Shopping Cart

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Hosted by Yiyun Li

Share this book club

August 3, 2021
Dear Friends,

Paging through Tolstoy Together: 85 Days of War and Peace—a book about reading Tolstoy's epic novel together last year—I have found myself exclaiming with joy: to experience a novel of multitudes with a multitude of minds.

Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, I was fortunate to have readers around the world join me for a journey through War and Peace. Tolstoy Together encapsulates that extraordinary experience. In September, when this communal reading journal is published by A Public Space Books, I invite you for an encore book club to read Tolstoy's novel.

Whether you are a first-time reader or a re-reader of War and Peace, whether you were part of last year’s journey or you are new to the endeavor, I hope you will be able to join us. We will read War and Peace along with Tolstoy Together—looking with more than one pair of eyes, and conversing with our fellow observers from last year. It will be like a party of the best kind.

Ever yours,
Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li

is the author of nine books, including Tolstoy Together: 85 Days of War and Peace with Yiyun Li; Where Reasons End, which received the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award; the essay collection Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life; and the novels The Vagrants, Must I Go, and The Book of Goose. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, and Windham-Campbell Prize, among other honors. A contributing editor to A Public Space, she teaches at Princeton University.

Leo Tolstoy

(1828–1910) was one of the great Russian novelists of the nineteenth century, an acclaimed realist writer whose pivotal works include War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

Daily Reading

Day 1

September 15, 2021 | Volume I, Part I, i-iii. (From “Eh bien, mon prince” to “the company of intelligent women.”)

Day 2

September 16, 2021 | Volume I, Part I, iv-vi (partial). (From “Anna Pavlovna smiled” to “Word of honor!”)

Day 3

September 17, 2021 | Volume I, Part I, vi (second half) - x. (From “It was already past one o’clock” to “she slowly walked beside him to the sitting room.”)

Day 4

September 18, 2021 | Volume I, Part I, xi-xiv. (From “The countess was so tired” to “But for both of them they were pleasant tears…”)

Day 5

September 19, 2021 | Volume I, Part I, xv-xvii. (From “Countess Rostov, with her daughters” to “letting out a long, deep breath and pushing up her sleeves.”)

Day 6

September 20, 2021 | Volume I, Part I, xviii-xx. (From “Just as the sixth anglaise was being danced” to “Pierre went out.”)

Day 7

September 21, 2021 | Volume I, Part I, xxi-xxiii. (From “There was no one in the reception room now” to “Go to the dining room.”)

Day 8

September 22, 2021 | Volume I, Part I, xxiv-xxv (end of Part I). (From “At the appointed hour” to “shook his head reproachfully, and slammed the door.”)

Day 9

September 23, 2021 | Volume I, Part II, i-iii. (From “In October 1805” to “the cornet turned and left the corridor.”)

Day 10

September 24, 2021 | Volume I, Part II, iv-vii. (From “The Pavlogradsky hussar regiment” to “Put a stick between your legs, that’ll do you for a horse,” rejoined the hussar.)

Day 11

September 25, 2021 | Volume I, Part II, viii-ix. (From “The rest of the infantry” to “a long-past, far-off memory.”)

Day 12

September 26, 2021 | Volume I, Part II, x-xiii. (From “Prince Andrei stayed in Brünn” to “women of their mutual acquaintance.”)

Day 13

September 27, 2021 | Volume I, Part II, xiv-xviii. (From “On the first of November” to “after the disordered French.”)

Day 14

September 28, 2021 | Volume I, Part II, xix-xxi (end of Part II). (From “The attack of the sixth chasseurs” to “Bagration’s detachment joined Kutuzov’s army.”)

Day 15

September 29, 2021 | Volume I, Part III, i-ii. (From “Prince Vassily did not think out his plans” to “the counts Bezukhov in Petersburg.”)

Day 16

September 30, 2021 | Volume I, Part III, iii-iv. (From “Old Prince Nikolai Andreich Bolkonsky received a letter” to “raising her finger and smiling, she left the room.”)

Day 17

October 1, 2021 | Volume I, Part III, v-vii. (From “They all dispersed” to “this hateful little adjutant.”)

