Tolstoy's genius is clearly seen 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.
War and Peace was translated by Constance Garrett. Glad I finally decided to read it I downloaded a free study guide off the web and that helped me keep the characters straight in the beginning.
A Work of genius I first read the book when in High School many years ago. Only now do I realize that much of the complexity and substance had escaped my first encounter. This is a timeless classic and a work of genius.
Subscribers asked for a better narrated version of the awesome War and Peace, ” and quietly Audible recently offered this superb rendition. The narration is excellent and unlike the droning Zimmerman, Frederick Davidson brings the material and the characters to life.
My opinion of Audible has risen substantially, and I am thoroughly enjoying one of the greatest novels ever written. Five stars doesn't say it My limited experience doesn't have a class for War and Peace.
I rattled off a list of reputable authors and how I like them at first, citing it sort of to demonstrate my taste; ultimately I deleted it because even all those invocations of classicism didn't express my newfound reverence for Tolstoy. I liked it so much that, ruefully, I'm trying to write such a glowing review that people reading will think I must throw “five stars” around all the time, and they'll be wrong: Tolstoy not only snatched the Favorite Book trophy, he ran off with it for half a mile.
In fact, I'd be surprised if any significant statistic of people liked it as I do, but I'd wager on anybody loving it sooner than her hating it. I don't think Frederick Davidson will remain my favorite narrator once I've heard more than two.
Other than that, he slipped up only once in the whole work, mixing up two characters voices in one conversation. Last thing, if you don't like history/philosophy/philosophy of history/lengthy tangents thereon, beware.
War and Peace This is an experience everyone should have at least once in a lifetime -- and, with luck, multiple times. Listen and read simultaneously for even more exquisite hours.
I happen to belong to the second class, and I believe he is especially suited for this novel. However, if you find his voice as irritating as some other reviewers, you should probably go for another version.
In “The Brothers Karamazov”, Dostoevsky writes: “Show a Russian schoolboy a map of the stars, which he knows nothing about, and he will give you back the map next day with corrections on it.” Tolstoy is the ideal to which all such schoolboys aspire, and War and Peace is his greatest achievement.
Not only is this immense work a novel, it is a place for Tolstoy to expound his views on the causes and persons of the Napoleonic wars, on the methods of historical research, on free will and (of course) the existence of God. I can't say that I found everything convincing or even interesting -- for example, he takes a lot of pains to demonstrate the Napoleon was not a military genius but a blundering fool -- but for the sheer complexity and ambition of this work I cannot help but award it five stars.
I did not expect to like W&P (in fact, I downloaded it only because I was stuck in bed for a length of time and wanted to joke that I was so bored that I read/listened to W&P), but it's become one of my favorite listens. On one level it's a riveting 19th century soap opera, with breaks for philosophical treatises rather than commercials.
Then there's Tolstoy's brilliant expression of his psychological insight. What I studied at university (70s, 80s,) as the “new” historiography was actually expressed better by Tolstoy than the postmodern I read.
Tolstoy sometimes changes his prose style to reflect his characters mentality does he not? Tolstoy has the unique ability to move from the high to the low seamlessly.
His treatment of his character’s psychology is nuanced without being pretentious. And lastly, his grasp of the philosophy behind human events is stunning, though decidedly debatable.
Plot-wise, there are few novels that leave me feeling that everything that happened was inevitable without second guessing the author. This novel, though sprawling and complex, has a feeling of self-contained inevitability.
Tolstoy develops his main character, Pierre from a seeming oaf in a prissy drawing room, through mystical insanity to a final solidity in his final married life. Indeed, it seems that the peace of Pierre finds in the hearth is the proper counterpoint to the backdrop of war.” Other characters seem intensely real as well, from the duplicitous Keratin to the lively, pretty and impetuous Natalia.
These characters strike a chord of truth and grow to encompass their experiences. Though feeling inevitable in the novel, the Pierre- Natasha- Andre love triangle seems overly novelistic.
And Tolstoy has a propensity to preach for pages at an end. As to the reading, Davidson animates his characters, giving each a separate voice.
He does have a habit of pausing in the middle of sentences to take a breath, and emphasizing odd phrases. Great literature given justice; Entertaining as well as enlightening.
