War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace is considered one of the greatest novels ever
written. It is superbly realistic, both in characterization and in
War and Peace, a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, published
between 1865 and 1869. It presents a vast panorama of Russian life
during the period of the Napoleonic Wars. Scenes portraying the lives
of individuals and families, mostly from the upper classes of Russian
society, are brilliantly interwoven with episodes from the military
campaigns of Napoleon and the opposing Russian general Kutuzov. The
action is climaxed by the unsuccessful French invasion of Russia in
The main characters include Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, Pierre Bezuhov, and Natasha Rostov. Andrei, handsome and sophisticated, holds aristocratic ideals of valor but is eventually disillusioned by human frailty and corruption. Pierre, by contrast, is unglamorous and clumsy but has a rare natural warmth and goodness of heart. Both men fall in love with Natasha, whose freshness and spontaneity make her one of the most appealing women in fiction. Andrei dies of wounds received at the Battle of Borodino, and Pierre eventually marries Natasha.
Tolstoy's genius for evoking ordinary human activities and relationships was matched by his ability to describe great events, such as the Battle of Austerlitz and the burning of Moscow. The novel embodies Tolstoy's vision of history as a vast fabric of millions of lives that is unaltered by the schemes or ambitions of any single individual, such as Napoleon I. It also contains Tolstoy's moral message: True grandeur cannot exist without simplicity, goodness, and truth. The quality of artistic imagination in War and Peace is perhaps unequalled in world fiction.