Customer Reviews for

War and Peace (Pevear/Volokhonsky Translation)

Average Rating 4
( 64 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

A landmark masterpiece brought to new life in a brilliantly re-thought translation.

Translations of great works are usually a tricky business. One problem is that translations do not really age well. In works by Homer or Vergil, for instance, the originals remain fresh and timeless, but the translations soon come to seem stodgy or stuffy or worse -...
Translations of great works are usually a tricky business. One problem is that translations do not really age well. In works by Homer or Vergil, for instance, the originals remain fresh and timeless, but the translations soon come to seem stodgy or stuffy or worse -- what was truly great about the original can easily become obscured. So basically, the translations of the great works have to be recalibrated for each new generation. And even with that, not all translations are equally effective.

This translation of War and Peace is a model of the translator's craft and art. They seem to have fully understood Tolstoy's goals and style.
A long story, War and Peace does require a certain amount of commitment on the part of the reader. But this absorbing, erudite, clever and deeply human translation rewards the time dedicated to reading it. It is often said that War and Peace encompasses every possible emotion and experience that could be found in human life. Pevear and Volokhonsky have produced a translation that honors the original and makes it accesible to a larger audience than ever before. I have strongly requested a number of friends to read this book. They have all thanked me profusely and we have enjoyed many wonderful conversations about its contents.

posted by 3220218 on March 20, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Review of NOOK version

DON'T buy the NOOK version of this book. I did. And I regretted it INSTANTLY. This book has TONS of footnotes that you have to read as you go along. However, in the NOOK version you can't easily access the footnotes as they are all at the back of the book rather tha...
DON'T buy the NOOK version of this book. I did. And I regretted it INSTANTLY. This book has TONS of footnotes that you have to read as you go along. However, in the NOOK version you can't easily access the footnotes as they are all at the back of the book rather than on the same page. I'm totally disappointed that I can't return this ebook (B&N has a no returns policy on ebooks). I'm going to have to buy the PAPER version of this book in order to read it.

posted by InlandEmpireReader on January 31, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2010

    A landmark masterpiece brought to new life in a brilliantly re-thought translation.

    Translations of great works are usually a tricky business. One problem is that translations do not really age well. In works by Homer or Vergil, for instance, the originals remain fresh and timeless, but the translations soon come to seem stodgy or stuffy or worse -- what was truly great about the original can easily become obscured. So basically, the translations of the great works have to be recalibrated for each new generation. And even with that, not all translations are equally effective.

    This translation of War and Peace is a model of the translator's craft and art. They seem to have fully understood Tolstoy's goals and style.
    A long story, War and Peace does require a certain amount of commitment on the part of the reader. But this absorbing, erudite, clever and deeply human translation rewards the time dedicated to reading it. It is often said that War and Peace encompasses every possible emotion and experience that could be found in human life. Pevear and Volokhonsky have produced a translation that honors the original and makes it accesible to a larger audience than ever before. I have strongly requested a number of friends to read this book. They have all thanked me profusely and we have enjoyed many wonderful conversations about its contents.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    So who am I to review War and Peace?

    Tolstoy's insight into human nature is unsurpassed. His philosophical meanderings mark the dawn of modernism. His characters are charming. His depiction of battle is utterly humane. His grasp of history and its implications is unerring. Just read it, you'll be glad you did. By the way, this translation is indeed lucid and approachable.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Tolstoy's Literary Investigation

    This is Tolstoy at the height of his powers. This edition translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is in its own right a masterpiece. I have read Constance Garnett's translation and this one is far superior. Their translations of Dostoevsky, Gogol, and Chekov are also some of the best translations of Russian works I have read. Tolstoy's War and Peace he did not consider a novel and I would agree. It does not have the elements of a novel and is more a meditative investigation of the time period, Russia, and history.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2009

    french in War and Peace

    just a note: Though at times it seems frustrating to read the translated French in footnotes, the dynamic between French and Russian is purposefully there. So, it becomes very helpful to know what characters regularly speak in French (and the general style of how it's used in the Russian aristocracy) when reading War and Peace.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2010

    I really like this translation

    As a proud new Nook owner (purchased after both of my sons came home within one week of each other with theirs), I wanted something serious to try it out on, so I went looking for a copy of War and Peace, which I had not read in many years. Being aware that there are usually several translations of a classic, I of course was looking for the one that I was familiar with, the old stand-by translation by Constance Garnett. As it was not obvious which edition on the last was that translation, I took advantage of the free sample available for this one, and I am very glad that I did. A few pages and I was hooked. I read the Section I of the first part in its entirety at one sitting.

