War and Peace pdf Overview, Book by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace pdf is a literary work of the prominent Russian author Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace is mixed with chapters on history and philosophy. The renowned Russian Author also wrote the prominent book Anna Karenina.
War and Peace was first published serially, then published in its entirety in 1869. It is regarded as one of Tolstoy’s finest literary achievements and remains an internationally praised classic of world literature.
According to the author of war and peace Tolstoy, the best Russian literature does not conform to standards and hence hesitated to classify War and Peace, saying it is “not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less a historical chronicle”. Large sections, especially the later chapters, are philosophical discussions rather than narrative. He regarded Anna Karenina as his first true novel.
War and Peace Summary (Wikipedia)
In Summary, War and Peace Broadly focuses on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three of the most well-known characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count who is fighting for his inheritance and yearning for spiritual fulfillment; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who leaves his family behind to fight in the war against Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, the beautiful young daughter of a nobleman who intrigues both men.
As Napoleon’s army invades, Tolstoy brilliantly follows characters from diverse backgrounds—peasants and nobility, civilians and soldiers—as they struggle with the problems unique to their era, their history, and their culture. And as the novel progresses, these characters transcend their specificity, becoming some of the most moving—and human—figures in world literature.
War and Peace pdf Summary Book One
The novel begins in July 1805 in Saint Petersburg, at a soirée given by Anna Pavlovna Scherer, the maid of honor and confidante to the dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. Many of the main characters are introduced as they enter the salon. Pierre (Pyotr Kirilovich) Bezukhov is the illegitimate son of a wealthy count, who is dying after a series of strokes. Pierre is about to become embroiled in a struggle for his inheritance. Educated abroad at his father’s expense following his mother’s death, Pierre is kind hearted but socially awkward, and finds it difficult to integrate into Petersburg society. It is known to everyone at the soirée that Pierre is his father’s favorite of all the old count’s illegitimate progeny. They respect Pierre during the soiree because his father, Count Bezukhov, is a very rich man, and as Pierre is his favorite, most aristocrats think that the fortune of his father will be given to him even though he is illegitimate.
Also attending the soirée is Pierre’s friend, Prince Andrei Nikolayevich Bolkonsky, husband of Lise, a charming society favorite. He is disillusioned with Petersburg society and with married life; feeling that his wife is empty and superficial, he comes to hate her and all women, expressing patently misogynistic views to Pierre when the two are alone. Pierre does not quite know what to do with this, and is made uncomfortable witnessing the marital discord. Pierre had been sent to St Petersburg by his father to choose a career for himself, but he is quite uncomfortable because he cannot find one and everybody keeps on asking about this. Andrei tells Pierre he has decided to become aide-de-camp to Prince Mikhail Ilarionovich Kutuzov in the coming war (The Battle of Austerlitz) against Napoleon in order to escape a life he cannot stand.
The plot moves to Moscow, Russia’s former capital, contrasting its provincial, more Russian ways to the more European society of Saint Petersburg. The Rostov family is introduced. Count Ilya Andreyevich Rostov and Countess Natalya Rostova are an affectionate couple but forever worried about their disordered finances. They have four children. Thirteen-year-old Natasha (Natalia Ilyinichna) believes herself in love with Boris Drubetskoy, a young man who is about to join the army as an officer. The mother of Boris is Anna Mikhaylovna Drubetskaya who is a childhood friend of the countess Natalya Rostova. Boris is also the godson of Count Bezukhov (Pierre’s father). Twenty-year-old Nikolai Ilyich pledges his love to Sonya (Sofia Alexandrovna), his fifteen-year-old cousin, an orphan who has been brought up by the Rostovs. The eldest child, Vera Ilyinichna, is cold and somewhat haughty but has a good prospective marriage to a Russian-German officer, Adolf Karlovich Berg. Petya (Pyotr Ilyich) at nine is the youngest; like his brother, he is impetuous and eager to join the army when of age.