Day 18

October 2, 2021 | Volume I, Part III, viii-ix. (From “On the day after the meeting” to “remained for a time with the Izmailovsky regiment.”)

Day 19

October 3, 2021 | Volume I, Part III, x-xiii. (From “At dawn on the sixteenth” to “worthy of my people, you, and myself. Napoleon.”)

Day 20

October 4, 2021 | Volume I, Part III, xiv-xvi. (From “At five o’clock in the morning” to “‘And thank God!’…”)

Day 21

October 5, 2021 | Volume I, Part III, xvii-xix (end of Volume I). (From “At nine o’clock” to “handed over to the care of the local inhabitants.”)

Day 22

October 6, 2021 | Volume II, Part I, i-iv. (From “At the beginning of 1806” to “Everyone was silent.”)

Day 23

October 7, 2021 | Volume II, Part I, v-x. (From “‘Well, begin!’ said Dolokhov” to “dinners, evening parties, and balls.”)

Day 24

October 8, 2021 | Volume II, Part I, xi-xvi (end of Part I). (From “On the third day of Christmas” to “which was already in Poland.”)

Day 25

October 9, 2021 | Volume II, Part II, i-iii. (From “After his talk with his wife” to “with joy and tender feeling.”)

Day 26

October 10, 2021 | Volume II, Part II, iv-vii. (From “Soon after that, it was not the rhetor” to “an intimate of Countess Bezukhov’s house.”)

Day 27

October 11, 2021 | Volume II, Part II, viii-x. (From “The war was heating up” to “that is, all they could.”)

Day 28

October 12, 2021 | Volume II, Part II, xi-xv. (From “Returning from his southern journey” to “Rostov noticed tears in Denisov’s eyes.”)

Day 29

October 13, 2021 | Volume II, Part II, xvi-xxi (end of Part II). (From "In the month of October" to "’Hey, you! Another bottle!’ he shouted.”)

Day 30

October 14, 2021 | Volume II, Part III, i-v. (From "In 1808 the emperor Alexander went" to "trying not to be noticed, left the room.")

Day 31

October 15, 2021 | Volume II, Part III, vi-x. (From "During the initial time of his stay in Petersburg" to "if Thou forsakest me altogether.")

Day 32

October 16, 2021 | Volume II, Part III, xi-xv. (From “The financial affairs of the Rostovs" to "the way he does with these ladies.")

Day 33

October 17, 2021 | Volume II, Part III, xvi-xxi. (From "Suddenly everything stirred" to "and Berg drew Pierre into it.")

Day 34

October 18, 2021 | Volume II, Part III, xxii-xxvi (end of Part III). (From “"The next day Prince Andrei went to the Rostovs'" to "she loved her father and her nephew more than God.")

Day 35

October 19, 2021 | Volume II, Part IV, i-v. (From “Biblical tradition says that absence of work" to "shyly smiled his childishly meek and pleasant smile.")

Day 36

October 20, 2021 | Volume II, Part IV, vi-viii. (From “The old count rode home" to "Things were not cheerful in the Rostovs' house.")

Day 37

October 21, 2021 | Volume II, Part IV, ix-xiii (end of Part IV). (From “Christmastime came" to "went to Moscow at the end of January.")

Day 38

October 22, 2021 | Volume II, Part V, i-iv. (From “After the engagement" to "try to get the old prince used to her.")

Day 39

October 23, 2021 | Volume II, Part V, v-viii. (From “Boris had failed to marry" to "Natasha also began to look.")

Day 40

October 24, 2021 | Volume II, Part V, ix-xiii. (From "The stage consisted of flat boards" to "no answers to these terrible questions.")

Day 41

October 25, 2021 | Volume II, Part V, xiv-xvii. (From "Morning came with its cares" to "ran back with him to the troika.")

Day 42

October 26, 2021 | Volume II, Part V, xviii-xxii (end of Volume II). (From "Marya Dmitrievna, finding the weeping Sonya" to "now blossoming into new life.")

