#6: Leo Tolstoy, War & Peace, in two volumes. (Leningrad: Lenizdat, 1984, originally published in 1865). Marked 3 rubles, 70 kopeeks, but with a Beriozka sticker indicating 5.55. Exchange rate at the time was $1.26 per 1.00 ruble so the set cost $7.00
How did I get it? Bought it when I spent a semester in Moscow my junior year in 1984. Others went to London or Florence. For reasons that still elude me, I went to the Soviet Union. Who does that?
Why? While the book is timeless, my copy of it is not. The mass produced, acid-paper Soviet version is falling apart and turning to dust. It is now or never, and, during lockdown, I finally have some time to devote to it.
What? I’m a Dostoevsky man myself, but credit where credit is due. Tolstoy does capture a time and a place. His philosophy of history is distinctive–it moves, it is not moved by individuals–but he can be a hard read in other ways. His view of women….
Compromise with the times and my age: a very helpful internet aide-mémoire, and I am finding the French harder than the Russian.