In my hunt for a replacement copy of War and Peace I exhausted every Waterstones, W H Smith and charity shop in my home city and in the town where I work. Nothing.
If I’d been enjoying this book less I’d probably have continued reading my old Penguin version, grumbling away about the pages always falling out as I did so. The thing is, though, that I think I might be a bit in love with this book. I want a nice copy. One that’ll withstand multiple readings.
In the end I drove twenty miles down the road and found two copies for sale in Walker’s Books, Stamford. I came away with the Oxford World’s Classics edition, and very pretty it is too.
Much better I’m sure you’ll agree. There’s a lot to be said for reading a book that has all the pages still attached to the binding.
The translator of my old Penguin Classics version isn’t identified anywhere in the book but I know that my new copy is based on the Louise and Aylmer Maude translation. When I got home and compared the two more thoroughly I realised that they were more or less the same, with only a few small changes to some of the French passages in the first chapter. I know that the Maude translation is a well respected one and I’m actually quite relieved that I won’t be changing versions half way through the book. The other copy on the shelf in Walkers was the recent Anthony Briggs translation. It was slightly cheaper but I decided against it because I’d read mixed opinions of this one.
My new copy doesn’t have any extra footnotes but it does have a decent introduction, more detailed character lists, a timeline and some maps. Hopefully this will see me through the next half of the book, with a bit of help from the internet of course.
Since buying my new copy I’ve made it to roughly half way through the rest of Book 2. More on this later….