War and Peace

Autumn 2016-2017

28912 / 32302

William Nickell

Written in the wake of the Crimean War (1856) and the emancipation of the serfs (1861), Tolstoy's War and Peace represents Russia's most important national narrative. Tolstoy chooses to set his tale during the Napoleonic wars, the epoch commonly regarded as the moment of national awakening, which gave rise to major social and political transformations within the Russian society that were still underway at the time when Tolstoy wrote and published his epic. Reading War and Peace we not only learn a lot about Russian history and culture, but also have a rare chance to visit the writer's workshop and witness the creation of a completely original, organic work of art. It is a telling fact that Tolstoy's novel-epic-a unique hybrid of several different genres deliberately designed as a riposte to the typical West European novel - was never finalized, because after publishing this work in a serial form in a leading "thick journal" Tolstoy continued to return to War and Peace throughout the rest of his life. This course will focus on both the artistic and intellectual facets of War and Peace. This course is recommended for students interested in Russian and European literature, history and political science as well as those who are building a Fundamentals major. The course is open to all undergraduates and some graduate students (by consent). Reading, discussion and papers will be in English. Undergraduate: (B, G, H)