Image Courtesy of Random House

War and Peace

by Leo Tolstoy (1869)

War and Peace, a Russian novel by Leo Tolstoy, is considered one of the world's greatest works of fiction. It is regarded, along with Anna Karenina (1873–1877), as his finest literary achievement. Epic in scale, War and Peace delineates in graphic detail events leading up to Napoleon's invasion of Russia, and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society, as seen through the eyes of five Russian aristocratic families.

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  • In her letters to Tolstoy, Sophia described life at home in his absence: baby Seryozha had the croup: "If you could only see how pathetic he was. He was crying, suffocating; when the mustard burned him, he jerked his little feet, grabbed my hair, pulled at my earrings and my collar, as if he was trying to crawl inside me and was begging to be saved … How many thoughts I thought last night; how much I loved you." She described how she made poultices and rubbed Seryozha with warm oil to make him sweat. In the morning, when the doctor arrived, she went outside for the first time in several days. The grass was glistening in the sun. Sister Tanya returned from a ride, looking "smart, fresh, and charming in her velvet jacket and motley-feathered hat. I envied her, thinking that you would be impressed, and this frightened me a bit. For I am unattractive, tired-looking, and too inelegant." But Tolstoy did not want her elegant: he imagined her in a gray robe, nursing the baby behind a screen. In the epilogue of War and Peace, he would use that letter to depict Natasha in Pierre's absence. He asked Sophia to keep a separate diary when he hunted, saying he would read it upon his return. It was a pleasure for her to write the three-day diary, conversing with Tolstoy.

    Alexandra PopoffSophia Tolstoy

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  • The Ghosts of Martyrs Square

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  • Moscow 1941

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  • Autobiography of a Wardrobe

    2008
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