At Bald Hills, the Bolkonskys’ country estate, Prince Andrei departs for war and leaves his terrified, pregnant wife Lise with his eccentric father Prince Nikolai Andreyevich and devoutly religious sister Maria Nikolayevna Bolkonskaya, who refuses to marry the son of a wealthy aristocrat on account of her devotion to her father and suspicion that the young man would be unfaithful to her.
The second part opens with descriptions of the impending Russian-French war preparations. At the Schöngrabern engagement, Nikolai Rostov, now an ensign in the hussars, has his first taste of battle. Boris Drubetskoy introduces him to Prince Andrei, whom Rostov insults in a fit of impetuousness. He is deeply attracted by Tsar Alexander’s charisma. Nikolai gambles and socializes with his officer, Vasily Dmitrich Denisov, and befriends the ruthless Fyodor Ivanovich Dolokhov. Bolkonsky, Rostov and Denisov are involved in the disastrous Battle of Austerlitz, in which Prince Andrei is badly wounded as he attempts to rescue a Russian standard.
The Battle of Austerlitz is a major event in the book. As the battle is about to start, Prince Andrei thinks the approaching “day [will] be his Toulon, or his Arcola”, references to Napoleon’s early victories. Later in the battle, however, Andrei falls into enemy hands and even meets his hero, Napoleon. But his previous enthusiasm has been shattered; he no longer thinks much of Napoleon, “so petty did his hero with his paltry vanity and delight in victory appear, compared to that lofty, righteous and kindly sky which he had seen and comprehended”. Tolstoy portrays Austerlitz as an early test for Russia, one which ended badly because the soldiers fought for irrelevant things like glory or renown rather than the higher virtues which would produce, according to Tolstoy, a victory at Borodino during the 1812 invasion.
War and Peace pdf Summary Book Two
Book Two begins with Nikolai Rostov returning on leave to Moscow accompanied by his friend Denisov, his officer from his Pavlograd Regiment. He spends an eventful winter at home. Natasha has blossomed into a beautiful young woman. Denisov falls in love with her and proposes marriage, but is rejected. Nikolai meets Dolokhov, and they grow closer as friends. Dolokhov falls in love with Sonya, Nikolai’s cousin, but as she is in love with Nikolai, she rejects Dolokhov’s proposal. Nikolai meets Dolokhov some time later. The resentful Dolokhov challenges Nikolai at cards, and Nikolai loses every hand until he sinks into a 43,000 ruble debt. Although his mother pleads with Nikolai to marry a wealthy heiress to rescue the family from its dire financial straits, he refuses. Instead, he promises to marry his childhood crush and orphaned cousin, the dowry-less Sonya.
Pierre Bezukhov, upon finally receiving his massive inheritance, is suddenly transformed from a bumbling young man into the most eligible bachelor in Russian society. Despite knowing that it is wrong, he is convinced into marriage with Prince Kuragin’s beautiful and immoral daughter Hélène (Elena Vasilyevna Kuragina). Hélène, who is rumored to be involved in an incestuous affair with her brother Anatole, tells Pierre that she will never have children with him. Hélène is also rumored to be having an affair with Dolokhov, who mocks Pierre in public. Pierre loses his temper and challenges Dolokhov to a duel. Unexpectedly (because Dolokhov is a seasoned dueller), Pierre wounds Dolokhov. Hélène denies her affair, but Pierre is convinced of her guilt and leaves her. In his moral and spiritual confusion, Pierre joins the Freemasons. Much of Book Two concerns his struggles with his passions and his spiritual conflicts. He abandons his former carefree behavior and enters upon a philosophical quest particular to Tolstoy: how should one live a moral life in an ethically imperfect world? The question continually baffles Pierre. He attempts to liberate his serfs, but ultimately achieves nothing of note.
Pierre is contrasted with Prince Andrei Bolkonsky. Andrei recovers from his near-fatal wound in a military hospital and returns home, only to find his wife Lise dying in childbirth. He is stricken by his guilty conscience for not treating her better. His child, Nikolai, survives.
