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That situation has its advantages. Translators are always in danger of drifting into the sort of language that is commonly referred to as "smooth," "natural," or, as they now say, "reader friendly," and is really only a tissue of ready-made phrases. When that happens to me, as it sometimes does, Larissa is there to stop me.

War and Peace by graf Leo Tolstoy

Where I have my say is in judging the quality of our English text, that is, in drawing the line between a literal and a faithful rendering, which are not at all the same. After a good deal of confusion, the hussar captain Denisov finally manages to clear the infantry from the bridge and send his cavalry over. As the first riders move onto the bridge, Tolstoy writes: "On the planks of the bridge the transparent sounds of hoofs rang out. It is pure Tolstoy. To my knowledge, it has never been translated into English. What we find in other versions is the "thud" or "clang" of hoofs, and it is likely that I would have done something similar if Larissa had not brought me back to what Tolstoy actually wrote.

His prose is full of such moments. Coming upon them and finding words for them in English has been one of the most rewarding aspects of our work.

War and Peace: the 10 things you need to know (if you haven't actually read it)

Here is a very different and rather amusing example of the search for fidelity. Ordering the menu, he insists that "grebeshki" be put in the "tortue. Going by my own taste, I decided to put scallops in the turtle soup. This reading got as far as the first set of page proofs. Just then we met by chance at a dinner in Paris a woman who used to run a cooking school. We asked her which it should be. She, too, was puzzled.

A War and Peace for our time

A few days later we received a long email from her. She was happy to inform us that they came into fashion precisely around the time of the Napoleonic wars and were a key ingredient in turtle sauce.

Thanks to Mme. Meunier, we were able to make the correction in the second set of proofs. But does such a small thing really matter? Well, it certaintly did to Tolstoy. What this seemingly trivial detail reveals is the extraordinary accuracy of his memory, even in the smallest things. There is, for instance, a war between the French and Russian languages in War and Peace that mirrors the war between the French and Russian armies.

But this precocious modernism is never word play for its own sake. It is always moved by passion. The world of War and Peace envelops you. Over it all is that "infinite sky" that Prince Andrei discovers as he lies wounded on the field of Austerlitz. Read An Excerpt. Paperback —. Add to Cart. Also in Vintage Classics.

War and Peace (BBC miniseries 2016): Episode 6 (finale)

The acting is inspired, in part because the casting was inspired, from Anthony Hopkins, as Pierre, to David Swift, as a pint-sized, swaggering Napoleon. It spoiled me for other adaptations. Does the new series get the novel? Not really. Within the confines of that slightly soapy ambition, the series is credible and, at moments, quite moving. The show, which is the creation of Dave Malloy, who is responsible for the book, the music, and the lyrics, has been playing in various venues for several years already.

SparkNotes: War and Peace: Plot Overview

Josh Groban will take over the part of Pierre when it comes to Broadway. The sets, lighting, and costumes are fantastic. Then the music starts, and the actors belt out show tunes of an unusually or usually, depending on your taste insipid kind.

The hero of the book, the harmless and lovable Pierre Bezukhov, owns forty thousand serfs. He tries to liberate them, but ends up making their lives even worse. In the wolf-hunt episode, for instance, we learn that one of the hunters purchased his prize borzoi with three families of serfs. But this is mentioned in a completely offhand way, as a fact no one would have thought twice about.

Tolstoy was sufficiently concerned to write a reply.

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He explained that he had done research on the period, and he had not found that things were much worse in or than they were in A man who exchanges three families for a hunting dog seems to us a monster, but fifty years from now, people may find it incomprehensible that we kill animals in order to eat them. We have principles, and then we exchange them for other principles. But we can be pretty sure that what counts as enlightened opinion today the next generation will laugh at.

There are many ways to find a moral in the Russian defeat of Bonaparte in One is to read it as Tolstoy did, as the triumph of patience over hubris and of solidarity over grandiosity. Recommended Stories.