SINCE its publication in 1869, Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace has presented the reader with the duel challenge of an eye-straining 1500 pages and an unerringly gloomy ending.Read the whole article here.
That, however, is now to change with the emergence of a slimmed down version of the literary classic with a happier conclusion.
HarperCollins, the publishing firm who will release the new book in April, describes the novel's brevity as "something to celebrate" while in Russia, the book is already being marketed as "half as long and twice as interesting" — despite the new book still running to a challenging 1000 pages.
By the time the original tale of love and loss set against the background of the Napoleonic wars reaches its conclusion, most of the 580 characters have died, suffered agonies or at least fallen on hard times.
But in the new book, taken from one of Tolstoy's earlier drafts, two of the main characters, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky and Petya Rostov, who die in the original, survive.
A spokesman for HarperCollins predicted it would have mass appeal. "The new version is of course aimed at students of Tolstoy," she said. "But we are sure it will also prove fascinating to the general reader."
Despite the publisher's upbeat assessment, literary critics and fans of the original are likely to be dismayed.
War and Peace... short and sweet?
From The Age: