War and Peace Volume 1

I am attempting to read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and have managed to read the first of the four volumes of the book so far. The translation that I am reading is the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation which is very readable and there are plenty of footnotes to help you along with the reading which are much appreciated. What has surprised me most about this book is that there is quite a bit of it written in French, which did surprise me when I thought that the books was written in Russia but it appears that there is quite a lot of French in the book and also the French passages in this book are not translated in the body of the text but rather are printed in full and then translated to English in footnotes as the bottom of the page which can make for an interesting reading experience to say the least but is probably more like the original version of the book where the bulk of it was in Russian with the odd bit here and there in French. This book is not a particularly easy read, but, if you take your time, I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was that difficult a read either. Yes, there are lots and lots of characters, and it is difficult to remember all of them all of the time but as long as you know who is the focus of each chapter then it becomes a little easier to cope with.

The first volume introduces most of the main characters that are important to the plot and it is quite remarkable that they are all well drawn and each have their own separate personalities and you can full imagine who each of them are and what they look like which is great when you consider the Russian names, which are not always that easy to remember.. For quite a while the action takes place in dining rooms as plots are hatched between different characters and the upcoming war is discussed and alliances are made etc, etc.

The second half of the first volume concentrates on battles during the wars and this is described in great deal and not much is spared in these descriptions of the horror of war.

By the end of the first volume you have met all the main players and you have an idea of what the rest of the book is going to be like and you are getting use to the style of the book and the style of Tolstoy’s writing and you want to carry on reading the book, which I did have my reservations about when I started reading the book, but which have been totally unfounded as I am enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would, which is a pleasant surprise.

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