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What Makes Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace Still Relevant?

by Shaina Agrawal
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War & Peace

Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace in present times is hailed as one of the most important books of world literature. Tolstoy initially thought of writing a short novel about a political dissent of people returning from exile in Siberia. After 5 years, what he produced was an epic of 1200 pages thrillingly examining history through the various battles and responses of the characters. Now, how is the book that was written some 2 centuries back, can have anything to do with modern life?  Let’s find out. 

War & Peace Asks Vital Questions

Why do wars start? Are we trapped? Is it our psych or upbringing that affects us the most? And many more questions are raised by Tolstoy in War & Peace. These are questions that still make sense in the modern era. Is any reason grand enough to take away the lives of so many people during a battle on both sides? The characters dream of being trapped in their dreams. The symbol of the trap; are we all trapped in our mindsets? Trust us, the book will help you perceive the world with more scepticism, especially the authority at any given point of time. 

Veristic Characters

War & Peace comprises multiple characters, and the characters keep developing. Now tell me? Has this ceased to happen? Until this stops, the book is going to be relevant. Nobody is always going to make the right choices, take the right decisions, and fight for justice. It is the way of life, and War & Peace is a sincere account of it. We will have to appreciate the BBC adaptation of War & Peace here as well; it did justice to this idea. 

There are no Heroes/Heroines

War & Peace is one of the rare books in which the reader does not find a protagonist. The heroes and heroines of the book are the circumstances. The way a character endures a particular set back or the one becomes evil. The victory of war is futile in comparison to human life. Besides, human life is of little value to the aristocratic class that does not need to step into the battlefields. Therefore, the time (circumstances) and the patience are dominant over any other idea or character that is there in the book. Wouldn’t you say that it is still the same?

The Value of Life

One of the online resources convinced me that War & Peace is one of the best self-help books that anyone can pick for themselves. Initially, I felt how can that be the case? It is a historical work, the personality trait of those who love historical books and those who love self-help books differ. However, War & Peace is so vast that it covers all aspects of life, and this is the reason behind its relevance in this modern time. The extent to which war affects human life will make you hate wars. The scenes of battlefields, life, and death described by Tolstoy is so real that it can give goosebumps. Thus, making you feel good about being alive and making you realize that the past did not only have beautiful aesthetic handwritten letters, but people were also dying. You will be thankful for the present time. 

Abrupt Start & End of War & Peace

War & Peace begins with the eve of war between France & Russia. It immediately switches to the aristocratic class, the class that only cared about money, sex, and power at that time. I often find people pointing out that no other great work of literature began with such a meaningless line. I have a different opinion. First, I think like other great works, War & Peace also gives a window to the whole novel. Secondly, life is not very different from Tolstoy’s descriptions. The beginning and the end are not going to make sense, it’s what happens in between that makes a great story. 

For those who loved War & Peace and have a knack for historical fiction, you can find what to binge next here. Let us know if you have already read War & Peace or not, and if you plan to read it. Happy Reading and Bingeing!


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