editor Vyacheslav Repin
1 220 pp, 2 vol.
format : 210 mm x 140 mm
soft / hard cover
isbn : 978-2-35586-006-5 / 007-2
Grand The greatest classic of Russian literature written more than a century ago remains surprisingly modern and relevant to today’s life. This extraordinarily powerful text seems to have been written for our times, in which wars are becoming a fact of life. At the same time Tolstoy’s novel is a wonderful historical painting depicting the life of the Russian aristocracy during Napoleonic wars – a whirlpool of love and hate, adventure and entertainment, breathtaking action and deep, often witty and amusing philosophical considerations on human life and human society.
The richness of the text, the strikingly realistic details and the subtle psychological descriptions make this novel universally acknowledged as one of the major works of world literature. Recognised today an absolute classic of the novel genre, in its time War and Peace broke many of the established literary codes and created a new stream in fiction. This immortal masterpiece was already an outstanding success at the time of its publication (1865—1869) and has been one of the most highly praised novels in the world ever since.
The new French translation published by Temps & Périodes has been done in collaboration with leading scholars from Russia and France. It restores Tolstoi’s original text and fills gaps that had been left in previous translations. This new translation gives the novel a new impetus and offers a chance for those who know it (though TV or cinema adaptations) but have never read it, to discover this wonderful book. War and Peace deserves its reputation for being ‘huge’, but when you get to the end, you feel sorry there are not four more volumes to follow.
why a new translation?
First and foremost because it was high time the francophone reader was offered a translation conforming in every respect to the original text, unmarred by the desire to ‘improve as you go’. While every translation is inevitably conditioned by its epoch and by the translator’s individuality, we believe that it must strive to be as faithful as possible to the original. Such were not the traditions of the French translation school half a century ago. The two translations worth mentioning are those by Henri Mongault (1947) and by Boris de Schloezer (1960). Both possess undeniable qualities, but both are marked by their epoch and tend to depart too often from Tolstoy’s original text. It should be noted that Schloezer, an excellent translator, felt the need to produce a new version thirteen years after Mongault had published his. Was not a new version needed fifty years after Schloezer’s version?
Unlike the previous translators we believe that to translate is to trust the author. The translator must respect the author’s choice in keeping words or passages that may appear to him as awkward, notice and keep repetitions as well as supposedly heavy or confusing formulations, look out for hints and allusions and strive to find an equivalent in the new language. The translator must also strive to preserve Tolstoy’s unobtrusive but distinctive style, which is an essential component of his epos: all along the novel, the reader switches from one point of view to another. The individual perspectives of the novel’s numerous characters provide a multitude of frameworks through which the reader perceives the shimmering variety of life: its events, big and small, the beauty of nature, the absurdity of war, the mystery of existence.
We wanted to share this immense wealth with our francophone readers.
Count Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy (1828—1910) is, together with Fedor Dostoevsky, one of the two Titans of the second half of the nineteenth century: a period commonly known as the Golden Age of Russian literature. His three major novels War and Peace, Anna Karenina and Resurrection are known worldwide.
a word from the publisher
The “War and Peace Project” is the leading project of our relatively young publishing house. We have aimed our efforts at publishing a translation of the best possible quality: one that would remain as a reference for years to come. We have worked with the best and most reliable version of the Russian text from the scholarly edition of Tolstoy’s collected works. Our priority has been to render the Russian text as exactly as possible, and thus to make it appealing to the younger generation of francophone readers: while Tolstoy’s text possesses remarkable clarity and simplicity and has not lost an ounce of its pertinence, its previous French translations are often burdened by excessive stylistic academism and have aged rather badly. We believe that this outstanding text deserves the titanic efforts we have invested in translating it. First, this is the work of a genius who has himself rewritten these several thousands pages about ten times! It deserved to be treated with due respect. Second, this novel is unique as to the depth in which it studies the various sociologic and cultural ties connecting Russia and France. The need for an outstanding and contemporary French translation of it was obvious. We did our best and, it must be said, we are justifiably proud of the result.
around the book, dossier