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)
Having heard/ read it, I am beginning to understand why this is a masterpiece. Tolstoy's clarity of thought, and breadth of knowledge, is remarkable - philosopher and writer of a different level, to several of the writers of classics I have read until now. Neville Jason's story telling of this mammoth piece of work is controlled and exceptionally clear, making this the best Audible hear thus far of mine.
I have put this read off based on my expectations of it being long and Russian. I am unfortunately not a Russian author fan. But I was glad I read it, as it was much more interesting than I expected. This narrator helped me get through Proust as well.
Tolstoy is a great genius. This rendering was translated masterfully. I listened to it twice. The philosophy chapters are as compelling as the story telling chapters.
Honestly, I wouldn't even have tried to get through this epic novel if I hadn't seen that the narrator was Neville Jason. He has managed to convey all the wit and compassion the author must have felt when writing this novel. I laughed and cried and learned a lot. I've never written a review before and I've listened to hundreds of audio books, I just wanted to thank Neville Jason for making this classic so enjoyable.
I believe this book is Tolstoy's effort to justify the events of the Napoleonic military campaign on Russia, through a story of fictional characters living through this Era, Historical records told through the Author's perspective and observations/justification of what might (or might not) have been the driver behind the events.
His tale is not always about battlefields, but also investigates the lives of the Russian people fighting the war and their family's and loved ones (at times of War and Peace as the title suggests)
In a way the author tried in this tale to surmmerize what he believed is the esscence of the Russia people's culture, faith, will and pride ( and how this relates to being European at a time when French culture was dominant in Russia).
Finally; It is an important record of what life was like before the Bolshevik changed the Russian identity forever, it might also be a reference for the future of Russia after years of hardship and pain.
I never would have made it through the "hard" version so this audible version was truly a gift of awareness of a truly remarkable work of literature. It is impossible to experience this book without immediately recognizing the source of other books (Gone with the Wind?) and the timelessness of idiotic domestic, international and personal politics. The narration was great. Philosophical musings at end got a little long but they were very much provocative. Glad I experienced War & Peace!
This book is, of course, challenging. Readers are richly rewarded for their persistence with, among other treasures, character development so deep and relatable it transforms the sincere into better people. For me, reading the historical parts takes effort and reading the last chapter, a meta-analysis of history itself, took great effort but it's worth it! This book has kept it's appeal all these years because Tolstoy understood the principles of History and humanity. How I wish more people would understand these and attempt (all any of us can do) to follow our best natures! We truly would have a much better world!
Tolstoy's epic still resonates. Apart from his historiographical meandering, it's a superbly crafted vision of what, for Tolstoy, was recent history. It got me through a lot of yardwork and I felt enriched by Tolstoy's company.
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