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War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Hosted by Yiyun Li
Began on September 15, 2021

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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

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

September 15, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 2

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

September 16, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 3

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.”)

September 17, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 4

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

September 18, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 5

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

September 19, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 6

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

September 20, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 7

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

September 21, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 8

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

September 22, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 9

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

September 23, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 10

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.)

September 24, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 11

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

September 25, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 12

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

September 26, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 13

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

September 27, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 14

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.”)

September 28, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 15

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

September 29, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 16

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.”)

September 30, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 17

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

October 1, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 18

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

October 2, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 19

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

October 3, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 20

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

October 4, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 21

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.”)

October 5, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 22

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

October 6, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 23

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

October 7, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 24

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

October 8, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 25

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

October 9, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 26

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

October 10, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 27

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

October 11, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 28

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

October 12, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 29

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

October 13, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 30

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

October 14, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 31

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

October 15, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 32

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

October 16, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 33

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

October 17, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 34

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.")

October 18, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 35

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

October 19, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 36

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

October 20, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 37

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

October 21, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 38

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

October 22, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 39

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

October 23, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 40

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

October 24, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 41

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

October 25, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 42

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

October 26, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 43

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

October 27, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 44

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

October 28, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 45

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

October 29, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 46

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

October 30, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 47

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.")

October 31, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 48

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

November 1, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 49

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

November 2, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 50

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.")

November 3, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 51

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

November 4, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 52

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

November 5, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 53

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

November 6, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 54

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

November 7, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 55

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

November 8, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 56

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

November 9, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 57

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.”)

November 10, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 58

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

November 11, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 59

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

November 12, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 60

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

November 13, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 61

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

November 14, 2021 by Yiyun Li

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

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

November 15, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 63

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.”)

November 16, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 64

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.”)

November 17, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 65

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

November 18, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 66

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

November 19, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 67

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.”)

November 20, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 68

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.”)

November 21, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 69

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.”)

November 22, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 70

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

November 23, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 71

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.”)

November 24, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 72

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.”)

November 25, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 73

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.”)

November 26, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 74

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.”)

November 27, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 75

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

November 28, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 76

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

November 29, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 77

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.’”)

November 30, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 78

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….’”)

December 1, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 79

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.”)

December 2, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 80

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

December 3, 2021 by Yiyun Li

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

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

December 4, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 82

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…’”)

December 5, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 83

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.”)

December 6, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 84

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.”)

December 7, 2021 by Yiyun Li

Day 85

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.”)

December 8, 2021 by Yiyun Li

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