Critical Insights: War and Peace Review

“This companion reference to Tolstoy’s masterpiece, War and Peace explores the author’s life and times, increasing the reader’s appreciation of this sweeping work. The book begins with essays on Tolstoy and how he intertwined events of his own life and of his family’s into his characters. For example, by using his father’s personal accounts of his army service against Napoleon and his own experience in the Russian army during the Crimean War, Tolstoy brings alive with its authenticity Russia’s defeat by the French at Austerlitz in 1805 and Russia’s triumph over the same forces in 1812. The editor then provides a series of critical essays exploring in depth the historical and social context of the Russia portrayed in War and Peace. Through literary analysis we see the novel from a variety of lens, such as the key philosophical debate of the day between Westernizers and Slavophiles, Orthodox spirituality, nineteenth-century warfare practices, a comparison of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky who were contemporaries, the impact of the freeing of the serfs in 1861 (which happened while Tolstoy was writing his opus), and more. Features include a chronology of Tolstoy’s life, a complete list of his works, and a bibliography for further study. The student of War and Peace is sure to find new insights in this resource.”