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Favorite Moment in War and Peace

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Mickey This book is filled with so many great, memorable moments. I'm interested in hearing other people's favorites.

My favorite moment was in Book Three, during the Battle of Austerlitz when Prince Andrei Bolkonsky is wounded. I loved the moment when his view changes from the chaos of battle to the serenity and vastness of the sky.


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 04, 2011 01:48PM) (new)

You wrote, "This book is filled with so many great, memorable moments”
Yes, indeed. Great. Poetic. Philosophical. Horrible. Some of those pearls are so tiny, just a few lines. Still remain long in memory. I especially like short lyrical ones. As Petya’s dream, for example (right before the battle at which he was killed). [Such dreams happen to me sometimes, that’s probably why :) ].
Or, do you remember that episode when Natasha and Nikolai were leaving their uncle and then, afterwards, their dialogue in the carriage?
And, of course, it’s hard to rid memory of those horrible scenes as shooting at the pole in Moscow, or the French soldier running past Pierre with the smoking gun just after having shot Platon Karataev..
I found that after rereading any part of the novel, new pearls are discovered.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

you wrote: "There is also the scene where Natasha starts to dance at the uncle's house."

Yes. That's exactly the scene that proceeded the episode that I mentioned a bit earlier.
Do you remember what Natasha felt when they were with Nikolai in the carriage leaving their uncle?


message 4: by Ben (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ben When it ended.

Sorry, not one of my favorites.


Nathan Hodson I like it.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

What made you plow to the end then?


Nathan Hodson The sheer joy of reading it.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, sorry Nathan - that I can understand.
Actually, I was asking Ben. He didn't like it, still kept reading to the end. And not a thin book at that.


message 9: by Nathan (last edited Oct 04, 2011 03:42PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nathan Hodson Yeah, I know. I pulled it off the shelf, it fell on my toe and broke it. It should have one of those warning stickers that you find on appliance boxes: "Lift With Legs", or "Assistance Required". I would even settle for "Caution. Heavy Object." 1400 pages, seriously. That thing probably could stop Gamma Rays.


Marianne My favorite moment (and I won't be able to quote it verbatim) is when Nikolai is in his first battle and has his horse blown out from under him. As he is running, terrified, across the smokey field, dodging cannon fire, it suddenly occurs to him -- "They're trying to KILL me!" which is immediately followed by "Why would anyone try to kill me? Everybody LIKES me!" I have always found that to be a very humorous but poignant moment. The undiluted realization that there's more to war than "playing war". That war isn't glorious fun and games but rather there are real enemies, strangers who don't even know you or how likeable you are, who really want to kill you. And it simply goes on from there, deeper and deeper realizations about war and life and people and what really matters.


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

Lisa Marianne, you are very smart and have a wonderful sense of humor. Thank you for reminding me of that hilarious and poignant moment. War and Peace is my favorite story ever! I read it at a very difficult time in my life and it centered me. I hope to read it again when I can be in a different place emotionally and enjoy it from a different perspective.


message 12: by Huw (new) - rated it 5 stars

Huw Evans I found the surrealism of the battle scene extraordinary. The fact that it was a spectator sport for the wealthy whilst thousands of men were fighting for their lives is beautifully described


Laurel Hicks What a great discussion question! Now I have all sorts of scenes running through my mind. I think I'll settle for just about any scene with Pierre in it, except that terrifying drinking at the open window bit. I think it might be Pierre coming to Natasha after her attempted elopement. And of course, Pierre in Moscow as it's burning. This book is a world full of living beings.


Galvanize Press Marianne wrote: "My favorite moment (and I won't be able to quote it verbatim) is when Nikolai is in his first battle and has his horse blown out from under him. As he is running, terrified, across the smokey field..."

That is my favourite moment too.


message 15: by Deedee (new) - added it

Deedee Galvanize wrote: "Marianne wrote: "My favorite moment (and I won't be able to quote it verbatim) is when Nikolai is in his first battle and has his horse blown out from under him. As he is running, terrified, across..."

