Thoughts on War and Peace Volume 1 Part 1

Apr 14, 2024
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I finished Volume 1, Part 1 of War & Peace1 a couple days ago, and I thought it would be fun to write some journal entries to look back on. And, who knows, it might also be fun for the readers who would rather hear another person talk about their experience with this book than read it. Personally, I had no idea what it was even about until I saw Great Comet, so hopefully this gives some people an idea. Spoilers from here on out for this book written in the 1860's.


Overall, I'm enjoying this book way more than I thought I would. Even though there hasn't been much of a plot so far, the lived-in feeling of the characters and setting is what keeps me coming back to it. In most "classics" I remember reading, the characters felt very distant from real people, or they felt too much like stock characters. In War and Peace the characters feel very particular, and I felt like I could recognize them and their situations in the modern day. To be fair, though, that might also be because this is one of the first classics I've read for myself as an adult. I also wonder how much of my view of the characters is tinted by what I know about their futures from Great Comet. It is really interesting to know some of the places they'll go before they do (dramatic irony my beloved).


My favorite characters are, unsurprisingly, Pierre Bezukhov and Marya Bolkonsky. Honorable mention to Andrei Bolkonsky.

With Pierre, I keep coming back to the musical's description of him as "bewildered and awkward." That's been his whole character in this part. I find him really relatable, especially in terms of being very excited to talk to people about what he finds interesting, even when it's a bit inappropriate. It's very endearing. I was kind of shocked to see that he and Anatole were drinking buddies, but it does make sense that Pierre would have a place to get out his frustrations.

I got to see much more of Marya's life in the book than I did in the musical, and I am so grateful for that. I like her even more now. I feel like she's very autistic and ace -coded. Someone get her out of this dang house and give her a happy life, PLEASE.

Andrei gets an honorable mention because I don't like him as much as the other two, but I also find him to be one of the more interesting characters so far. Whenever he's on the page, he fascinates me. He's such a dick, but in a way that doesn't seem to have malicious intentions, if that makes sense. He's just unpleasant. I think it's a clever move to have him gone for most of Great Comet; the audience can idolize him like Natasha does, not knowing what he's like.


My favorite scene from this part of the book is when Pierre goes to see his dying father. It's all so awkward and tense and sad at the same time, and I found it to be very realistic. The closest person to me I've lost is my grandpa, and the feeling of having to grieve while also feeling a bit like a stranger to the people around you was very well-rendered, I think. It got to me.


  1. I'm reading the version translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.