Although I initially began reading War and Peace (Vintage Classics) in 2007, I only read a few chapters. Then, last year, I returned to War and Peace. Simply put, War and Peace is the best book I ever read.
In addition to having a hard copy version of, I bought the Kindle version too. I found the Kindle version invaluable because I was constantly clicking on the endnotes to read the French translations and other information provided by the translaters Pevear and Volokhonsky. I should note that the Russian text was translated to English and the French text portions were left unaltered. However, endnotes were provided.
Having enjoyed War and Peace, I then decided that I would read Anna Karenina (Oprah's Book Club) (Russian Classics) this year. I did, and, once again, I enjoyed Tolstoy's books immensely.
Rather than attempt to do the book justice by providing my book review, I will instead point to you to Amazon's site where others have provided their input as well as to a Is "Anna Karenina" a Love Story?, an article by Joshua Rothman in The New Yorker. Rothman's review is excellent.
In my reading of the book, I found that Everything has changed, Nothing has changed. By that seemingly odd statement, I mean that communication, transportation, and modern conveniences have changed tremendously; however, people themselves haven't changed at all. We fall victim to the same traps that we always have.
I also enjoy Tolstoy's discussion of those who worked the land and those who worked in the cities pushing paper. Farmers often felt those in the city didn't do meaningful work. And those in the city often felt a special bond with the farmers. I heard those same discussions when working in the oil industry. Those in the field often didn't appreciate those who worked in offices. And those at head office often felt that the field personnel were more honest, direct. Nothing has changed.
The same could be said for the introduction of new technologies. Although the oil industry today is more progressive than it was in the past, I found that many people often resisted new technologies and methodologies. After all, the previous methods worked well for decades, so why change now?
Stepping away from work related matters, I found interesting too that simplicity of design was treasured back then as well. On page 617, Tolstoy wrote the following.
Anna had changed into a very simple cambric dress. Dolly looked attentively at this simple dress. She knew what such simplicity meant and what money was paid for it.
The book is full of parellels to our daily lives, yet this book was set during the 1870s, nearly 150 years ago. So much has changed, yet nothing has changed.
After reading both War and Peace and Anna Karenina, I have come to admire and appreciate Leo Tolstoy. He was truly a genius beyond comprehension. In his books, by touching on a varied array of topics--from religion to sciences--he demonstrated a wide breadth of knowledge. And the books themselves are large and complicated literary works. It's hard to believe in today's cut and paste world that someone could have written such lengthy books.
When I began Anna Karenina, I was unaware of the movie by the same title. Now, the movie should be that much more interesting.
Both War and Peace and Anna Karenina are literary classics that deserve to be read. I enjoyed each of them and plan to read them again. I hope you read them at least once yourself.