Mine also. I have Rosemund Edmunds' translation and it says:

"Rostov thinks to himself: Who are they? Are they coming at me? Can they be running at me? And why? To kill me? ME? Me, whom everyone is so fond of?"

I'm about a third of the way through this read. (I had read it originally about 30 years ago ....). I'm sure I'll have more comments when I'm further along.


Marianne Deedee wrote: "Galvanize wrote: "Marianne wrote: "My favorite moment (and I won't be able to quote it verbatim) is when Nikolai is in his first battle and has his horse blown out from under him. As he is running,..." Thank you for the quote! I may have been getting a little of the movie War and Peace (Bondarchuk's Russian version) mixed up in my original post. ;)


Andre When Petya is shot in the head, and the contrast between Dolokhov and Denisov's reaction. I could not help feeling self-satisfied when the little shit died.

And every scene involving Dolokhov in general.


message 18: by Jeff (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jeff Hanson One of my favorite scenes was when Nicholas and Natasha and company visit the neighbors along with the other visiting Mummers. The chase through the winter landscape--the snow, the magic in the air--it was like a dream, but brought all that holiday spirit to life.


message 19: by Vik (new) - added it

Vik Rubenfeld I love all the moments mentioned by others here, and would add the moment when Petya finds himself composing music. "Droplets dripped." "And maybe it's *my* music!"


Jason Brown I think my favourite moment was Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky describing other nations in comparison to Russia. But i did like the OP's favourite moment too.


Steve Maser For me its the scene of Andrei's return home after Austerlitz. Also the scene in the tent after he's wounded at Borodino. Pierre's confrontation with his wife after the duel. Nikolai Rostov's meeting with his father after losing the 40,000 roubles. So many, many others. My favorite book.


Michael Dawes Honestly, one of my favorite scenes was that of the abandonment and burning of Moscow, described in such brilliance by Tolstoy in his use of a dying beehive (one that has lost her queen) as a most heart-wrenching illustration. I have never been to Russia, never experienced their passionate culture and never even had a friend of Russian descent, but that description of the burning of that great and historic city brought me to my knees with love...love for something I've never seen or experienced myself.


Stewart Hennessey Natasha's dance stayed with me. It is a simple bit of narrative yet it imparts a joy - bliss, even - which I relive whenever it's mentioned, as it was above - an astonishing fragment of literature.

I know it's a cheesey moment but Natasha and Pierre smiling at each other in Moscow, as they flee their separate ways before Napoleon arrives, does it for me.

However, perhaps the strangest moment - if it can be called a 'moment' - is the burning of Moscow. That section is arguably one of the spookiest achievements in literature; the way you find yourself feeling sad for the physical city, as opposed to merely its inhabitants. And that sadness blurs into a powerful feeling of sadness about all loss, in times of war and peace.


message 24: by Josh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Josh Karaczewski I loved how ridiculous Tolstoy made Napoleon.


Navjeetsingh I loved the book from cover to cover, of-course including whatever comes in-between. .

The book is life. As all old die so do all old characters of book die and all young ones get married just as it happens some get wrongly married and hence remarry. All grow and become matured including the reader who, as the book comes to the end, starts considering himself to be an inseparable part of the book just as he's inseparable of life. It's not a book . It's life.

There are many moments and many more lines that i love and have got engraved in my memory.


Hussam Ali I don't recall the exact volume or chapter. But my favorite part has been the moment when Sonia relieved Nicholas of his pledge to marry her. I guess that was the peak of sacrifice and self denial.


message 27: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa That part made me so sad. She loved him so much.


message 28: by Adam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Adam Large Early on with Dolokhov, Anatole, Pierre and the bear. The bit where Dolokhov sits on the ledge and drinks a hole bottle of spirits (I'm remembering rum, but it would make more sense if it was vodka). Amazing chapter.

