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War and Peace
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message 1: by Marta (last edited Oct 05, 2017 06:47PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marta (gezemice) | 214 comments Our year-end Russian doorstop read is War and Peace. We will be taking 3 months to read it. This is your chance!

This thread is for general topics on War and Peace.

A quick overview of things to keep in mind while reading:
(such as hints on names)


Online text at Project Gutenberg:

Cliff Notes character list - might be handy if you have trouble keeping track. Note: do not click on the plot summary if you don't want spoilers!

Marta (gezemice) | 214 comments As always with a translated classic, it is important which translation to choose. I found this topic on Goodreads about translations:


I have tried reading the Pevear and Volokhnosky translation of Anna Karenina, and I hated it. The Constance Garnett translation flowed better and seemed more authentic. Pevear and Volokhnosky is easier to read, however, so some might prefer that.

message 3: by Marta (last edited Oct 05, 2017 07:40PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marta (gezemice) | 214 comments The Maude translation is currently free on Kindle:

Note: I have previously listed multiple links but they all turned out to be using the same translation. The public domain version is by Louise and Aylmer Maude.

message 4: by Bill (last edited Oct 05, 2017 08:49PM) (new) - added it

Bill Burris (wburris) I have the Constance Garnett translation published by the Book-of-the-Month Club. It would be nice if I could find this on goodreads so that the page numbers on my goodreads updates make sense. There is no ISBN on or in this book. My wife got this book in the early 80s.

message 5: by Tobias (new) - added it

Tobias Langhoff (tobiasvl) | 10 comments I'm considering listening to it as an audiobook, is that a good or a bad idea? https://www.audible.com/pd/Classics/W... (it's also the Maude translation)

Michelle (mich2689) | 235 comments I have the P&V translation.

I don’t think I could do audio for War and Peace. It would take too long for me and during discussions it would make it difficult for me to go back and look for certain parts in the book.

Marta (gezemice) | 214 comments I agree with Michelle on the audio. You might want to skim parts, or refer back and forth. Also, it has many characters that might be difficult to follow on audio. I personally also have trouble with really long books on audio - they just take very long to listen to. Reading is faster.

message 8: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian | 331 comments Mod
When I read Anna Karenina, I had a hard copy of the P&V version, but I read about 15% of it as the Constance Garnet translation on my kindle/iPhone. I agree with Marta - I liked the Garnet version more for the writing; it was more exciting/stressful/urgent (If that makes any sense?) I liked the formatting and endnotes/explanations more in the P&V version.

I am kind of hooked on buying Penguin Clothbound Classics, so I bought this one as well, which is the Anthony Briggs version. (But I will probably read some chapters of the free Maude version when I do not have the book with me).

message 9: by Marta (last edited Oct 07, 2017 02:49PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marta (gezemice) | 214 comments I have downloaded samples for multiple Kindle editions and ended up with the newest translation by Rosemary Edmonds, from Penguin Popular Classics:


It both reads easily and flows well. I really like it.

PeekingLlama - Laura Attention
heads up for people who bought this copy of the book from Kindle it starts at book 2


message 11: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Manytravels (mountainhighonbooks) | 45 comments I haven’t seen any posts to this thread for about a year, so I don’t know if this comment is worthwhile or not, but in case it is, here goes:
1. Do not read an abridgment. Anyone I have ever known who did not like War and Peace admitted that they had read an abridged edition. It is like listening the The Doors’ song Light My Fire in its 2 minute version rather than the 7 minute good version. Why do that?
2. As others have said, read a good translation. If you are not resonating with the text after reading a hundred or so pages, find a different version.
3. Get through the first 150 pages no matter what. It gets better after that and even much better during the last four hundred.
4. Write a few notes about who is who as you go along. The characters are usually listed in a section of notes either preceding or following the text. These are always helpful. Also, the Wikipedia article about the book is very helpful with characters.
5. Skim sections. I found the party scenes dull and learned to skim.
6. Give the full force of your bile and hatred to Pierre’s wife Helene. She is despicable.
7. Be aware that the book was written as a social criticism on the aristocracy of Russia, best evidenced in the soirée scenes. Almost 200 pages of the original text was censored by the powers that be when Tolstoy fist submitted it. Nevertheless, when you realize Tolstoy was trying to make readers feel a little disgust at the excesses of the mega-rich, you’ll be on the right track. Helene was meant as the archetype for what Tolstoy was attacking.

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