10 Things You Need to Know about War and Peace

10 Things You Need to Know about
War and Peace
Love comes into it
Anyone who tells you that you can skip
the “War” parts and only read the
“Peace” parts is an idiot.
It’s quite a long novel, but not absurdly long
You are going to disagree with Tolstoy
The book has the worst opening
sentence of any major novel
The rhythm of life
This is not a historical novel
The novel has a particular technical feature
There is no hero and no heroine
People change
The characters in War and Peace endure extreme experiences,
and emerge at the end as quite different people.
This is the story of a group of people living within a
society. Andrey Bolkonsky is not Tolstoy’s hero, and
Natasha is not a romantic heroine.
It forgives ideas of heroism
It passes from mind to mind, showing us the world
as a consciousness moves through it.
It is just how these events were seen by one particular
observer, and another observer will take up the baton
in a page or two.
But a novel that discusses events of the recent past
within the memory of many of Tolstoy’s first readers.
You will like some characters more than others, and there will be long stretches where a character you used to like irritates or frustrates you.
Other characters will engage your sympathy over time; you may be deeply surprised, by the end, by who you want to spend most time with.
It understands, as James Buchan once wrote,
that love is the circus hoop through which history
is made to leap again and again.
The bits that interest you personally and the
bits that you find of only abstract curiosity are
going to change when you read the book at 20,
and again at 50.
You’ll read War and Peace in 10 days, maximum.
Many people find the first 100 pages dauntingly full of
characters, and only then does it seem to smooth out and become lucid.
To almost everyone’s amazement, by the time they
reach the end of the First Epilogue, with its overwhelming
sense of life continuing and proliferating, new possibilities of thought opening up
No question. Not only that, you will almost certainly
start to think that his own book disagrees with him.
It also has the very worst closing sentence by a country mile,
which you will have to read four times before deciding that its
proposition is perfect nonsense.