More generally I liked how I gradually fell in love with Natasha Rostova until she goes to the opera and 'falls in love' with Anatole. After that chapter I became irritated and disliked Natasha, but for the exact reasons I liked her in the first place. I thought that was pretty difficult/all but impossible to pull off.


message 29: by Hock (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hock Tjoa I couldn't get into the book for the longest time--daunted by it's length, I suppose. But I just finished it a couple of months ago and now I am eager to re-read it. Perhaps in that new translation that has had rave reviews.


Marius Pontmercy "My favorite moment was in Book Three, during the Battle of Austerlitz when Prince Andrei Bolkonsky is wounded. I loved the moment when his view changes from the chaos of battle to the serenity and vastness of the sky. "

I am re-reading the book now, and found a similar scene, when the Hussars (with Nikolai Rostov) are trying to destroy the bridge in Enns, while under French fire.

Another one of the scenes I liked was Pierre being led by Anna Mikhailovna through the back door and dark corridors of the palace of his dying father. He not understanding the need to hurry and just following old woman who will a few pages later save his entire fortune.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Mickey wrote: "This book is filled with so many great, memorable moments. I'm interested in hearing other people's favorites.

My favorite moment was in Book Three, during the Battle of Austerlitz when Prince And..."



Dafer Abdulhaq wolves hunting ... one of the sharpest moment in the novel , and the dinner in that night.. Nicola and Natasha...

its not the favorite ... but its really too clear


message 33: by D (new) - rated it 5 stars

D Cox Any time Denisov speaks! Lol. It's ben a while since I read it but stuck in my memory like bits of a film are: the sky bit others are saying. The narrative end when the next generation are playing soldiers and I just wanted to shake them and say "have you learned nothing!"


Noah P Mickey wrote: "This book is filled with so many great, memorable moments. I'm interested in hearing other people's favorites.

My favorite moment was in Book Three, during the Battle of Austerlitz when Prince And..."


Mickey, I realize I'm about a year late on this. I have two:
1) Pierre's duel with Dolokhov. The one time I was in a room where a gun was drawn, things progressed much like that duel. Pierre moves without really thinking, and manages through some stroke of grace to stay alive.

2) Prince Andrey's first interaction with Rostov. Rostov, then a young soldier, is bragging about his war record, making numerous assumptions about Prince Andrey and his grit. Prince Andrey responds coolly that he, Prince Andrey, is a very easy person to ridicule. He has no need to brag. No need to explain to this youth that he has and will continue to see the horrors of war. For me, it was the most telling scene about both characters.


message 35: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian The old prince making the serfs put the snow back out on the drive once he realised they had taken the snow off because Vassili and Anatole were arriving.


Pranav My favourite are the realisations that Andrew has at the battle of borodino, that love doesn't require an object. Also, lot other places where Tolstoy is saying something; to mention one: "He did what heroes do after after their task is accomplished, he died."


message 37: by Martha (last edited Mar 07, 2013 07:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Martha So many favorites, I agree! I am going to make a repeat. I loved the scene where Natasha and Nicholas were at the Uncle's house and she was dancing. When they were leaving, the description of her happiness that night and her happiness right then and there was priceless. Something most of us can relate to at some time in our lives. I love this book!! It is number one on my list and will be forever! Tolstoy's writing is the best, period!!


message 38: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian There is so much great stuff in this book. Aside from Natasha's dance and the old prince stuff with the snow, the scene with Dolokhov and his riding crop before he murders the prisoners will stay with me forever.


Pranav Ian wrote: "There is so much great stuff in this book. Aside from Natasha's dance and the old prince stuff with the snow, the scene with Dolokhov and his riding crop before he murders the prisoners will stay w..."

