War and Peace Study Guide

War and Peace Study Guide

Original title:
Война и миръ

Leo Tolstoy wrote the major work of the world’s literary heritage entitled “War and Peace” in 1869. It consists of 15 books topped with the philosophical discussions of the epilog that go hand in hand with the narration and plot and make it unique and non-conformant to any typical literature genre.

The novel features the French-Russian war of the beginning of 19th century and its later impact. Five upper-class families are the main protagonists of the story: Drubetskoys, Kuragins, Rostovs, Bezukhovs, Bolkonskys. The story begins when they all meet during the reception at Rostov’s house. There’s a great feeling of anxiety in the light of the “man of destiny” approaching Russia.

The characters live through their first experiences of war, love, hate and individual decision-making. Their lives are full of happy and tragic events: duels to protect the integrity and reputation of their possibly unfaithful wives, deaths at war and while giving birth, unfair punishments for making decisions for such small things as administering family assets and such big ones as searching for food for military regiments.

Even being wealthy and smart, Leo never exhibited much enthusiasm for education. But even he saw the lack of manners and superficiality of the people around him, which resonated with traits of aristocrats in his story.

Some of the main ideas the book is centered around are deaths, wealth, happiness, pride, and dignity. Even though the author denied for his work to be a historical chronicle, today it serves as a rich and detailed source of everyday life of the Russian Empire and even more so of a post-Napoleonic influence on it.

The book is a great read. It might be difficult to understand at first, but once it’s finished, it lures the reader to flip its magnificent pages over and over again searching for new interpretations of the characters and deep meanings hidden between the lines.

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