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.
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"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)
This applied to both volumes. The book is famously long, so I might want to listen again, but a few years down the road. The vast panorama of Napoleon's 1812 invasion of Russia is covered in all phases with historical accuracy and a large cast of diverse characters. Tolstoy's psychological insights are right-on and applicable today. His descriptions of the battles are mesmerizing - you can almost smell the gunpowder. Truly a literary masterpiece, but requiring a bit more work on the part of the listener/reader than Anna K.
The retreat of Napoleon from Moscow (to be duplicated by Hitler over a century later - didn't he read War and Peace?) induced by the spirit and tactics of the out-manned Russian military (with an assist from the Russian winter).
This is a close call between several, but I have to go with Prince Andre.
No, for an obvious reason.
The performance by N. Jason was brilliant. I wish I could give him more than 5 stars. Simply the best performance in any audio book I have listened to. Makes you feel that you are sitting in a movie theater.
Two suggestions: obtain before reading:
1. A list of characters and their relationships.
2. Maps of the Napoleonic invasion, esp. the battle of Borodino.
I found both on the Internet.
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
It's all good.
He is fantastic. Consistent and easy to listen to.
Just love this book.
Do yourself a favour and listen to this book. Then buy a copy of the book, read it yourself. What ever you do, don't watch the 1950s Hollywood production of War & Peace. The novel is so much better.
Tired teacher. That is, REtired teacher.
I ended up loving this book. Yes, it is long, and has a lot of stuff in it that could be cut out, but omitting anything would lessen the book. I am very happy that I listened to the entire 61 hours and 44 minutes. I am pretty sure I have changed, and have grown as a person as a result of this book. Now I'm going to go listen to something light and cheerful!
BTW, Neville Jason is an amazing narrator! My standard for judging a good narrator is "could I listen to him read the phone book and enjoy it?" Yes, I could, Neville. Thank you.
Prince Andrea destroyed himself on stubbornness and his refusal to forgive until it was too late.
The worst decisions made in life are usually overreactions to things that you have no control of anyway. To love life is to love god. And in order to love life you must love the inevitability of your own suffering and happiness.
I gave volume 1 a bad review. I just didn't get it. I have heard so much about this novel, and I was just let down. Volume 1 was completely pointless in my opinion. He did a horrible job building the characters and the setting. The story was all over the place and followed people who really had nothing to do with the story.
With that said, Volume 2 was completely different and at times, genius. Really, Volume 2 could have been the whole book. A number of times Tolstoy went into deep philosophical discussions that were quite profound. The way he describes death is almost like he experienced it already. The thoughts he has on what caused events to take place, were very thought provoking as well. At times his point of view just seemed like strokes of genius. If you want to read this novel, but have held off because of the size, you would be completely fine just reading Volume 2. It is well worth it.
This was one of the best audible books I've heard. The narrator was great as well. I finished it faster than a lot of shorter novels I've heard.
I recall reading this book as a paperback about fifty years ago. Unexpectedly the Russian names were easier to keep track of in the audio version. My grasp of both history and the human psyche is certainly more mature allowing me to appreciate Tolstoy on a different level.
It is a long listen. Probably took me a month. I guess it stands the test of time in that way as well.
"Had to be done"
Everyone should read War & Peace, it's said. Well, it was worth the listen, but probably only just. This tour de force is enormously long and could have been improved by a judicious editor. The biggest surprise was how little I liked the main characters. It did make it a little hard to care as their stories developed. And the least worst of them was the only one to die an untimely death. It was interesting to hear (and compare) a Russian, and now itself historic, perspective on the Napoleonic Wars, but no-one would accuse Tolstoy of subtlety, and ultimately the didacticism became an irritant. Had to be done, but I won't be doing it again.
"Thank god you can alter the narration speed!"
They're both good to use, I went between both.
The author occasionally stopped to analyse what was going on and talk about its place in history.
The narrator reads very very slowly so i had to alter the speed, 1.5x made it normal reading speed but i put it to 2x sometimes too as it was still understandable but a little quicker.
There were some moments that really made me think, about people, war and history.
Just to say again that you might need to speed the book up when you listen to it because the narration is very slow.
both volumes absolutely enchanting. Would listen again.
The narrating immediately engages, which is essential given the complexity of thedtory and its length.
I will listen to this again.
"It was to be 5 stars"
I approached this book with trepidation (I did start and stop reading it many moons ago) but, although long, it was not at all a chore to listen to. During the first book I struggled with remembering which character was which and how they were related, so I wrote down a list from Wikipedia, then I was off. What struck me was how well Tolstoy perceived and described the innermost feelings of his characters. I had a preconceived notion that an old book written by a man wouldn't really do feelings. Its length gives you plenty of space to know, understand and believe in the characters and I could have continued to follow their lives when the book stopped! The parts where he philosophises about the nature of war were for the most part interesting. The narrator was excellent (what a marathon) although I wasn't completely convinced by his female voices!
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