Burdened with nihilistic disillusionment, Prince Andrei does not return to the army but remains on his estate, working on a project that would codify military behavior to solve problems of disorganization responsible for the loss of life on the Russian side. Pierre visits him and brings new questions: where is God in this amoral world? Pierre is interested in panentheism and the possibility of an afterlife.
Pierre’s wife, Hélène, begs him to take her back, and trying to abide by the Freemason laws of forgiveness, he agrees. Hélène establishes herself as an influential hostess in Petersburg society.
Prince Andrei feels impelled to take his newly written military notions to Saint Petersburg, naively expecting to influence either the Emperor himself or those close to him. Young Natasha, also in Saint Petersburg, is caught up in the excitement of her first grand ball, where she meets Prince Andrei and briefly reinvigorates him with her vivacious charm. Andrei believes he has found purpose in life again and, after paying the Rostovs several visits, proposes marriage to Natasha. However, Andrei’s father dislikes the Rostovs and opposes the marriage, insisting that the couple wait a year before marrying. Prince Andrei leaves to recuperate from his wounds abroad, leaving Natasha distraught. Count Rostov takes her and Sonya to Moscow in order to raise funds for her trousseau.
Natasha visits the Moscow opera, where she meets Hélène and her brother Anatole. Anatole has since married a Polish woman whom he abandoned in Poland. He is very attracted to Natasha and determined to seduce her, and conspires with his sister to do so. Anatole succeeds in making Natasha believe he loves her, eventually establishing plans to elope. Natasha writes to Princess Maria, Andrei’s sister, breaking off her engagement. At the last moment, Sonya discovers her plans to elope and foils them. Natasha learns from Pierre of Anatole’s marriage. Devastated, Natasha makes a suicide attempt and is left seriously ill.
Pierre is initially horrified by Natasha’s behavior but realizes he has fallen in love with her. As the Great Comet of 1811–12 streaks across the sky, life appears to begin anew for Pierre. Prince Andrei coldly accepts Natasha’s breaking of the engagement. He tells Pierre that his pride will not allow him to renew his proposal.
War and Peace pdf Summary Book Three
With the help of her family, and the stirrings of religious faith, Natasha manages to persevere in Moscow through this dark period. Meanwhile, the whole of Russia is affected by the coming confrontation between Napoleon’s army and the Russian army. Pierre convinces himself through gematria that Napoleon is the Antichrist of the Book of Revelation. Old Prince Bolkonsky dies of a stroke knowing that French marauders are coming for his estate. No organized help from any Russian army seems available to the Bolkonskys, but Nikolai Rostov turns up at their estate in time to help put down an incipient peasant revolt. He finds himself attracted to the distraught Princess Maria.
Back in Moscow, the patriotic Petya joins a crowd in the audience of Tzar Alexander and manages to snatch a biscuit thrown from the balcony window of the Cathedral of the Assumption by the Tzar. He is nearly crushed by the throngs in his effort. Under the influence of the same patriotism, his father finally allows him to enlist.
Napoleon himself is the main character in this section, and the novel presents him in vivid detail, both personally and as both a thinker and would-be strategist. Also described are the well-organized force of over four hundred thousand troops of the French Grande Armée (only one hundred and forty thousand of them actually French-speaking) that marches through the Russian countryside in the late summer and reaches the outskirts of the city of Smolensk. Pierre decides to leave Moscow and go to watch the Battle of Borodino from a vantage point next to a Russian artillery crew. After watching for a time, he begins to join in carrying ammunition. In the midst of the turmoil he experiences first-hand the death and destruction of war; Eugène’s artillery continues to pound Russian support columns, while Marshals Ney and Davout set up a crossfire with artillery positioned on the Semyonovskaya heights. The battle becomes a hideous slaughter for both armies and ends in a standoff. The Russians, however, have won a moral victory by standing up to Napoleon’s reputedly invincible army. The Russian army withdraws the next day, allowing Napoleon to march on to Moscow. Among the casualties are Anatole Kuragin and Prince Andrei. Anatole loses a leg, and Andrei suffers a grenade wound in the abdomen. Both are reported dead, but their families are in such disarray that no one can be notified.
