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about norton edition
am 30. April 2000
This review is mainly about the 2nd edition of Norton Critical Edition of War and Peace. This book is superb. The layout now is much better compared to the first edition -- almost as good as A. A. Knopf -- which makes reading an enjoying. But there are certain drawbacks. The detailed content list has been dropped from the previous edition. If you are familiar with the content, there is no problem. Otherwise, it's not very convenient. Also some maps were omitted. Now we have only three maps of 1812 campaign. The are no maps of '05 or '07 campaigns. Also a list of main figures and brief chronology are appreciated since it's such a big book. A suggestion of the remedy--xerox what you need from, e.g., other editions and bring with you.
A common drawback in almost all current English translations and editions of W&P is the lack of the translations of French words. In my opinion, it's appropriate to keep the French usage in the context as the author desired but have the corresponding English translation in footnote. It should not be that difficult, shouldn't it?
Finally, my suggestion is: read the book, live with it at least for a period in your life. You can actually read from some very different viewpoints and the book presents itself in very different aspects when you do so. If you don't like it, it's OK. You can always enjoy life itself. I repulsed the book when I was young. But I go back to it after all.