War and Peace: A Norton Critical Edition / Edition 2 available in Paperback
The text of this revised Norton Critical Edition of Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel is based on the Louise and Aylmer Maude translation. The editor has made revisions where appropriate; the annotations have also been revised and expanded. Three maps of Napoleon’s campaigns and battles in Russia are included, making the military aspects of the novel easier to follow.
"Backgrounds and Sources" includes the publication history of War and Peace, selections from Tolstoy’s letters and diaries as well as three drafts of his introduction to the novel that elucidate the its evolution, and an 1868 article by Tolstoy in which he reacts to his critics.
"Criticism" includes twenty essays, seven of them new, that provide diverse perspectives on the novel by Nikolai Strakhov, V. I. Lenin, Henry James, Isaiah Berlin, D. S. Mirsky, Kathryn Feuer, Lydia Ginzburg, Richard Gustafson, Gary Saul Morson, and Caryl Emerson, among others.
A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.
About the Author
Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), a giant of world literature, is the author of many classics, including War and Peace and Anna Karenina.
George Gibian was Goldwin Smith Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. His honors include Fulbright, Guggenheim, American Philosophical Society, and Rockefeller Foundation fellowships. He was the author of The Man in the Black Coat: Russia’s Lost Literature of the Absurd, The Interval of Freedom: Russian Literature During the Thaw, and Tolstoj and Shakespeare. He was the editor of the Norton Critical Editions of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and War and Peace, and Gogol’s Dead Souls, and of the Viking Penguin Portable Nineteenth-Century Russian Reader. Professor Gibian’s articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, the Christian Science Monitor, and Newsday, among others.
Date of Birth:September 9, 1828
Date of Death:November 20, 1910
Place of Birth:Tula Province, Russia
Place of Death:Astapovo, Russia
Education:Privately educated by French and German tutors; attended the University of Kazan, 1844-47
Read an Excerpt
WELL, PRINCE, Genoa and Lucca are now no more than private estates of the Bonaparte family. No, I warn you, that if you do not tell me we are at war, if you again allow yourself to palliate all the infamies and atrocities of this Antichrist (upon my word, I believe he is), I don’t know you in future, you are no longer my friend, no longer my faithful slave, as you say. There, how do you do, how do you do? I see I’m scaring you, sit down and talk to me.”
These words were uttered in July 1805 by Anna Pavlovna Scherer, a distinguished lady of the court, and confidential maid-of-honour to the Empress Marya Fyodorovna. It was her greeting to Prince Vassily, a man high in rank and office, who was the first to arrive at her soirée. Anna Pavlovna had been coughing for the last few days; she had an attack of la grippe, as she said—grippe was then a new word only used by a few people. In the notes she had sent round in the morning by a footman in red livery, she had written to all indiscriminately:
“If you have nothing better to do, count (or prince), and if the prospect of spending an evening with a poor invalid is not too alarming to you, I shall be charmed to see you at my house between 7 and 10. Annette Scherer.”
“Heavens! what a violent outburst!” the prince responded, not in the least disconcerted at such a reception. He was wearing an embroidered court uniform, stockings and slippers, and had stars on his breast, and a bright smile on his flat face.
He spoke in that elaborately choice French, in which our forefathers not only spoke but thought, and with those slow, patronising intonations peculiar to aman of importance who has grown old in court society. He went up to Anna Pavlovna, kissed her hand, presenting her with a view of his perfumed, shining bald head, and complacently settled himself on the sofa.
“First of all, tell me how you are, dear friend. Relieve a friend’s anxiety,” he said, with no change of his voice and tone, in which indifference, and even irony, was perceptible through the veil of courtesy and sympathy.
“How can one be well when one is in moral suffering? How can one help being worried in these times, if one has any feeling?” said Anna Pavlovna. “You’ll spend the whole evening with me, I hope?”
“And the fête at the English ambassador’s? To-day is Wednesday. I must put in an appearance there,” said the prince. “My daughter is coming to fetch me and take me there.”
“I thought to-day’s fête had been put off. I confess that all these festivities and fireworks are beginning to pall.”
“If they had known that it was your wish, the fête would have been put off,” said the prince, from habit, like a wound-up clock, saying things he did not even wish to be believed.
“Don’t tease me. Well, what has been decided in regard to the Novosiltsov dispatch? You know everything.”
“What is there to tell?” said the prince in a tired, listless tone. “What has been decided? It has been decided that Bonaparte has burnt his ships, and I think that we are about to burn ours.”
Prince Vassily always spoke languidly, like an actor repeating his part in an old play. Anna Pavlovna Scherer, in spite of her forty years, was on the contrary brimming over with excitement and impulsiveness. To be enthusiastic had become her pose in society, and at times even when she had, indeed, no inclination to be so, she was enthusiastic so as not to disappoint the expectations of those who knew her. The affected smile which played continually about Anna Pavlovna’s face, out of keeping as it was with her faded looks, expressed a spoilt child’s continual consciousness of a charming failing of which she had neither the wish nor the power to correct herself, which, indeed, she saw no need to correct.
What People are Saying About This
"This is, at last, a translation of War and Peace without the dreadful misunderstandings and "improvements" that plague all other translations of the novel into English. Pevear and Volokhonsky not only render the meanings and nuances of Tolstoy's language faithfully and beautifully, they also strive to transmit the structure and feel of his prose, down to the level of individual sentences and phrases (as much as the constraints of English allow)."--(Vladimir E. Alexandrov, B. E. Bensinger Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Chair, Slavic Department, Yale University)
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Reading Group Guide
Often called the greatest novel ever written, War and Peace is at once an epic of the Napoleonic Wars, a philosophical study, and a celebration of the Russian spirit. Tolstoy’s genius is seen clearly in the multitude of characters in this massive chronicle—all of them fully realized and equally memorable. Out of this complex narrative emerges a profound examination of the individual’s place in the historical process, one that makes it clear why Thomas Mann praised Tolstoy for his Homeric powers and placed War and Peace in the same category as the Iliad: “To read him . . . is to find one’s way home . . . to everything within us that is fundamental and sane.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is long, long, long. But it's worth every minute you put into it. Read it twice if you have spare time. There's a reason everyone talks about it. It's that good.
Excellent translation. Great 'extras' ie author notes, critical commentary, maps.
This is a wonderful book that describes mankind to its climax! Tolstoy knows how to pursuade his readers to follow his path with Russian history! Wow! Although some parts are boring, but most parts are so beautifully described! I am Speechless!