War and Peace pdf Summary Book Four
The Rostovs have waited until the last minute to abandon Moscow, even after it became clear that Kutuzov had retreated past Moscow. The Muscovites are being given contradictory instructions on how to either flee or fight. Count Fyodor Rostopchin, the commander in chief of Moscow, is publishing posters, rousing the citizens to put their faith in religious icons, while at the same time urging them to fight with pitchforks if necessary. Before fleeing himself, he gives orders to burn the city. However, Tolstoy states that the burning of an abandoned city mostly built of wood was inevitable, and while the French blame the Russians, they blame the French. The Rostovs have a difficult time deciding what to take with them, but in the end, Natasha convinces them to load their carts with the wounded and dying from the Battle of Borodino. Unknown to Natasha, Prince Andrei is amongst the wounded.
When Napoleon’s army finally occupies an abandoned and burning Moscow, Pierre takes off on a quixotic mission to assassinate Napoleon. He becomes anonymous in all the chaos, shedding his responsibilities by wearing peasant clothes and shunning his duties and lifestyle. The only people he sees are Natasha and some of her family, as they depart Moscow. Natasha recognizes and smiles at him, and he in turn realizes the full scope of his love for her.
Pierre saves the life of a French officer who enters his home looking for shelter, and they have a long, amicable conversation. The next day Pierre goes into the street to resume his assassination plan, and comes across two French soldiers robbing an Armenian family. When one of the soldiers tries to rip the necklace off the young Armenian woman’s neck, Pierre intervenes by attacking the soldiers, and is taken prisoner by the French army. He believes he will be executed, but in the end is spared. He witnesses, with horror, the execution of other prisoners.
Pierre becomes friends with a fellow prisoner, Platon Karataev, a Russian peasant with a saintly demeanor. In Karataev, Pierre finally finds what he has been seeking: an honest person of integrity, who is utterly without pretense. Pierre discovers meaning in life simply by interacting with him. After witnessing French soldiers sacking Moscow and shooting Russian civilians arbitrarily, Pierre is forced to march with the Grand Army during its disastrous retreat from Moscow in the harsh Russian winter. After months of tribulation—during which the fever-plagued Karataev is shot by the French—Pierre is finally freed by a Russian raiding party led by Dolokhov and Denisov, after a small skirmish with the French that sees the young Petya Rostov killed in action.
Meanwhile, Andrei has been taken in and cared for by the Rostovs, fleeing from Moscow to Yaroslavl. He is reunited with Natasha and his sister Maria before the end of the war. In an internal transformation, he loses the fear of death and forgives Natasha in a last act before dying.
Nikolai becomes worried about his family’s finances, and leaves the army after hearing of Petya’s death. There is little hope for recovery. Given Rostov’s ruin, he does not feel comfortable with the prospect of marrying the wealthy Marya Bolkonsky, but when they meet again they both still feel love for each other. As the novel draws to a close, Pierre’s wife Hélène dies from an overdose of an abortifacient (Tolstoy does not state it explicitly but the euphemism he uses is unambiguous). Pierre is reunited with Natasha, while the victorious Russians rebuild Moscow. Natasha speaks of Prince Andrei’s death and Pierre of Karataev’s. Both are aware of a growing bond between them in their bereavement. With the help of Princess Maria, Pierre finds love at last and marries Natasha.
War and Peace Author – Leo Tolstoy
Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy Russian: Лев Николаевич Толстой; (9 September 1828 – 20 November 1910), usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He received nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906 and for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1909 but never won.
Born to an aristocratic Russian family in 1828, Tolstoy’s notable works include the novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1878) often cited as pinnacles of realist fiction. He first achieved literary acclaim in his twenties with his semi-autobiographical trilogy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (1852–1856), and Sevastopol Sketches (1855), based upon his experiences in the Crimean War. His fiction includes dozens of short stories and several novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886), Family Happiness (1859), “After the Ball” (1911), and Hadji Murad (1912). He also wrote plays and numerous philosophical essays.