Could you explain the scene, i seem to not recollect what it was exactly? Was it where Petya gets killed ?


message 40: by Martha (last edited Mar 10, 2013 06:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Martha Ian, I can't remember that-- when did this happen? Oh, I don't want to start forgetting anything. The scene with Timokhin where Dolokhov kills a frenchman and begs the regimental commander with Major Ekonomov to remember this episode and shows the two trophies? This is the same fellow who did the drinking game with Pierre on the ledge outside the window. That is a scene I will never forget. It kept me holding my breath until the scene was over.


message 41: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian It is quite late. Over several chapters, Denisov and Dolokhov plan to attack a retreating French column, and then they do. Little Rostov is killed and French prisoners, including Pierre, are rescued. The French prisoners are jaunty at the war being, for them, over, but then they see Dolokhov thwacking his riding crop and they start to suspect that this will not end well. As Dolokhov has already told Denisov that he does not hold with keeping prisoners alive, we know the prisoners are right to suspect that they are not long for the world.


message 42: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian on the other hand I do not remember this thing about the trophies.


Sudheer Kumar Abandoned Moscow welcoming Napoleon to an absolutely rude shock!!!

the book really picked up in pace since then...:)


message 44: by Leigh Ann (last edited Mar 04, 2014 09:28AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leigh Ann Thornton Jeff wrote: "One of my favorite scenes was when Nicholas and Natasha and company visit the neighbors along with the other visiting Mummers. The chase through the winter landscape--the snow, the magic in the ai..."

That's my favorite scene, too. I was trying to find it in my copy of the book, but I can't locate it.


message 45: by Jeff (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jeff Hanson Book 7, 1810-11, Chapter IX


Robert The aspect I loved that flowed through the entire novel was the historical analysis. While he was highly critical of Napoleon the majority of the characterizations of real historical figures like Kutzov or Murat were not far off their mark. At the end I took away that Tolstoy contended no one person created history. The Napoleons and Alexanders of the world are not the larger than life figures history presents, they are not the molders and shapers of the present and future wielding impossible power and influence with a foresight and vision to accomplish their national or global ends. History is in fact not “created” but rather is the result of hundreds, thousands of individual actions performed by individual players.

The specific episode / scene that I think stuck with me more than others was Pierre’s time as a prisoner of war and the death of Prince Andrei. I remember after reading to the end of his death I closed the book and couldn’t bring myself to read anymore that day.


James Powell It's been years since I read this novel. You guys have inspired me to have another go at it.

Now, your recommended translation is . . .


Kelsey Andrey looking at the lofty sky is definitely the stand-out moment of the book for me.

To that I would add the moment when Andrey (who has been obsessed with finding Anatole and creating a pretense to duel with him, in order not to tarnish Natasha's reputation) is dying in the field hospital and looks over to see Anatole having his leg gorily amputated. Man.

Other moments!

- Pierre in captivity, looking at the stars and realizing "all this is in me... and they took it and locked it in a shed!" (Really well-done in the Russian film.)

- The execution of the rioters in Moscow, with everyone (including the executioners) horrified at what they're doing but unable to stop. Later when Pierre sees that same force at play, when the formerly-friendly French captors turn back into uncaring-undistinguishable soldiers.

- Pierre trying so hard to free his serfs that he only makes their lives worse, while Andrey (who had scorned the idea) makes it happen no problem. Haha!

- When Nikolai Rostov realizes that everyone bullshits about what war's really like, because the unromantic reality isn't what anyone else wants to hear.

- Nikolai's admiration for Sonya's fake mustache on the Troika ride.

Sooo many good moments.


Roshan Marlon Chapter where Petya and Dolohov go to french camp to collect intel for next day battle.


message 50: by Leon (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leon For me it is probably the death of Andrej Bolkonski.
It is described so tenderly, so insightful that I had the feeling to understand dying. How it might feel to die. What thoughts are going around in your head.
The great authors have this unique perspective on the world and it's people in it. And when reading Tolstoy I always have the feeling to see things from a new perspective.
The death scene was a truly magic moment for me. I felt sad as I felt for the character, but it was also so beautiful.
The magic of Tolstoy lays for me in his ability to make you feel, feel with the characters and thus understand them.
Like in Anna Karenina. We are never given a specific order of events that lead to her suicide yet you feel with her and feel that you understand her on an emotional level.


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