Day 43

October 27, 2021 | Volume III, Part I, i-v. (From "Since the end of the year 1811" to "Alexander had sent him off.")

Day 44

October 28, 2021 | Volume III, Part I, vi-viii. (From “Accustomed though Balashov was" to "presented themselves to Prince Andrei one after the other.")

Day 45

October 29, 2021 | Volume III, Part I, ix-xii. (From "Prince Andrei arrived in the general headquarters" to "'Here. What lightning!' they said to each other.")

Day 46

October 30, 2021 | Volume III, Part I, xiii-xviii. (From "In an abandoned tavern" to "'And it seemed to her that God heard her prayer.")

Day 47

October 31, 2021 | Volume III, Part I, xix-xxiii (end of Part I). (From "Since the day when Pierre, leaving the Rostovs'" to "astonished at what they had done.")

Day 48

November 1, 2021 | Volume III, Part II, i-iv. (From “Napoleon started the war with Russia" to "he spurred his horse and rode down the lane.")

Day 49

November 2, 2021 | Volume III, Part II, v-vii. (From “From Smolensk the troops continued to retreat" to "He gave Lavrushka another horse and took him along”)

Day 50

November 3, 2021 | Volume III, Part II, viii-x. (From “Princess Marya was not in Moscow" to "she was ready to do everything for him and for the muzhiks.")

Day 51

November 4, 2021 | Volume III, Part II, xi-xv. (From “An hour later Dunyasha came to the princess” to “‘Oh, German scrupulosity!’ he said, shaking his head.”)

Day 52

November 5, 2021 | Volume III, Part II, xvi-xix. (From “‘Well, that’s all now!’ said Kutuzov” to “three hours from total destruction and flight.”)

Day 53

November 6, 2021 | Volume III, Part II, xx-xxiv. (From “On the morning of the twenty-fifth” to “’They’d gone to the estate outside Moscow.’”)

Day 54

November 7, 2021 | Volume III, Part II, xxv-xxviii. (From “The officers wanted to take their leave” to “worthily fulfilled his role of seeming to command.”)

Day 55

November 8, 2021 | Volume III, Part II, xxix-xxxii. (From “Having returned from a second preoccupied ride” to “a straining man crying out with his last strength.”)

Day 56

November 9, 2021 | Volume III, Part II, xxxiii-xxxv. (From “The main action of the battle of Borodino” to “vacillating men were comforted and reassured.”)

Day 57

November 10, 2021 | Volume III, Part II, xxxvi-xxxix (end of Part II). (From “Prince Andrei’s regiment was in the reserves” to “the hand of an adversary stronger in spirit.”)

Day 58

November 11, 2021 | Volume III, Part III, i-v. (From “For human reason, absolute continuity” to “enormous current of people which carried him along with it.”)

Day 59

November 12, 2021 | Volume III, Part III, vi-xi. (From “Hélène, having returned with the court” to “saw any more of Pierre or knew where he was.”)

Day 60

November 13, 2021 | Volume III, Part III, xii-xvi. (From “The Rostovs remained in the city” to “tried to take along as much as possible.”)

Day 61

November 14, 2021 | Volume III, Part III, xvii-xxi. (From “Towards two o’clock the Rostovs’ four carriages” to “the troops were now moving forward.”)

One of my favorite sentences from the novel: a monumental anticlimax.

Napoleon, “tired of vainly waiting and sensing with his actor’s intuition that the majestic moment, having gone on too long, was beginning to lose its majesty.”

Day 62

November 15, 2021 | Volume III, Part III, xxii-xxv. (From “The city itself, meanwhile, was empty” to “began shouting and dispersing the clustering carts.”)

Day 63

November 16, 2021 | Volume III, Part III, xxvi-xxix. (From “Towards four o’clock in the afternoon” to “lay down on the sofa and fell asleep at once.”)

Day 64

November 17, 2021 | Volume III, Part III, xxx-xxxiv (end of Volume III). (From “The glow of the first fire” to “Pierre was placed separately under strict guard.”)

Day 65

November 18, 2021 | Volume IV, Part I, i-v. (From “In Petersburg, in the highest circles, a complex struggle” to “kissing her plump little hand.”)