    The decision was apparently made to leave the French portions intact, as the author had written them, showing how the upper class would normally slide in and out of both languages. It gives one a real feel for the way they talked. The translations of the French passages are at the back, but in the electronic version it is very easy to switch back and forth via the links provided. (I like to try to translate the passages on my own and then check to see if I did it right.)

    There is another entire set of notes on the historical references which are also invaluable.

    Tolstoy's incredible mind would shine through a merely competent or even a poor translation, I think; but this translation seems to me to have something a little extra: It seems to give one a feel for what it might be like to read him in the original Russian.

    Highly recommended.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2011

    Review of NOOK version

    DON'T buy the NOOK version of this book. I did. And I regretted it INSTANTLY. This book has TONS of footnotes that you have to read as you go along. However, in the NOOK version you can't easily access the footnotes as they are all at the back of the book rather than on the same page. I'm totally disappointed that I can't return this ebook (B&N has a no returns policy on ebooks). I'm going to have to buy the PAPER version of this book in order to read it.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    a supreme work of art

    The novel has long been canonical. Pevear and Volkhonsky realize the poetry of Tolstoy's Russian to give non-Russian-readers a sense of how deserved is the novel's canonical status.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2007

    A reviewer

    I feel like a phillistine admitting that I have never been able to get through War & Peace. This translation of the russian is much better than previous ones, but it still has the problem of the french language used. To read the french translation, you have to go to the footnotes. Then you lose sense of who was talking going back and forth. Why could the translators not have translated the french in the main text? They translated it anyway. I finally gave up in frustration and regretted spending that much on the book.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2007

    Well Worth the Time

    Given War and Peace's reputation, it was a little intimidating to pick up. It starts out slow, but if you can stick with it, it is an amazing story and actually goes quite fast after you get to know the characters. My daughter and I had a bet on how long it would take to read. She thought 6 months. I was done in a month and a half just reading daily before bed. This is a classic for a reason. Everyone should read it once in their lives.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    Great!

    This book is translated by the best Russian team ever. It's perfect!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2007

    The Master of the Novel

    I recently read War and Peace for the first time. The length of this 'loose baggy monster' as Henry James once described it always prevented me from tackling the famed novel. This was a mistake. Anyone who has read the equally great Anna Karenina can attest that Tolstoy grabs hold of the reader from the first and never fails to 'yes' entertain as well as provoke seemingly endless ideas about family, war, society, economics etc. This novel will haunt you from the first. Tolstoy's image making/evocation is unsurpassed. He will describe a place or person or thing or event, such as several notable battles and your mental image will crystalize with a clarity that is unmatched by other novelists. The shear ambition of this novel is stunning. Numerous characters who are all interesting, set pieces to fill many novels. Even when Tostoy's story is put on hold for essays on Napoleon or other subjects you will find yourself riveted. It seems strange to call this novel a page turner, but it is. It is a 'monster', a wildly entertaining ride through the heart and soul of Russia and in the end all of us. This may be the greatest novel ever. I know you hear that with other novels as well, however, this is one work that can make a claim to encompassing everything and all of us.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2011

    No excuses anymore to read a great book...

