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War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Updated on December 24, 2009

War and Peace is considered one of the greatest novels ever written. It is superbly realistic, both in characterization and in descriptive detail.


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 1812.

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.

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    • profile image

      the fix 

      7 years ago

      Hi I came upon your Hub because I just finished writing a Hub about e-readers and went on a tangent about my favorite book War and Peace. I searched the site and found your lovely piece! I think you would like the video I embedded in my Hub check it out here: http://hubpages.com/t/1c4700 and feel free to add it to this Hub!

    • mintinfo profile image

      mintinfo 

      8 years ago

      I have not read War and Peace but so much has been said about it that I would look for it one of these days.

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