Tuesday, 9 February 2016

War and Peace

The television series of War and Peace finished last night. It was a lavish production that has received general praise. It's years since I read the book and it has tempted me to return for a re-read. It interested me that whilst I could remember the general storyline and many of the characters very clearly, some others, such as Natasha's brother, I had completely forgotten about.
I've now seen four depictions of this novel, two films and two television productions. An image from the American film illustrates the box of my two-volume set.
I sat through the first half of a very long Russian film but didn't return to the cinema to see the second half! The television production of 1972 was a lengthy twenty-part series, giving time to develop the characters thoroughly and it impressed me greatly. Pierre was played by Anthony Hopkins and Alan Dobie was a memorable Andrei.
Here's the first page of my book for Diane's Tuesday Intros. Without any knowledge of the story would the opening lines invite me to continue reading? I'm doubtful.
And yet.. immediately there is a swipe at society behaviour, descriptions of clothing that put pictures in your head; scarlet livery, an embroidered court uniform with silk stockings and buckled shoes.
Oh, go on then, I'm hooked!
The costumes in the latest production came in for criticism in the papers for their historical inaccuracy; colours not yet invented, styles and fabric inappropriate, medals and tailoring making those with knowledge wince. 
How important is accuracy? I, for one, would like the producers to try harder. (Are there others out there who, on seeing Darcy dive into the lake in 'Pride and Prejudice' would echo my very disgruntled voice saying, "well, THAT'S not in the book!")

A few years ago I went to St Petersburg with my elder daughter, a city that I knew only through reading Russian novels and had long wanted to visit. We stayed in the centre at the Astoria, below, within walking distance of everything that we wanted to see.
And there was a great deal to see, including wonderful art from all over Europe,
and delightful objects in the folk museum.
I didn't see a purple off-the-shoulder dress anywhere!


  1. I missed the series (hope I can find it on Netflix soon) and have wanted to read the book for a very long time... will get to it eventually. After comparing a couple different translations, I found Pevear and Volokhonsky the most readable. Good luck!

  2. I might have better luck watching War and Peace than I have in my many attempts to read it. I rarely make it too far, I'm afraid. I loved Anna Karenina when I read it (I haven't seen it on the screen), and so I had hoped I could manage War and Peace. I'm sure I'll try again someday.

  3. I would definitely give this a chance. I haven't read anything by Tolstoy in awhile. I'm looking forward to watching the series as well!

  4. Oh, this is a lovely post about War and Peace. Love the pictures and the commentary. But...no, I just don't want to read it. Sorry. LOL

  5. For some reason I've never read War and Peace! Maybe it's because it's so long and would require such a big commitment of time.
    I enjoyed your photos of St. Petersburg. That's a place I'd love to visit.
    My Tuesday post features THE GIVER.

  6. Anna Karenina is one of my 5 favorite novels. I first read it when I was in high school and have re-read it many times. As for War and Peace, I read it one summer not long ago, am glad I did, but won't return to it.

  7. I've never read this one and know I should. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I just finished watching it today. I loved it and if you hadn't told me about the inaccuracies, I would have never known. I thought it was very well done.

  9. Oh I have always want to read War and Peace, and yet I haven't. One of my favorite authors stated he reads it once a year. Maybe one day! Happy Valentine's Day!