This introductory chapter provides a reading of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace from different perspectives. It first views the novel as “literature”, describing War and Peace as both the quintessential Russian novel and perhaps its greatest example. In “A Few Words about the Book War and Peace” (1868) Tolstoy attributes to the “author” the determining role in War and Peace. He tells readers that it can be understood only as “that which the author wanted to and could express in the form in which it is expressed.” The chapter then reads the novel as “history,” focusing on how Tolstoy sought to be true to the historical record available to him. It ends by viewing War and Peace in Tolstoy's own worldview along with a brief discussion of the different theories of war and history in the novel.
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