"...hack it, hack it- hack it to pieces, man, I've had it- and you can have it"
- Mike Roe/ 77's "I Could Laugh"
So I finally finished War And Peace. A great novel, honestly. Actually, it's got about 5 great novels in there, which is why it's so darn long. And a book of philosophy of war mixed in. Didn't expect to get that in a novel, did you? Me neither!
So, in order that you might "read" this book without undue pain, and realizing it to be the sacrilege of all blasphemies, I'll offer a few different reading plans to you that will, I hope, get you to pick up the book rather than simply avoid it like I had up 'til this point.
The "All Story" Plan:
This one gets rid of Tolstoy's historical commentary about what a great leader is and how world events are never caused by just one person. Also chapters and events that don't concern the main characters AT ALL. It skips a full understanding of the war for following the actual story of the novel.
Book 3, Part One, Chapters 1, 2, 4-7 (23 pp)
Part Two, Chapters 1 (4), 19 (4), 26-29 (12), 33, 34 (6), 38 (5)
Part Three, Chapters 1-5 (15), 19-26 (32) [the French enter Moscow]
Book 4, Part One, Chapter 3 (3)
Part Two, Chapters 1-10 (25), 15-19 (12)
Part Three, Chapters 1, 2 (5), 16-19 (10)
Part Four, Chapters 4-11 (24), 14 (2)
Epilogue, Part One, Chapters 1-4 (10)
Part Two, Chapters 1-12 (43) [The entire rest of the novel]
Doing this, assuming my math is correct, you would skip 235 pages of the 1455 pg. novel (in the Signet Classic paperback that I read).
Is that worthwhile? Can you say you "read" War and Peace if you haven't read those parts? Do you care about saying that? (I'll be honest, I did- but I'm sharing with you so you don't have to). If you have an obsessive gene or two, read the whole thing. Otherwise, you're not missing any part of the story if you do this. I would especially advise skipping Part Two of the Epilogue if nothing else: it adds NOTHING (in my opinion- I'm sure I'd be burned at the stake for saying that).