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Writer's Reviews - War and Peace: Leo Tolstoy

The critical-literary analyses offered by WriTribe are a thousand words long. Each has been compiled with the intention of providing writers not only with a general introduction to the works presented, but also to reveal the added value inherent in each of them.

1,000 words go far beyond mere criticism or superficial praise; they are intended to point you to one or more secret elements, showing you what narrative techniques are masterfully employed by the author of the work in question.

Written with the unique perspective of an author for authors, reviews aim to point out to you what added value you can glean from twenty literary classics. With this in mind, choosing the reading best suited to your need will prove much easier.


The cover of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

The work at a glance.

War and Peace, by far Tolstoy's masterpiece, is now recognized as one of the classics of world literature from which many great storytellers over the centuries have drawn inspiration and inspiration. A historical novel with epic overtones, War and Peace tells the story of a number of aristocrats engaged in the war between Russia and Napoleonic France in the years between 1805 and 1812, particularly the two protagonist families, the Rostovs and the Bolkonskys, interweaving their relationships against the backdrop of the Napoleonic campaign in Russia.

The protagonist is Natasha Rostova, a young and very lively daughter of a nobleman who falls in love with Andrei Bolkonsky, also from a high-ranking family, endowed with a marked intelligence and reserved manners who, wounded in the course of a battle, finds himself living in a state of deep inner crisis.

Andrei's older brother Nikolai, who fought the war on Napoleon's side and was later imprisoned, returns home and falls in love with Natasha's older sister Maria. At the conclusion of the war and after going through no small number of hardships, Natasha and Andrej finally reunite and marry, as Nikolai and Maria will form a happy family. The plot, then, unfolds through what are the vicissitudes of the two protagonist families within a precise historical-political context: the entry of Russia into the war against Napoleon's France, the Battle of Borodino (the epic clash that takes place in a single day), the Battle of Austerlitz, and the burning of Moscow.


What you can learn from reading this work.

  1. The simple and effective writing style.

  2. How to construct a historical novel.

  3. How to create multidimensional characters.

  4. How social issues are addressed.


The novel, which in its majesty and themes could be called epic on a par with the works of the great Homer, has marked the course of world literature by its grandeur and importance. On a structural level War and Peace unfolds on different planes in which there are meticulous descriptions of the lives of the Russian nobles of the time, which highlight the ideals of the main characters, and through which the philosophical and even political thought of the great Russian writer is manifested. That is why War and Peace is not only a historical novel about the Russian aristocracy at the time of the Napoleonic wars, but also a work that explores the deep nature of human beings, the moral aspects, and the ideals of freedom and justice that move every society in every time.

Tolstoy, in fact, throughout his narrative, exposes a genuine social critique of the nobility and Russian society of the time, highlighting failures and weaknesses. Likewise, through his characters, Tolstoy attempts to assert the idea of how profoundly the decisions of each individual can affect the lives of the community in which they live. In this way, the novel also deals with universal themes such as love, death, and the meaning of life, highlighting the full complexity of the human experience thus showing an authentic philosophical framework.

On a literary and stylistic level, moreover, War and Peace represents one of the greatest examples of narrative realism both in the construction of the characters and in the sketching of a precise historical setting. This is because it investigates, through the grand fresco of what was Russian high society in the late 19th century, both the psychological issues of the protagonists and because it frames that period in a punctilious manner.

Indeed, the historical and detailed depiction of the Napoleonic wars and the life of the Russian nobility of the time provides a vivid and realistic picture of 19th-century Russia and Europe, and this makes it first and foremost an important historical source. Not only that, Tolstoy thoroughly analyzes the characters by characterizing them mainly from a psychological point of view, posing the problem of how the individual can find meaning in life as well as in history, and then exploring inescapable themes such as death, freedom, happiness and the meaning of human existence.

The literary importance of War and Peace is, as mentioned, now universally acknowledged: Tolstoy contributed to a new impetus in fiction first and foremost by innovating the novelistic style and overcoming the traditional gap that existed between artistic production and ethics. His writing style marked by a strong psychological characterization of the characters and appealing to universal values makes War and Peace a novel in its own way that is also modern and relevant today, and for these reasons it becomes a must-read for those about to tackle a written text.


In the pages of War and Peace it is possible to identify many elements that can be taken as examples for anyone intending to approach fiction. First, Tolstoy's writing style, which is extremely clear and clean, makes the entire narrative flow smoothly without sacrificing linguistic, semantic and even content depth. This aspect, in particular, emerges in the construction of all the protagonists of the story, whose psychological dynamics, ideals, drives, aspects of the soul the writer investigates, and this can help in the creation of even complex and therefore interesting characters.

Not only that, the attention to detail in the descriptions of the war and the Napoleonic campaign and, consequently, the choice of a precise historical setting become first and foremost an important tool for knowledge of those events and make clear and explicit how much the choice of a context influences both the plot and the characters always in a coherent and consequential way, keeping faith with that narrative realism that makes every novel credible and authoritative.

Finally, War and Peace had considerable influence not only in the literary sphere; in fact, it was also successful on the silver screen with the film War and Peace (1956), directed by King Vidor and starring Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrer and the music of Nino Rota. The novel was also reproduced in Italy in a radio script in 1974.

The fact remains that War and Peace remains, and will remain in history, a literary work that continues to inspire renowned authors, enthralling a readership that never seems to run out, and for this reason it represents an indispensable example and beacon for all who approach a work of writing.


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