“War and Peace” eludes all categorizations and labels, it as much a work of fiction as it is of history and historiography. It is a book of ideas and emotions that can’t be expressed but only experienced. A universe in itself: a world of fascinating beauty and awe inspiring expanse. It defies all conventions and goes on to analyze history, war, military life, friendship, love and most of all, the meaning of life. Leo Tolstoy made sure that the reader finds all this in the book, and more too.
‘Tolstoy wanted his reader to expect something deeper and broader than the romances they were used to finding in fiction. This is what he meant when claimed that “War and Peace” was not a novel. There would be no single hero and heroine and no straightforward plot, no orthodox ending. It is a book in which Tolstoy made up new rules as it expanded: a society novel turned into a family saga, only to grow into a historical chronicle and a mighty epic.’
From the soirees in 1805 to the Battle of Austerlitz in 1807, from the French invasion of Moscow to the retreat of Napoleon, there is a panorama of characters with all the emotions and psychological complexities that Tolstoy never fails to coalesce in the story. The greatness of the story comes from the weakness of its characters, all of whom make mistakes. The novel is a casebook of human inadequacy and imperfection.