Tolstoy: The Next Landing TBR Pile Challenge

War and Peace

Cover shows detail from ‘The 1812 Retreat – The Battle of Borodino’ by Vereschagin

I promised you an announcement on the next stage of the Landing Book Shelves Reading Challenge and here it is at long last. As you will no doubt guess from the illustration, the challenge is the reading of War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy, 1828 -1910) a big hurdle if ever there was one. This worthy challenge has been put on the Landing Book Shelves agenda because it also happens to be my book group’s project at the moment, this killing the proverbial two birds. I’m not sure how long it will take me to read War and Peace (or how long it will take my fellow book clubbers for that matter) but I undertake to offer my blog readers reasonably regular progress updates. Weighing in at 1444 pages, this lengthy tome will be read in stages in between various other books.

It is just as well that the idea of reading War and Peace for book group came up as it is likely that it would have sat on the Landing Book Shelves almost indefinitely. I say ‘almost’ because I really and truly meant to get around to reading it sometime. I bought my copy in May 1992 with the intention of reading Tolstoy’s epic during my summer holidays. After all this time I can’t recall what I did read that summer, but it certainly wasn’t Tolstoy. So, it’s better late than never on the Russian classics front I suppose.

War and Peace was first published in 1869 (I’ll fill in the publication history in a future post) and the paperback edition that I have on The Landing was first published by Penguin Classics as a two-volume edition in 1957. The one volume edition came out in 1982; the translation is by Rosemary Edmonds from 1957 with revisions in 1973. I’m by no means an expert on the virtues of one translation over another so I will have to trust to the reliability of Penguin Classics in this instance. There are more recent translations available (for example from Penguin Classics and Vintage), but as this is the copy I have on The Landing, I’ll go with this one unless any reader out there tells me that I would be better served with a different translation.

I will be embarking for nineteenth century Russia just as soon as I’ve finished my library book and a couple of review books….I promise…


8 comments on “Tolstoy: The Next Landing TBR Pile Challenge

  1. Aoife Roantree says:

    I believe Andrew Hayden has a strong opinion on best translation – can’t remember which one it is though! If your edition keeps the names in the original Russian form rather than anglicising them, then I think you’re ok!


    • Chris Mills says:

      Well apparently the translator has dispensed with the Russian patronymic and uses only the first name and surname. I’m not sure if that will pass muster with Andrew but I think it’ll do for me as a Tolstoy novice. Mind you I have had practice with Russian names from reading the novels about Erast Petrovich Fandorin! Thanks for commenting.


  2. From an ink smeared page says:

    I’ll have to look into this book too – I’ve just discovered how much I love reading Tolstoy in his book ‘Childhood Boyhood and Youth.’


    • Chris Mills says:

      That sounds interesting I’ve never read it – this is the first time I’ve tackled any Tolstoy so I’m feeling a little daunted at the moment. Must gird my loins and get stuck in. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


  3. Good luck on your challenge! You are a lot braver than I am- I can’t bring myself to even attempt it and look forward to reading of your progress!


    • Chris Mills says:

      I’m not feeling brave at the moment – merely foolhardy! Anyway I’ll see how it goes, though how long the book will take me is anyone’s guess at this stage. Thanks for stopping by and for following the blog.


  4. […] hope you liked the piece and would appreciate any constructive comments! I’ll be back with a Tolstoy update […]


  5. […] post on Leo Tolstoy means a return to my occasional Russian theme, though yet again it is a digression from the TBR […]


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