War and Peace pdf Book Information
War and peace has been adapted to film, television series, music, opera, theater and radio. The book has the basic information below.
- Publisher : Vintage; Vintage Classics ed. edition (December 2, 2008)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 1296 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1400079985
- ISBN-13 : 978-1400079988
- Lexile measure : 1200L
- Item Weight : 2.75 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.2 x 2.4 x 9.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #10,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #7 in Russian Literature (Books)
- #96 in Biographical Historical Fiction
- #97 in Military Historical Fiction
- Customer Reviews:
- 4.5 out of 5 stars
- 3,186 ratings
War and Peace pdf Reviews
“Shimmering. . . . [It] offers an opportunity to see this great classic afresh, to approach it not as a monument but rather as a deeply touching story about our contradictory human hearts.”
—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World
“A major new translation . . . [which] brings us the palpability [of Tolstoy’s characters] as perhaps never before. . . . Pevear and Volokhonsky’s new translation gives us new access to the spirit and order of the book.”
—James Wood, The New Yorker
“Excellent. . . . An extraordinary achievement. . . . Wonderfully fresh and readable. . . . The English-speaking world is indebted to these two magnificent translators for revealing more of its hidden riches than any who have tried to translated the book before.”
—Orlando Figes, The New York Review of Books
“Tolstoy’s War and Peace has often been put in a league with Homer’s epic poems; it seems to me that the same might be said for Pevear and Volokhonsky’s translation of his great novel. . . . Their efforts convey a much closer equivalent in English to the experience of reading the original.”
—Michael Katz, New England Review
Review from Amazon Buyers
5.0 out of 5 stars The master of descriptive subtlety.
This book should be on every literary bucket list.
Reviewed in the United States on June 18, 2018
It is unlikely that anyone who has the endurance to finish this book would give it a poor review. That would still be true, however, if it were one-third the length. It is, if not the best novel ever written, certainly on a very short list of great works of literature.
The beauty of the prose, for me, is the fact that Tolstoy speaks through subtlety. His powers of description are beyond comparison, and in fact there is relatively little dialogue given the length of the book. But the focus of his descriptive powers is not the scenery or the landscape, as is often the case, but the gesture, the look on the face, the social context of the event. This is a subtlety that is lost in our dialogue-heavy, action-packed world today, and is almost foreign to most contemporary authors.
Which, in part, also explains why War and Peace pdf seems inapproachable to many contemporary readers. Many of us have lost touch with subtlety and if you are one of those, reading this book would be the greatest gift you can give yourself in the months ahead.
“Helene was so good-looking that there was not only not a trace of coquetry to be seen in her, but, on the contrary, it was as if she was embarrassed by her unquestionable and all too strongly and triumphantly effective beauty. It was as if she wished but was unable to diminish the effect of her beauty.” When was the last time you read such a descriptive passage that used so few descriptive adjectives?
One of the common criticisms of the book is that the characters often speak in French, which is retained in this translation. This is more true in the beginning, however, and, in total, the French represents a small portion of the total prose. And translation is provided, although the electronic version requires a certain amount of digital (as in fingers) dexterity that I don’t seem to have.
Tolstoy, however, is sensitive to the inconvenience and I can’t recall a single passage in which the French was central to either the theme or the storyline. It is mostly there for context, so even if you pass over the short phrases you will miss little other than the full experience that Tolstoy intended. Also remember that French and English are not all that foreign to each other and the most important words in French can be easily guessed by English readers with a little lingual abandonment.
Similarly, the complexity of Russian naming conventions need not be the burden it often is to the English reader. Tolstoy most definitely wrote a novel, not a mystery thriller, although he claims that it is not a novel. The storyline is not the book; it serves the theme. That, along with the rich context provided by Tolstoy’s prose, means that you don’t have to recognize each name before you complete the sentence. Nine times out of ten the identity will become obvious before the scene ends. And for that exception there is a handy reference guide. My advice: when you encounter a name that you don’t immediately recognize, read on for a bit before you look it up.
