TOLSTOY, Leo (1828-1910). Voina i Mir . [War and Peace]. Moscow: T. Ris [for the author], 1868-69.
Tolstoys use of details gave the book alone perhaps among all books – the appearance of actual life (Mirsky, p.271). War and Peace is one of the great nineteenth-century novels in any language, and stands at the peak of the realist mode. Isaak Babel once quipped that if the world could write by itself it would write like Tolstoy. Even Turgenev, whose quarrel with Tolstoy almost led to a duel, conceded that nothing better has been written by anyone in Russia, and probably nothing so good has ever been written. War and Peace was self-published, Tolstoy contracted Ris, advanced 4500 rubles for the printing of 4800 copies, and promised 30 percent of the gross profit to the printer and the proofreader. The enterprise showed a handsome return: War and Peace retailed for 10 rubles, and quickly went into a second edition following enthusiastic reviews. Kilgour 1195, not in Smirnov-Sokol’skii, Moia biblioteka . 6 volumes in 3, octavo (223 x 141mm). (Half titles and titles probably supplied, initial 3 leaves of first 2 tomes repaired at gutter, those to second tome touching some letters with no loss and with additional marginal repair at corners, occasional staining, one or two ink spots, light waterstain at upper inner corner of first tome, bound without rear endleaves.) Contemporary quarter leather, modern pebble-grained cloth, rebacked preserving the original spine (spine a little rubbed).