Item description for War and Peace (Abridged 4 CDs) by Leo Tolstoy...
Tim Pigott-Smith reads Tolstoy's War and Peace. There are four audio CD's in a plastic case.
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Studio: Naxos Audiobooks
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 5.6" Width: 4.9" Height: 1" Weight: 0.35 lbs.
Publisher Naxos Audiobooks
ISBN 9626340428 ISBN13 9789626340424 UPC 730099004220
Availability 0 units.
More About Leo Tolstoy
One of the greatest Russian writers of the 19th century, Leo Tolstoy is best known for his novels The Cossacks, Resurrection, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, which are considered to be among the best examples of realistic fiction ever written, as well as non-fiction including A Confession and What Is Art?. In addition to his writing, Tolstoy was known as a moral thinker and social reformer who embraced ascetic views in his personal life, and his writings on non-violent resistance, particularly The Kingdom of God Is Within You, influenced such notable activists as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Tolstoy died of pneumonia in 1910, leaving behind a rich literary legacy that has been translated around the world and adapted for many international films.
Reviews - What do customers think about War and Peace (Abridged 4 CDs)?
An amazing novel May 24, 2008
Leo Tolstoy combines philosophy and history for one of the best fictional stories about a historical event that I have read. The plot is captivating from the beginning. A glimpse at the high society of Russia in the early 1800's followed by the story of the lives of the families at that gathering. The story of the Rostov's captures all the human emotions. The excitement of Nikolay at his first battle, only to be overcome by cowardice. The maturing of Nikolay into a courageous soldier. To see the same cycle beginning in his brother Petya. The life and death experiences of Prince Andrey and Pierre that shed light into the character of men. But throughout this story, Tolstoy inserts his cynical view of historians and government. Tolstoy does not love Napolean or think of him as a great commander, nor does Tolstoy give him credit for leading the French army to victories. Additionally, he criticizes the actions of government officials and military leaders for their brutality to their citizens and soldiers. I can only begin to describe the plot and the multiple story lines in War and Peace, but I assure you this novel will captivate you. The brilliance of Tolstoy is demonstrated in this novel and I highly recommend it.
The Garnett and Dunnigan translations... details here May 20, 2008
This review is broken down into two segments, a Descriptive Summary and two Evaluative Summaries, one each for the Garnett and Dunnigan translations. If you're already very familiar with the story of "War and Peace," you may wish to skip directly to the latter facets of my review which are essentially the critique of both the Constance Garnett and Ann Dunnigan translations. Since this site does not differentiate between the two translations, I've had to post both reviews at this single site.
In 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Austria to expand his European empire. Russia, being an ally of Austria, stood with their brethren against the infamous Emperor. Napoleon prevailed and a treaty was ultimately signed at Tilsit. In 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia, again in an effort to expand his empire. The end result of this tragic war was that Napoleon's army of about 600,000 soldiers was reduced to roughly 60,000 men as the defamed Emperor raced from Moscow (which he had taken), back across the frozen Russian tundra in his carriage (leaving his troops behind to fend for themselves) for Paris. That encapsulizes the military aspect of this work.
But the more intricate story involves both the activities and the peccadillos of, primarily, three Russian families of nobility: The Rostovs, the Bolkonskys, and the Bezukhovs. The continual thorn of "The Antichrist," Napoleon, really just provides the wallpaper for this story of romance, riches, desolation, love, jealousy, hatred, retribution, joy, naïveté, stupidity, hubris, and so much more.
Tolstoy has woven an incredibly intricate web that interconnects these noble families, the wars, and the common Russian people to a degree that would seem incomprehensible to achieve - but Tolstoy perseveres with superb clarity and great insight to the human psyche. His characters are timeless and the reader who has any social experience whatever will immediately connect with them all.
"War and Peace" is a fictional, lengthy novel, based upon historical fact.
