Ermmmm – what was that I was saying about the Maudes’ version? 😦

Lovely as it is, I hit a major snag fairly early on with the Everyman volume of “War and Peace”, despite finding the book readable and easy to handle… Unfortunately, the Maudes render Prince Andrei as Prince Andrew, and that’s going to be a deal-breaker.

Maudes version with Andrew and Pierre….

Pierre is left as Pierre and not Peter, and as OH commented when I mentioned this problem to him, it sounds like the Prince belongs in Scotland and not Russia. And then I discovered that Kirill is rendered as Cyril…  No. I want my Russian characters to sounds as if they *are* Russian. So I switched to the Edmonds version, as she has the Prince as Andrei, and once I settled down again, the reading has gone swimmingly!

The Edmonds version character list

So, putting these irritations aside, how have I got on with my first week of reading “War and Peace”? Quite well, actually. I’ve found the reading easy and very enjoyable, and boy am I impressed again with Tolstoy’s storytelling abilities. He plunges straight into the action, right into Russian society of the era, and in the first part we get introduced to what I believe are most of the main players. Instantly, we learn about the kind of behind the scenes machinations that go on, favours being called in to get your son into the right regiment, or your idiot son married off. The war against Napoleon is on everyone’s lips and Andrei (as we shall correctly call him) is heading off to fight, mostly it seems to get away from his young and light-headed pregnant wife. Pierre, our other main character, comes into money and title through to even more machinations on his behalf. And Natasha is still a young girl.

I love the way Tolstoy moves the action on, with the result of the actions in one chapter being revealed almost in passing by a character in the next. And all of the players are leaping off the page, wonderfully realised, so that’s a plus.

I think these posts are not so much going to be a review as such (how can you encapsulate such a massive work in some blog posts, after all?); but I shall probably be more using them to record my reactions as I read. What’s clear is that Tolstoy is very good at observing the small details in life, using his snapshots of relationships to build up a bigger picture. He captures the interplay between characters brilliantly and is not afraid to build up to a dramatic climax, such as the one which occurs at the end of the first part of the book.

So I’m about 100-odd pages in, and so far loving “War and Peace” – let’s hope all continues this well!