At a glittering society party in St Petersburg in 1805, conversations are dominated by the prospect of war. Terror swiftly engulfs the country as Napoleon’s army marches on Russia, and the lives of three young people are changed for ever. The stories of quixotic Pierre, cynical Andrey and impetuous Natasha interweave with a huge cast, from aristocrats and peasants to soldiers and Napoleon himself. In War and Peace (1863-9), Tolstoy entwines grand themes – conflict and love, birth and death, free will and fate – with unforgettable scenes of nineteenth-century Russia, to create a magnificent epic of human life in all its imperfection and grandeur.
Anthony Briggs’s superb translation combines stirring, accessible prose with fidelity to Tolstoy’s original, while Orlando Figes’s afterword discusses the novel’s vast scope and depiction of Russian identity. This edition also includes appendices, notes, a list of prominent characters and maps.