Other reviews here have noted some irritating qualities of his narration: fey, somewhat nasal, pseudo-posh, most sentences ending with a rising inflection, like a question. On the other hand, it should be said that his narration is always clear and energetic, and the characters are given immediately recognizable voices; in this particular case, given the length of the book, the recording is a good value for the money.
An incredible experience The book is amazingly good, Frederick Davidson is an excellent narrator too. A few times it looks like you're listening to a jumping vinyl record, but nothing that prevents you from having a wonderful experience.
So I go on the bus with my Freedom pass, and when people ask me what music I have on my iPod I'm delighted to tell them that it's War and Peace ! Poor Natasha The narrator has a good voice, but the characters are ruined in the most part by his rather annoying, if not incredibly grating, 'take' on the main players.
Pierre sounds vacuous, Andre half dead and the women simpering and worst of all what has he done to Natasha! So many people know about War and Peace and yet so few have read it, largely put off by its length and complexity of characters so having the book read to you is a happy compromise.
It is definitely a story worth knowing and not just for the kudos of being able to say you’ve read it! BUT, Tolstoy likes making sure his reader has understood the main points he is trying to get across, so he repeats them A LOT.
The end of the book is an epilogue in which Tolstoy talks (at great length) about the philosophy of written history and the futility of trying to distinguish between fact and fiction. It is without doubt the driest part of the novel as Tolstoy makes his thoughts clear very quickly (and to an extent has already expostulated on them throughout the main story), and then repeats and labors and repeats his point over and over again.
We get it Leo, history is written by the victors, let it go man! It took some time to get used to the narrator's implausibly upper-class accent, and he sounded like a stereotypical 'Thespian', but you've certainly got time to get used to it given the length of the book so after a while you can tune out the dodgy accents and stop laughing at his impression of the female characters and just concentrate on the text.
Was War and Peace worth the listening time? 60 hours is a lot of time for anyone, but if it makes the difference between reading the story and not, it's worth the investment.
War and Peace deserves, at least in part, it's accolade of being the best novel ever written so for no more reason than being able to have an opinion on whether you think it is as great as it's famed to be, you should listen to it. I did learn a lot about the Napoleonic wars which I'd obviously slept through when we covered them in school so from a 'you should know this stuff' point of view, it's worth the listening time even if the genera isn't quite up your street. The quality of the editing and the digital download is immensely disappointing.
Many chapters have digital corruptions causing lots of 'jumps' between sections, sometimes it's obvious that only a word or two have been skipped, at other times it's possible that you've just jumped a large part of a chapter. Had I paid full price for this, I would definitely have been looking for my money back, but as this was my free introductory book from Audible, I could tolerate it.
That said, as it was my first introduction to the quality of audible's offerings, I did question whether all books would have similar problems. So far, it appears that most of the other books I've now listened to aren't quite so bug ridden, but like I say, if you intend to pay for this, don't, use one of your credits and get it for just under £8, it's worth that but not more.
Frederick Davidson Deserves A Higher Rating This is the narration to listen to if you want to be entertained. Neville Jason has a better rating but I don't think that I could have listened to him for 60 hours because he sounds so bored.
I am thoroughly enjoying this book and recommend to everyone that always wanted to but never had the time or the storage space. There are so many characters that come in and go out of the story (some never to return) that you do appreciate this and whether the accents match the characters at least the narrator is consistent in his portrayal which must be hard to do over a book this long.
The chapters are in nice short listenable units (10-15 minutes), which suits me personally as I listen on the way to and from work, and I would say I only found 2 or 3 which were missing a bookmark which is quite remarkable given the amount of chapters contained in the 15 books. If you are going to listen, its worth it, but I would put aside plenty of time.
An epic sweep of characters and history Brilliantly read by Davidson who has a great sense of pace and character. Excellent: when I got to the end I started again at the beginning and heard it through a second time.
I had read War and Peace about 40 years ago and my main memory is of lengthy ramblings by Bezukhov. Also, his various accents are very good (as far as I can judge...) Having just listened to a Dostoevsky whose narrator seems to speak no language except Yankee, this is most appreciated!.
Great work and excellent writing, but very hard to follow because of the difference between today's language and the way it is written. A struggle to listen to There seem to be two different objects in this book and the only thing connecting these two are the Napoleonic wars in Russia.