War and Peace is considered one of the finest novels ever written, telling about a vast epic centred on Napoleon’s war with Russia and its effects on the lives of those caught up in the conflict during the early 19th century. While it expresses Tolstoy’s view that history is an inexorable process which man cannot influence, he peoples his great novel with a cast of over five hundred characters.
He creates some of the most vital and involving characters in literature as he follows the rise and fall of families in St Petersburg and Moscow who are linked by their personal and political relationships. His heroes are the thoughtful yet impulsive Pierre Bezukhov, his ambitious friend, Prince Andrei, and the woman who becomes indispensable to both of them, the enchanting Natasha Rostov.
Set against the sweeping panoply of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, War and Peace – presented here in the first new English translation in forty years – is often considered the greatest novel ever written. At its center are Pierre Bezukhov, searching for meaning in his life; cynical Prince Andrei, ennobled by wartime suffering; and Natasha Rostov, whose impulsiveness threatens to destroy her happiness.
As Tolstoy follows the changing fortunes of his characters, he crafts a view of humanity that is both epic and intimate and that continues to define fiction at its most resplendent.
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