In his double Epilogue, Tolstoy yields us a shrewd dissertation on the behavior of large organizations, much of it by way of analogy. It's actually an oblique, often sarcastic, commentary on the lunacy of government activities and the madness of their wars.
EVALUATIVE SUMMARY (Garnett):
The Garnett translation has probably come under more fire than any of the others, purportedly for inaccuracies of what Tolstoy supposedly actually said. This is possibly true, but as I do not speak Russian, I can neither confirm nor deny this allegation. But I will point out that there are two types of translations -- the one is rigid and runs word for word correctly, and the second type focuses more upon manifesting the essence of a story... The Big Picture, so to speak. The Garnett translation falls into the latter category.
I can make one particular and certain observation regarding this volume: Garnett's handling of the more poetic and epic events in the novel is masterful. Even if her translation is not word-for-word correct, I'm sure that she was very plugged into the vision which Tolstoy was trying to convey. You'll see this actuality blossom in the following places, for instance: "Petya's dream"; the view of Moscow on the morning of Napoleon's approach; the "mirror-scrying" episode between Natasha and Sonya; the wolf hunt... and so on. I think it's "The Woman's Touch," coming through, which is a good thing.
Constance Garnett published her version of "War and Peace" in 1904, so this was one of the early ones. Other translations into English include:
Clara Bell (from a French version) 1885-86 W. H. Dole 1889 Leo Wiener 1904 Louise and Aylmer Maude (1922-3) Princess Alexandra Kropotkin (abridged, 1949) Manuel Komroff (abridged, 1956) Rosemary Edmonds (1957, revised 1978) Ann Dunnigan (1968) Anthony Briggs (2005) Andrew Bromfield (2007), (translation of an early draft, approx. 400 pages shorter than other English translations) Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (2007)
Wikipedia cites this information about Garnett [edited]:
"She was initially educated at Brighton and Hove High School. Afterwards she studied Latin and Greek at Newnham College, Cambridge on a government scholarship, where she also learned Russian (partly from émigré Russian friends such as Felix Volkonsky [Rubenstein]), and worked briefly as a school teacher.
In 1893, shortly after a visit to Moscow, Petersburg and Yasnaya Polyana where she met Leo Tolstoy, she was inspired to start translating Russian literature, which became her life's passion and resulted in English-language versions of dozens of volumes by Tolstoy, Gogol, Goncharov, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Turgenev, Ostrovsky and Chekhov. The Russian anarchist Sergei Stepniakpartly assisted her, also in revision some of her early works.
By the late 1920s, Garnett was frail, white-haired, and half-blind. She retired from translating after the publication in 1934 of Three Plays by Turgenev. After her husband's death in 1937, she became quite reclusive. She developed a heart condition, with attendant breathlessness, and in her final period had to walk with crutches."
In summary, if you happen to end up with a Garnett translation for your first reading of "War and Peace," I would say that you have been lucky. Some English translations yield the French entries (2% of the book) as Tolstoy entered them, with the English translation of the French following in footnotes. Garnett translated the entire work, with a very few minor exceptions, as a direct read in English, so it's easy to read.
EVALUATIVE SUMMARY (Dunnigan):
To date (7-'08), I have read the following translations of "War and Peace": Louise and Aylmer Maude (1922-23, which I've read twice), Pevear and Volokhonsky (2007), Briggs (2005), Garnett (1904), and now, Dunnigan (1968). I'll be reading the Dole translation (1889) next and then Edmonds (1957, revised 1978), Weiner (1904), and Bell (1885-86) after that. I'm going to read the two abridgements (Kropotkin, 1949; and, Komroff, 1956), as well as Bromfield's "alternative version" (2007, from an early Tolstoy draft), but I want to read all the standard English translations first.
Dunnigan's translation is particularly suited to Americans on the go. I call it the "doctor's office version" because the softcover binding and the size of the book (4" x 7" x 2 1/4") makes it convenient to take along wherever you go.
