Why Read "War and Peace"?

Kent Chemical Laboratory, Room 107

War and Peace is universally recognized as a great work, but its reputation as the quintessential “long novel” has resulted in an unwarranted reluctance to read it. In fact, the novel is a page-turner, which was Tolstoy’s intention from the beginning. Fresh off his experience teaching peasant children Russian history and influenced by his reading of English “sensation novels” of the 1860s, Tolstoy set about to write an engaging account of one history’s great stories. In the end he accomplished much more than this: in addition to producing some of the most memorable scenes and characters in world literature, he set forth a theory of history that continues to provoke today. As October 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of Napoleon's famous retreat from Moscow, it is a great time to read this classic. Prof. Nickell will also read excerpts from his forthcoming reader’s companion to the novel.