Author(s): Leo N. Tolstoy
With an Introduction by Aylmer Maude and an Afterword by Stella Baty Landis.
Widely regarded as the greatest novel in any language, War and Peace is primarily concerned with the histories of five aristocratic families particularly the Bezukhovs, the Bolkonskys and the Rostovs who are portrayed against a vivid background of Russian social life during the wars against Napoleon (1805-14). The theme of war, however, is subordinate to the story of family existence, which involves Tolstoy's optimistic belief in the life-asserting pattern of human existence. The novel also sets forth a theory of history, concluding that there is a minimum of free choice; all else is ruled by an inexorable historical determinism.