The Long Tale

Friday, November 23, 2007


Two new translations of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace came out this fall. It seems everyone agrees that the 460,000-word novel is a masterpiece, but does anyone actually read it? Newsweek's Malcolm Jones says it's worth your time.

Comments [10]

Emily from Chicago

This is my brother's favorite book, and he almost never reads any novels. It got him through many long empty nights as a security guard, though.

Jan. 30 2008 04:24 PM
Gleb Sidorkin from Brooklyn

A few weeks ago, I was browsing in St. Petersburg bookstore in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, and came upon an amazing sight: War and Peace on tape, in Russian, 52 cassettes, 72 hours, including copious historical 'footnotes' interspersed through the recording. I listen to it when I'm working out, and I'm on tape 11. I highly recommend the audio format as an efficient method of enjoying this wonderful novel. Also the ideological undertones of the soviet-era recording's 'footnotes' provide occasional hilarity. And all of you should learn Russian :)

Nov. 29 2007 11:46 AM
Melisa from Colorado

I'm reading this book right now and it could possibly be the best book I have ever read. I went straight to it after reading and LOVING "Anna Karenina" (which I would recommend for those of you scared off by the length as a starter on Tolstoy). Tolstoy, through his characters, has the most wonderful conversations with himself about every subject man has ever written about since written language came about: love, death, war, the afterlife, birth, family, love of country, religion, society vs. the individual, you name it! If you're scared of lugging it around, audible has a 2-part version downloadable on your mp3. Listen to it during your commute and you'll have it done in a month :) Then, watch Woody Allen's classic "Love and Death" to top off the Russian literature experience!

Nov. 26 2007 10:22 PM
Juliette from Oxfordshire England

In answer to Greg's request - Malcolm Jones recommended the translation by Richard Pevear and his wife Larissa Volokhonsky. I purchased the Vintage Classics edition which is a delight and has an excellent cover.

I belong to a reading group comitted to reading it and am really relishing the book. We are going to chunk it and discuss it as a Yahoo group.
War and Peace is also available on daily lit who send it in daily episodes to your email address.

Nov. 26 2007 01:05 PM
Paula O'Neal from Madison, WI

I have tried to read War and Peace but am not willing to give up so I too would like the names of the couple translators recommended on the show. Thanks

Nov. 26 2007 09:32 AM
Marilyn North from Long Beach, CA

After listening to the segment of your program on people who do, or do not, read "War and Peace", we were talking to our family about it. Our grandson, who graduated from Cal Berkeley last spring told us that he read it over the summer and enjoyed it very much. He was recruited by the Navy while he was attending Cal and went to Officer's Candidacy School in Newport, RI in July 2007 and graduated as an Ensign on November 9, 2007, and is home on leave until Nov. 30. His speciality is Nucleur Engineering. I thought you might be interested in finding another person who has actually read the book and enjoyed it.

Nov. 25 2007 11:20 PM
kiran mova from Boston, Massachussets

As someone suggested in this segment, I might read it after retirement. But I have been intrigued to learn about Leo Tolstoy's philosophy it by the recent coverage of this book on NPR and felt like I am missing out on something.

I found the russian 3 part video series from Kultur on War and Peace. It pretty much gives the essence of the book for speed reading..

Are there any sources where we can get the philosophy of Leo Tolstoy without have to read the entire book?

Nov. 25 2007 02:45 PM
Greg Levandoski from Fort Collins, CO

Could someone with a quicker ear tell me which translation Malcolm Jones recommended? Thanks.

Nov. 25 2007 02:02 PM
Robert from NYC

I bet it's boring. I never got the "urge" to read it nor to feel that I had/have to and intend (still at 61) not to read it. The constant fuss made over it just drives me further and further away from this continuous reference to the length and excellence of the work. Feh!! But at least I'd like to think I'm open-minded enough to say maybe one day--although I doubt it.

Nov. 25 2007 10:53 AM
James DeLuca from New Canaan, CT

While listening to the War and Peace segment I kept thinking of the episode of Cheers that dealt with Sam having to read it quickly. While quite pleased when the episode was mentioned I always loved this quote:

" Before I read War and Peace again in five days just to impress some broad, it's going to be a cold day in Minsk"

Nov. 24 2007 11:28 PM

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