War and Peace is a Russian Classic published by Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy otherwise known as Leo Tolstoy.
The likelihood is, anyone who have scrolled through a Top Books of All-time list, or Must Reads would have come across War and Peace.
Some suspect Tolstoy modeled the characters in the book from his own family members.
War and Peace comprises of 4 books, so it is not a short read. Exploring Russia in the 19th century the book will draw you in to see why it is often cited as one of the best books of all time.
Without a doubt, you will end up being a fan of Tolstoy.
From prices, to frauds, to affairs, in this article, we will explore 7 reasons why you should read Leo Tolstoy’s classis novel War and Peace.
Should you read “War and Peace”?
Reading “War and Peace” can be a huge challenge, because the plot is complex, there are many characters and it’s definitely not a book for beginners. However, if you are willing to sacrifice your time and effort, it will be definitely worth it.
Why War and Peace might not be for everyone?
Before you choose this book you should ask yourself a few questions.
Do you have enough time to read the book? War and Peace will need you to dedicate a certain level of time and focus to truly appreciate the story. Not everyone’s schedule will allow for this length of a book. Do you have a hectic work schedule?
I believe some people will be too tired to read War and Peace, if you don’t read it for a long time. You may actually forget who some of the characters are. So if you are a student with a hectic schedule opt for something else.
Are you looking for a complex story or an easy story which aid escapism? Those who are not looking for a long sprawling story should probably seek alternative options.
If you have just begun reading frequently then potentially also this is not the book for you. Russian novels are often complex, with many characters and scenarios. For those who are easing themselves into reading there may be better options.
If you haven’t read many books, or you’re only not just getting back into practice. It may be worth saving War & Peace for another time.
If however, you are a big reader and are not deterred by a challenge. Then I say go ahead and read War and Peace. It will take a long time to complete, no one is doubting that. But in the end you will understand why it is pushed so vehemently.
7 Reasons to Read War and Peace
1. War and Peace will help you understand modern day Russia
One of the best ways to make sense of modern Russia to engage with its literature. From the beginning scene where an upper-class man tries to ignore who he believes to be a lower-class man. You gain an insight into the social dynamics present in 18th-century Russian life.
Putin has openly stated his admiration of Tolstoy and is linked to the family today. He actually recommends that Russians read Tolstoy. So why not read one of Putin’s recommendation’s and see how it is.
Luckily for readers of War and Peace, Tolstoy did extensive research which led to an extremely realistic view of Russia being portrayed in the book.
Amazingly, Tolstoy also manages to do this in other books that have a very different vibe to War and Peace such as Anna Karenina.
2. You would have completed a long-winded classic
There is a certain level of personal pride that comes with completing a difficult task. Reading the classics is just one of those things. Unlike, A Christmas Carol. War and Peace was written for adults so isn’t the easiest book to complete. Many people have started and put down the book.
Length being one reason. Difficulty being another. War and Peace isn’t exceptionally hard, just long. But if you stick through it, you won’t be like those many people.
You would have shown perseverance and stuck to it, and then after that. You get to formulate your own opinion. You won’t have to rely on other people to tell you the storyline as you would have read it yourself.
3. Your tastes in literature will change
Completing War and Peace will open up a new world of literature to you. You will be more open to other works not only by Tolstoy but also, other Russian novelists. Now you may find Dostoevsky and Turgenev less dominating. Or, you may want to complete Tolstoy’s bibliography.
You may even be drawn toward central European authors such as Kafka. It doesn’t matter you would have opened up a new world of books.
Maybe, after completing War and Peace, you will become more intrigued by Napoleon, and the French Revolution. Or, perhaps it will be the Russian Revolution which intrigues you. Or the rise of the Soviet Union. Many tangents may take place.
4. It will help you appreciate the time you live in
I think we take it for granted that we do not have to fight on battlefields. Mothers do not have to part ways with their sons never to see them again. The scene in which the prince is on the battlefield is rare as it is not a scene that you’re likely to read in modern day books.
It also gets the reader realizing that this would have been the final scene for many men. Looking up on a battlefield ready to die, or dying slowly.
The relationship between life and death is something that is frequently explored in Tolstoy’s literature. It also comes up in Anna Karenina, The Death of Ivan Ilych. and Resurrection.
Take Anna Karenina and the death of one of the brothers. This death seems to be reflective of a death Tolstoy experienced in his own life when one of his siblings died. His own uncles were commanders.
Russia still places a peacekeeping role, look at their recent involvement in Armenia September 2020.
5. You will come to terms with the complexity of human nature
This is the beauty of Tolstoy. He isn’t a simplistic author. There is no Agatha Christie clear such end.
Even though he was a deeply religious man, Tolstoy was excommunicated from the church. He was seen as extreme for his time. Modern day readers are unlikely to see him as extreme but he will indeed have you question a few things.
6. You get to explore the the diversity of private life
Why do people fall in love? What makes you susceptible to caring for one person but not caring for another?
You won’t necessarily find the answers to these questions in War and Peace, but you will get the opportunity to ponder upon them.
One character in War and Peace is prone to falling in love with anyone. She fails to gain happiness from her own life so seeks fulfilment in the attention and adoration of others.
Another character plays stupid and reaps all of the benefits. Another character looks down upon people not on the same ‘level’.
7. You will be engaged with the Russian nobility
The Tolstoy’s were not a poor family, in fact they were part of Russia’s upper echelon. Their ancestry in Russia dates all the way back to the 1300’s, and they were well respected across the country. The House of Tolstoy was established in the 14th century.
During Tolstoy’s lifetime, he was not only well read in Russia but also in Sweden. There in Sweden, they nominated him for 5 Nobel peace prizes in literature.
Still a prominent family today with much wealth their occupations range from journalists to government advisors.
Is it hard to read War and Peace?
It can be, the first thing you will have to consider is that the story is not meant to be simple.
You will also have to consider the translation as some translations are known as being easier than others. Also, Tolstoy himself was an extremely rich man and was well-read, therefore, his casual language may not have been exactly simple.
How long does it take to read War and Peace?
It will take as long as you dedicate yourself, it could even take more than a year. With the size of the book and the size of the text it is not farfetched to presume it could take someone a very long time to finish War and Peace.
Is War and Peace a true story?
War and Peace is a novel, but it does explore current events that took place close to the time the book was written. This is why you will learn about history just through reading the book. Some events do spin-off into fictional endings so it is always worthwhile double checking.
A fiction book which explore real current Russian events.
Hopefully, this article has helped you see more clearly as to whether it is worth it or not for you to read War and Peace. Whilst it is a great novel, it may not be ideal for those only just delving into literature.
Let us know in the comments if you will be taking on War and Peace or not. And if you have already read the classic, what did you think?