Day 66

November 19, 2021 | Volume IV, Part I, vi-x. (From “On arriving in Moscow after her meeting with Rostov” to “depriving him of life, everything, annihilating him.”)

Day 67

November 20, 2021 | Volume IV, Part I, xi-xiii. (From “From Prince Shcherbatov’s house, the prisoners” to “the value or the meaning of a word or act taken separately.”)

Day 68

November 21, 2021 | Volume IV, Part I, xiv-xvi (end of Part I). (From “On receiving from Nikolai the news” to “solemn mystery of death that had been accomplished before them.”)

Day 69

November 22, 2021 | Volume IV, Part II, i-vii. (From “The totality of causes of phenomena” to “the push was given which Napoleon’s army was only waiting for to begin its flight.”)

Day 70

November 23, 2021 | Volume IV, Part II, viii-xii. (From “Napoleon enters Moscow after the brilliant victory” to “Pierre felt that this view obliged him.”)

Day 71

November 24, 2021 | Volume IV, Part II, xiii-xix (end of Part I). (From “In the night of the sixth to seventh of October” to “along their same fatal path to Smolensk.”)

Day 72

November 25, 2021 | Volume IV, Part III, i-vi. (From “The battle of Borodino, with the subsequent occupation of Moscow” to “‘Well, tell me about yourself,’ he said.”)

Day 73

November 26, 2021 | Volume IV, Part III, vii-xii. (From “Petya, having left his family on their departure from Moscow” to “joyful and calming thoughts, memories, and images that came to him.”)

Day 74

November 27, 2021 | Volume IV, Part III, xiii-xix (end of Part III). (From “At noon on the twenty-second, Pierre” to “to threaten, but not to lash the running animal on the head.”)

Day 75

November 28, 2021 | Volume IV, Part IV, i-v. (From “When a man sees a dying animal” to “a lackey has his own idea of greatness.”)

Day 76

November 29, 2021 | Volume IV, Part IV, vi-xi. (From “The fifth of November was the first day” to “And so he died.”)

Day 77

November 30, 2021 | Volume IV, Part IV, xii-xvi. (From “Pierre, as most often happens, felt the whole burden” to “‘It’s the first time she’s spoken of him like that.’”)

Day 78

December 1, 2021 | Volume IV, Part IV, xvii-xx (end of Volume IV). (From ““Pierre was taken to the big, well-lit dining room” to “‘Right, Marie? It has to be so….’”)

Day 79

December 2, 2021 | Epilogue, Part I, i-v. (From “Seven years had passed since 1812” to “that gloomy state of mind which alone enabled him to endure his situation.”)

Day 80

December 3, 2021 | Epilogue, Part I, vi-ix. (From “At the beginning of winter, Princess Marya came to Moscow” to “which she involuntarily remembered at that moment.”)

Nikolai is a great character who changes: from a gambler to a farmer, from a carouser to a family man, from a teeanger dreaming on the battleground to a father dreaming about his daughter’s future. Yet he’s still himself, lovable and imperfect.

Day 81

December 4, 2021 | Epilogue, Part I, x-xiii. (From “Natasha was married in the early spring of 1813” to “when the stockings were finished.”)

Day 82

December 5, 2021 | Epilogue, Part I, xiv-xvi (end of Part I). (From “Soon after that, the children came to say good night” to “‘I’ll do something that even he would be pleased with…’”)

Day 83

December 6, 2021 | Epilogue, Part II, i-iv. (From “The subject of history is the life of peoples and of mankind” to “we will get the history of monarchs and writers, and not the history of the life of peoples.”)

Day 84

December 7, 2021 | Epilogue, Part II, v-viii. (From “The life of peoples cannot be contained” to “from their plastering point of view, everything comes out flat and smooth.”)

Day 85

December 8, 2021 | Epilogue, Part II, ix-xii (THE END). (From “For the solution of the question of freedom and necessity” to “it is just as necessary to renounce a nonexistent freedom and recognize a dependence we do not feel.”)

Sign up for A Public Space's Newsletter