version of.war and peace is wonderful and well worth the read. what makes it better is a wonderful narrator.
"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?
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