War and Peace facts for kids
War and Peace (Russian: Война и мир) is a famous novel written by Leo Tolstoy, a Russian writer. It is about four families of noblemen in Russia during the wars with Napoleon, and how they deal with the war and with one another.
Tolstoy described War and Peace as "not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less an historical chronicle."
The book describes Russian life in the 19th century, and also tells about Tolstoy's own idea about free will, history, and how events unfold.
There are 580 characters in War and Peace, but these are the main characters:
- Pierre Bezukhov: a thoughtful man. Even though he is quite clever, he does not think cleverness is the most important thing, like his friend Andrei. He can be very emotional, and this can get him into trouble. His final marriage with Natasha makes him happy in the end. Some people think he is like Tolstoy.
- Natasha Rostova: she is a very happy, energetic, lively girl. She is the opposite of Helene (Elena) Kuragina, her husband's first wife. Almost everybody she meets likes her. Even though she is very charming, she is not proud or silly. She is very emotional. By the end of the book she has married Pierre. Throughout the book her character goes through many changes.
- Andrei Bolkonski: he is a good man, like Pierre, but in a very different way. He is much less emotional than his friend, even though he loves his country and is honest.
- Maria (Marya) Bolkonskaya: Andrei's sister. She is a very gentle, patient girl, who never complains even when her father is unkind to her. She is lonely and plain, but the book says she has beautiful eyes, and her heart is loving and Christian. She marries Nikolai and is happy.
- Nikolai Rostov: like his sister Natasha, Nikolai is very impetuous. He gets angry easily, but loves his family. Altough his gambling habits cause his family to go into debt.
- Napoleon: the small, plump, and very proud emperor of France. He is also the leader in battle. He is selfish and loves power: Tolstoy wrote about him mostly in a negative way.
- General Kutuzov: An old, fat general with only one eye who leads Russia in battle. He is very different from proud Napoleon, because he is humble and fears God. He is also more careful and thoughtful.
- Elena Kuragina (Helene Kuragina): Pierre's first wife. She is cold, selfish, stupid, and proud, but very beautiful. She marries Pierre, but cheats on him and has a relationship with Dolokhov.
- Dolokhov: A handsome Russian army soldier. He is a friend of Nikolai. He likes Helene and has a love affair with her at first, but after he fights with Pierre because of it, he starts liking Sonya. He even asks her to marry him. However, Sonya says no, and he angrily goes away. He makes Nikolai gamble and lose a lot of money. Later, he tries to help Anatoly Kuragin run away with Natasha.
- Sonya Rostova: The pretty, shy, and humble cousin of Nikolai and Natasha. She lives with them and used to love Nikolai, but generously lets him marry rich Princess Marya to help the family and make him happy.
- Anatoly Kuragin: Helene's brother. He spends too much money and does wrong. At first he was going to marry rich Princess Marya just for her money, but she said no. He fell in love with Natasha at an opera and tried to run away with her. Because of this, Natasha and Prince Andrei fought, and could not marry.
Images for kids
Only known color photograph of the author, Leo Tolstoy, taken at his Yasnaya Polyana estate in 1908 (age 79) by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky.
The Empress Dowager, Maria Feodorovna, mother of reigning Tsar Alexander I, is the most powerful woman in the Russian royal court.
The Battle of Borodino, fought on September 7, 1812 and involving more than a quarter of a million troops and seventy thousand casualties was a turning point in Napoleon's failed campaign to defeat Russia. It is vividly depicted through the plot and characters of War and Peace.Painting by Louis-François, Baron Lejeune, 1822.
Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. Painting by Adolf Northern (1828–1876)
Leonid Pasternak's 1893 illustration to War and Peace