    If you've put off reading "War & Peace" due to its length and reputation, you have the chance with this new translation to redeem yourself. This translation is eminently readable and is a major step forward over previous translations, according to my book club friends. While the translation can do nothing about the formidable length, the time taken to cover that length is enjoyable, even intoxicating at times. If there are weaknesses, they are the common ones attributed to "War & Peace," the heavy reliance on French by the upper class Russians, especially in the beginning chapters (which was historically accurate) and the historical essays that initially provide an intriguing commentary on the battles with Napoleon but bring a stultifying conclusion to an otherwise brilliant work. By the way, my version was an e-book version, and while it was a relief not to have to lug the printed book with me on my train commute everyday, the historical and translation footnotes are all handled by hyperlinks which are tiring to access in an e-book with its primitive cursor placement. Still, highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 13, 2010

    Pay for the Pevear translation- - this is not it

    Spend a few extra bucks and get the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation. This is a book I've read every few years since I was 11. 30 years later, it's more relevant than ever. Tolstoy is simply unequaled in his mastery of plot, characters and understanding what really matters. If you've never read it, read it! If it's been a few years, read it again!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Great translation of a novel usually on the short list for greatest novel ever written

    There's something absurd about reviewing a novel nearly 150 years old which is one of the most famous and best regarded ever written.

    Let me just say that Tolstoy's genius is his ability to find his way into to the heads of some many different kinds of people -- from the young Natalia Rostov first falling in love to her brother Nikolai's iniital reaction to combat to the old general Bolkonsky moving increasingly into senility. The plot moves from battle scenes to ballrooms, and it is breathtaking that Tolstoy is equally at home as a writer. The man also had experience in both. *Count* Leo Tolstoy was a Russian aristocrat who was no stranger to the daily life of the aristocracy and also had served as a soldier in the siege of Sevastopol (about which he wrote Sevastopol Stories).

    I can't read Russian, but the translation is highly readable in English and a Russian lit professor I know -- also a native Russian speaker -- thinks that Pevear and Volokhonsky are very good.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    True work of art

    This book was incredible! The plot was completely engaging from start to finish. Tolstoy went to great lengths to research historical documents about the War of 1812 to create this work of historical fiction, and the result allows the reader to become immersed in a novel filled with both an intricate suspensful plotline and one which brings the war of 1812 and the culture of Russia during that time period to life. The recount of certain battles like the one at Borodino and the depiction of the French Army's invasion of Moscow and later on their retreat is rendered with great detail and although the novel is not a historical work, and even Tolstoy himself claims the novel is not even a 'novel', the images he creates give the reader a sense of closeness to the events that happened and what life was like in Russia during that time period. The story itself is captivating, with a multitude of characters and families that all become connected in some way. Scandal, romance, passion, treachery, this novel has it all up until the very end. Tolstoy at times injects his own viewpoints on the role of historians in society and the weaknesses inherent in their reasoning for why events happened the way they did. This dialogue can be tough to get through at times, but it was only a minor hindrance in the progression of the overall storyline. The length of the novel was appropriate given the amount of character development, plot details, and depictions of the war itself and its aftermath. Overall a true masterpiece, quite a pleasure to read this one. For those that cannot read the work in its original language, it is an absolute necessity to get the translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky, which translate it as faithfully as possible without abridging the french language passages scattered throughout the novel, and with an endless array of endnotes, summary, glossary of historical names, to keep the reader informed of the countless historical and cutural references within the novel. This novel is a Must-Read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Enjoyable; Never Boring

    Fantastic book. Don't be scared by the length. Tolstoy keeps you engaged. Reading it now for the second time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2012

    Reputations.

    I'm so glad I bought this book!! This is an amazing novel, and I highly recommend this novel to any avid reader! :D

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2012

    War and Peace

    Essential Classic...Excellent translation. Note: It is hard to see the * for French, Russian, or German after the sentence using the Nook. I read the first 100 pages without realizing that Volokhonsky had translated every sentence or phrase!

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  • Posted April 1, 2012

    THIS IS NOT, REPEAT NOT, the Pevear / Volokhonsky translation!

    THIS IS NOT, REPEAT NOT, the Pevear / Volokhonsky translation! This is the Constance Garnet translation. Do NOT buy if you want the Pevear / Volokhonsky translation.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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