Literature/War & Peace


Is Tolstoy's War & Peace one book or a collection of books?

I came across this link and was confused.

Hi James

This is a relatively straightforward question.

War and Peace has had several editions published in Tolstoy's lifetime - but for the most part, there were only minor changes and one big expansion that equal the one book we have today.

There is one reason there are multiple books. At the time of it's writing, it was not unusual for an author to segment parts of their pieces into portions called "books," and moreover if they were originally serialized for one reason or another. Another author who did this during the same time period from another part of the globe was Charles Dickens, and you can find it throughout his books - many of which were serialized through subscription services and in magazines.

War and Peace was originally serialized and released in small portions. That eventually stopped, another big chunk was added, and so we have the complete version we have today. Without doing any hard research, I cannot tell you whether it was the serialization or the fact that it was just written when it was that made Tolstoy organize it in this manner, but it is likely the latter since Anna Karenina (one of my favorite books of all time - you should check it out if you haven't) is also organized in this manner.

In short, it is one volume, organized into several parts that are simply called "books."



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