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)
War and Peace is a book that I put off reading for quite a long time. I have to say that I regret not having read it earlier in life, as the characters are so very true to life, and the story, while specific to its time, has themes that are universal and timeless. As one familiar with the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian, I found Tolstoy's Russia of the same time period to be startlingly familiar in many ways, and quickly became engrossed in the story.
Listening to it in Audio book format only adds to the pleasure, as Neville Jason narrates each scene with superb timing, and is able to pitch his voice and change his tempo to put real "character" behind each character. It seems impossible, but he's able to portray both young and old women in a variety of circumstances in such a way that you ~never~ feel he's striking a false not, or tempt you to laugh at the voices he summons for them.
The basic character of humanity apparently does not change. Tolstoy's asides (Such as "Like all young men, he was determined to make his opinion known.") are as true today as when he wrote them. The nature and actions of the many people within the book are never dull, sometimes moving, often very funny, and always authentic.
I've purchased a printed version of War and Peace which I will look forward to re-reading from time to time, and may keep a few audio chapters handy for "impulse listening" in the future.
By all means, take a listen - War and Peace's reputation is wholly deserved.
Yes it is a long story, rather like reading Proust (the atmosphere created by the words and the story is the main thing), but this one has quite some action in it. And being told about an exciting time and a pivotal period in European history it is a "must read" for Americans and Europeans alike. Brilliantly read - never boring.
I have loved W&P since college--and that's a long time ago. I've read it, I suppose, twenty times. But never have I enjoyed it quite so much as in this splendid reading. Neville Jason is a genius. (And, duh, so is Tolstoy.) Highly recommended.
Manager of public library services & earned 4 university degrees. The great narrators help us to fully understand & appreciate great books.
I cannot imagine a better narrator, for this great book, than Neville Jason. I read it 3 times before hearing it read by NJ and I cannot praise it too highly - his narration adds a new dimension to the experience of this masterpiece. I wish Audible would make all Tolstoy's and Dostoyevsky's books available - must be read by NJ.
Thank you too Tolstoy, Neville Jason & Audible.
I read War and Peace a few years ago and enjoyed it very much. I recently felt the desire to read it again and decided to seek out an audiobook version this time, for a little variety. I am quite pleased I did!
This is an excellent recording and the narrator is fantastic. He does an marvelous job with all the characters and truly brings this magnificent work to life.
The story of War and Peace is an amazingly colorful and exciting story. It's almost a thrill a minute. But some thrills are quieter than others. The way the drawing room and the battle field start to become parallel in the reader's mind is brilliant. The narrator makes the story a pleasure to listen to. This book isn't meant to be gulped down or swallowed all at once. It's meant to be sipped and enjoyed, like a fine wine.
It took me a few months to get through this but it was well worth it. I think even better than the story is the superb reading by the narrator. I will go in search of other audiobooks by this narrator because he was so good. In a book that has so many characters he was able to give each person their own unique personality. Being a history grad I really enjoyed this book, but I understand that it may be a bit daunting for most casual readers. Yet it entwines love stories with Russian history beautifully and if someone has the time they would enjoy it. And talk about value, 60 hours for 2 credits...wow!
I had already read War and Peace twice in the course of my life and had modest expectations of listening to it read for me. Neville Jason well surpassed those expectations. He reads the book splendidly and had me listening with great pleasure. I am grateful to him.
Listening to a book written more than 100 years ago about a country that I was told by the media/government was an 'enemy' gives me comfort that what I'm going through - at work, at home, in governmental gyrations - has all been experienced before. Mankind survived that period of time, and will survive this. This is everything you could want in a classic - romance, comedy, action, history, philosophy, sadness - plus it gave me a view of wars that were not covered well in American history because our participation was limited to funding Napoleon through the Louisiana Purchase.
The reader is excellent, and gives life to the characters.
It's broken into short 'books' - 2 to 4 hour segments, so you don't have to listen to 30 continuous hours.
I think his philosophy is still relevant, and his opinion on historians and their perspective was interesting.
Utterly flawless narration! Like an earlier reviewer, I have tried a couple of times to read War and Peace and always got mired in Part Two. Thanks to this talented narrator and a relaxing 40 minute commute, I made it through Part Two and am now totally engrossed. I am now inspired to go back and read the book.
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