Leo Tolstoy - "War and Peace" (BBC, Complete and Unabriged)
Epic historical novel by Leo Tolstoy, originally published as Voyna i mir in 1865-69. This panoramic study of early 19th-century Russian society, noted for its mastery of realistic detail and variety of psychological analysis, is generally regarded as one of the world's greatest novels. War and Peace is primarily concerned with the histories of five aristocratic families--particularly the Bezukhovs, the Bolkonskys, and the Rostovs--the members of which are portrayed against a vivid background of Russian social life during the war against Napoleon (1805-14). The theme of war, however, is subordinate to the story of family existence, which involves Tolstoy's optimistic belief in the life-asserting pattern of human existence. The heroine, Natasha Rostova, for example, reaches her greatest fulfillment through her marriage to Pierre Bezukhov and her motherhood. The novel also sets forth a theory of history, concluding that there is a minimum of free choice; all is ruled by an inexorable historical determinism.
Quotation: "Pierre felt like a man who finds what he has sought at his feet, when he has been straining his eyes to seek it in the distance. All his life he had been looking far away over the heads of all around him, while he need not have strained his eyes, but had only to look in front of him."