As a thematic novel, it is not Tolstoy’s intent to document the Napoleonic wars, although that is the rough timeline of the book. He uses the history more to reveal the cultural themes he seeks to reveal—the culture of the Russian aristocracy at the time.
While that culture contrasts sharply with the way in which most Americans are inclined to think of Russia, the themes are quite timeless. There are many passages which could as easily be describing today’s aristocracy—the wealthy elite. As Yogi Berra reminded us, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Tolstoy is particularly philosophical about war. When I asked a friend of mine who was a Marine veteran who served in the jungles of Vietnam what he thought about the movie, “Saving Private Ryan”, he noted that no one has ever been able to capture the sheer chaos of war on film. Tolstoy, however, does capture it in prose and it is moving without being graphic or overly detailed. You nonetheless feel that you are immersed in the same situational context as the young infantryman thrown about in the chaos of futility and death.
In the end, this book easily earns its reputation as one of the best novels ever written. Through his grasp of subtlety and his incomparable ability to build intangible impressions with tangible prose, Tolstoy takes us through the full range of human emotions, accomplishment, and vacuity.
Unlike most contemporary authors, Tolstoy actually “tells” us little. As many great novels do, he merely puts themes out there for us to consider and mold to our own experience and our own lives. You will be surprised at how much of yourself you find in early 19th Century Russian characters and events. If not timeless, the insight and the human revelation are universal. As Tolstoy himself wrote, “We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Classics, Pevear & Volokhonsky: Best edition I’ve seen (review slighted updated for clarity)Reviewed in the United States on February 23, 2017
I have, at various times, tried to read four different editions of War & Peace (Penguin, Signet, Barnes & Noble, and now this) and by far, this (the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation from Vintage Classics) is the best edition I’ve seen. This edition is everything I was looking for in a copy of War & Peace and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
It is highly readable. Translating texts is always difficult, because you want to retain the feel of reading a Nineteenth century work but use language that makes the work accessible. Personally, I found some editions (Barnes & Noble, Penguin) to be hard to read and comprehend, especially when you first begin. This edition is a relative breeze to read.
It has French translations. When reading the Signet edition, I found myself using google translate to understand sentences or phrases left in the book in French. Other editions translated most of the French but left phrases here and there untranslated and in the text, without footnotes. I understand in the original, Tolstoy wrote entire passages in French but provided translations in the foot notes. This edition follows that pattern. There are entire passages in French, but they are translated in the footnotes on the page.
It has historical end-notes and an index. I am not unfamiliar with European and Russian history, but I, like most people, have no more knowledge than what I learned in my freshman world history class. This work has end notes in the text to provide context. Though it slows me down, I find myself flipping to the back of the book and reading every end note when the text provides it. I cannot stress enough how helpful this has been. The index is likewise helpful. It is an alphabetical list and short biography of the historical characters and places mentioned in War and Peace.
It includes a short chapter summary. At the very end of the book, there is a chapter summary for a collection of chapters sharing a theme or describing the same event. The summary is no more than a sentence long and provides a nice refresher when you are trying to recall what happened when.
Compared to editions that translate all the French, reading in the footnotes can be burdensome. I personally don’t mind, but I can see how that might trip some people up.
If you are looking for a copy of War and Peace, this is the one to get. Trust me.
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for anyone. Anytime. NOW.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 24, 2020
I finally convinced myself to read War and Peace pdf, partly because it is just something everyone wants to say they have done and partly because I had just watched the spectacular BBC adaptation.
I can say now that my enjoyment of this piece of literature has been heavily influenced by that wonderful piece of televisual art.
Before turning the last page of this Herculean novel, which had lain neglected on my bookshelf for more than five years, War and Peace was a pending task in my mental reading universe, knowing it to be one of the greatest Russian or maybe simply one of the greatest novels of all times.
This book is probably already lying on your bookshelf. It has probably been there for years, since university, perhaps.
Start reading it this evening.
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