Unexampled shocking experiment on the Russian classical literature

11:02 PM / Posted by Linda McGregory /

American publishing house "Harper Collins" is going to publish a new "adapted" version of "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy. The original version of 4 volumes will be shortened to about 900 pages. The editors suppose to address this book to the students studying creative work of Leo Tolstoy and other Russian classical writers. They think that it will be also interested to those who consider the original version to to be too long and difficult for reading. Thus, the parts of the book concerning battle scenes, philosophic speculations and lyrical descriptions of the nature will be cut off. "Harper Collins" says that these changes will be made according to the old original version of the book which has been found by them in archival manuscript copies written by the hand of Tolstoy and which has never been published before.

Together with it, the end of the book will be changed. The dramatic orientation of the book loses its significance. The book is going to present a typical Hollywood "happy end": the prince Andrey Bolkonsky will not die of his wounds, he got during the battle of Borodino, Peter Bezukhov will be alive and young. Thanks God, Natasha Rostova will have time to marry him...

First "War and Peace" was published by Leo Tolstoy from 1865 to 1869 in "Russki Vestnik" and told the story of Russia society during the Napoleonic Era. It is usually described as one of Tolstoy's two major masterpieces (the other being Anna Karenina) as well as one of the world's greatest novels. Indeed, in January 2007, Time magazine placed it third in their list of The 10 Greatest Books of All Time. Anna Karenina topped the list.
War and Peace offered a new kind of fiction, with a great many characters caught up in a plot that covered nothing less than the grand subjects indicated by the title, combined with the equally large topics of youth, age and marriage. While today it is considered a novel, it broke so many novelistic conventions of its day that many critics of Tolstoy's time did not consider it as such. It was Tolstoy who translated this book first into French. In 1885 Clara Bell translated it from French into English.

The professor of the Russian language and literature Anthony Briggs published his English translation of "War and Peace" in 2005. He responded to this news in a critical way. "To say that it's an original is a nonsense. It's a Hollywood happy-end version, accented on the sales. Frankly speaking, it is scandalous! Don't try to cheat us", he says.

The question is who will be the next. It's not bad to leave Juliet and Romeo alive. Why not change "American Tragedy" to "American Comedy"? It's unfair, isn't it?