War And Peace
War and Peace (Russian: ????? ? ???, Vojna i mir; in original orthography: ????? ? ????, Vojna i mir") is an epic novel by Leo Tolstoy, first published from 1863 to 1869, which tells the story of Russian society during the Napoleonic Era. It is usually described as one of Tolstoy's two major masterpieces (the other being Anna Karenina) as well as one of the world's greatest novels.
The Russian words for "peace" (pre-1918: "????") and "world" (pre-1918: "????") are homonyms and since the 1918 reforms have been spelled identically, which lead to an urban legend saying that the original manuscript was called "????? ? ????" so the novel's title would be correctly translated as "War and the World". However, Tolstoy himself translated the title into French as "La guerre et la paix" ("War and Peace"). The urban legend has been perhaps fueled by the Soviet TV quiz show ?to? Gde? Kogda? (???? ???? ??????), which in 1982 presented as a correct answer the "world" variant, based on a 1913 edition of "World and Peace" with a misprint in the title. In contrast, there is also a (unrelated) poem by Vladimir Mayakovsky called "????? ? ????" (i.e. "????" as "world"), written in 1916.
War and Peace offered a new kind of fiction, with a great many characters caught up in a plot that covered nothing less than the grand subjects indicated by the title, combined with the equally large topics of youth, age and marriage. While today it is considered a novel, it broke so many novelistic conventions of its day that many critics of Tolstoy's time did not consider it as such. Tolstoy himself considered Anna Karenina (1878) to be his first attempt at a novel in the European sense.
War and Peace depicts a huge cast of characters, both historical and fictional, the majority of whom are introduced in the first book. At a soirée given by Anna Pavlovna Scherer in July 1805, the main players and families of the novel are made known. Pierre Bezukhov is the illegitimate son of a wealthy count who is dying of stroke, and becomes unexpectedly embroiled in a tussle for inheritance. Intelligent and ironic, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, husband of a charming wife, finds little comfort in married life, instead choosing to be aide-de-camp of Kutuzov in their coming war against Napoleon. We learn too of the Moscow Rostov family, with four adolescent children, of which the vivacious younger daughter Natalya Rostova ("Natasha") and impetuous older Nikolai Rostov are the most memorable. At Bald Hills, Prince Andrei leaves his pregnant wife to his eccentric father and devout sister Maria Bolkonskaya and leaves for war.
If there is a central character to War and Peace it is Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a wealthy count, who upon receiving an unexpected inheritance is suddenly burdened with the responsibilities and conflicts of a Russian nobleman. His former carefree behavior vanishes and he enters upon a philosophical quest particular to Tolstoy: how should one live a moral life in an imperfect world? He attempts to free his peasants and improve his estate, but ultimately achieves nothing. He enters into marriage with Prince Kuragin's beautiful and immoral daughter Elena, against his own better judgement.
Elena and her brother Anatoly then conspire together for Anatoly to seduce and dishonor the young and beautiful Natasha Rostova. Pierre rescues her, but recoils from his feeling of love for her. When Napoleon invades Russia, Pierre observes the Battle of Borodino up close by standing near a Russian artillery crew and he learns how bloody and horrific war really is. When Napoleon's Grand Army occupies an abandoned and burning Moscow, Pierre takes off on a quixotic mission to assassinate Napoleon and is captured as a prisoner of war. After witnessing French soldiers sacking Moscow and shooting Russian civilians, Pierre is forced to march with the Grand Army during its disastrous retreat from Moscow. He is later freed bssian raiding party. His wife Elena dies sometime during Napoleon's invasion and Pierre is reunited with Natasha while the victorious Russians rebuild Moscow. Pierre finds love at last and marries Natasha, while Nikolai marries Maria Bolkonskaya. Andrey, who was also in love with Natasha, is wounded during Napoleon's invasion and eventually dies after being reunited with Natasha before the end of the war.
Tolstoy vividly depicts the contrast between Napoleon and the Russian general Kutuzov, both in terms of personality and in the clash of armies. Napoleon chose wrongly, opting to march on to Moscow and occupy it for five fatal weeks, when he would have been better off destroying the Russian army in a decisive battle. General Kutuzov believes time to be his best ally, and refrains from engaging the French, who ultimately destroy themselves as they limp back toward the French border. They are all but destroyed by a final Cossack attack as they straggle back toward Paris.
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