Ann Dunnigan was born in Hollywood, California and died in 1997 at the age of 87. In addition to Tolstoy books she also translated works by Chekhov and Dostoyevsky.
Dunnigan's work represents the only contemporary "American" English translation of "War and Peace". Thus the American reader will appreciate the straightforward slant on Tolstoy's writing, especially when they encounter phrases such as where a girl, "...plumped down" [on the floor].
American readers also seem to cringe a little when they encounter, in other translations, Russian soldiers calling each other "mate" (Briggs) and when a common response is "Eh?" (Maude and others). Also, with the character Denisov, who clearly suffered from being tongue-tied, Dunnigan gets it right by substituting a "w" where Denisov is trying to pronounce an "r". (Denisov liked to holler out at his fellow Hussar, Rostov... "Hey, Wostov!") In the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation, a "gh" is inserted in such instances which makes no phonetic sense at all.
If I have a problem with the Dunnigan translation at all, it's that I find that she is somewhat less poetic than either Garnett or the Maudes. One can pick up on this caveat at various scenes in the work: "Petya's Dream," "Napoleon looking at Moscow from Sparrow Hills," "Natasha's and Sonya's mirror-scrying episode," "The wolf hunt and the subsequent trip to 'Uncle's' home," "The mummer's episode," and so on. But, nonetheless, the overall story is still clearly and coherently conveyed to the reader.
Dunnigan dispensed with all but a very few historical footnotes. She also rendered almost the entire work in English (she retained just a few common French phrases), unlike some translations which maintain the French text and translate this into English via lengthy footnotes. This French text orginally made up about two percent of the Tolstoy manuscript (the period Russian nobility commonly spoke French as a second language, a carry-over practice of the policies of Catherine the Great.) Readers who wish to have the French language maintained within the regular text and who prefer access to plenty of historical footnotes should acquire the more academic Pevear/Volokhonsky translation. When and where it is important or relevant to know, Dunnigan apprises the reader that the original conveyance was in French.
There is a 16-page introduction to the Dunnigan work, written by Oxford Professor John Bayley, a British literary writer-critic and the husband of renowned fiction writer Iris Murdoch ("A Severed Head"). There is also a one-page "selected bibliography" at the conclusion of the text.
Unless you are reading "War and Peace" for academic purposes the Ann Dunnigan translation would be a great choice, especially for American readers and/or those who enjoy reading in bursts to fill dead time.
Maudes at Home with Tolstoy Apr 23, 2008
The Maudes translated WAR AND PEACE in Tolstoy's house, consulting with him. They did a nice, thorough and very readable job. Meanwhile Tolstoy deliberately wrote in a simple, easy way to reach more readers. So while the Pevear translation may be slightly better (scholars have examined this work for more than a century and picked up translation errors here and there) or slightly worse, you really can't go wrong with the Maudes.
My first thoughts after completion Apr 3, 2008
I held the book in my hands and felt its weight. It looked quite big; not as big as when I first saw it but still big - and had I actually gone through all those pages and all those letters? Apparently. What now? What was this feeling spreading in me? was it emptiness? I felt sad. For the first time after completing a book there actually was a possibility that I would never read a better book for the rest of my life. This possibility weighted heavily on me, and the book, still resting in my hands, grew even lighter. But then, thinking about all the moments in the book, all the characters, all the emotions, all the ideas and images I thought: Well, if this book in fact turns out to be the best book I'll ever read, that would be alright. And then I didn't feel empty anymore. I was not sad anymore, in fact, I was satisfied, and warm. And I still am.
Exactly what I was looking for Feb 22, 2008
I had been putting off reading War and Peace for over 45 years because my early attempts were with terrible translations. After looking at reviews of different translations, I decided to try once more with the Maude version. It is very readable and I appreciate the notes in the back and the character list in the front. It reads like the great novel it is supposed to be. I only wish I had discovered it earlier, but I am enjoying it now!