One must read, reread, think and rethink to understand War & Peace. I have tried my best to come up with some of the noteworthy quotations to inspire you to give this book a try. It looks intimidating, but its worth your time. I have tried to resist the temptation of writing paragraphs and pages from the book, because then it would have been excerpts and extracts and not quotations. So, here are some of the noteworthy quotations from the epic War & Peace:
Nothing is forever
It is not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more so than in what they consider right or wrong.
..this feeling (of love) is stronger than I am.
The whole world is divided for me into two parts: one is she, and there is all the happiness, hope, light; the other is where she is not, and there everything is dejection and darkness..
Don’t think that grief is caused by people. People are His instruments. Grief is sent by Him, not by people. People are His instruments, they are not to blame. If it seems to you that someone is to blame before you, forget it and forgive. We have no right to punish. And you will know that happiness is forgiveness.
A battle is won by him who is firmly resolved to win it.
…what is war, what is needed for success in military affairs, what are the morals of military society? The aim of war is killing, the instruments of war are espionage, treason and the encouragement of it, the ruin of the inhabitants, robbing them or stealing to supply the army; deception and lying are called military stratagems; the morals of military estate are absence of freedom, that is, discipline, idleness, ignorance, cruelty, depravity, and drunkenness. And in spite of that, it is the highest estate, respected by all
War isn’t courtesy, it’s the vilest thing in the world, and we must understand that and not play at war…
To live only so as not to do evil, so as not to repent, is too little. I used to live that way, I lived for myself and I ruined my life. And only now, when I live, or at least try to live for others, only now I have understood all the happiness of life.
…that man is created for happiness, that happiness is within him, in the satisfying of natural human needs, and that all the happiness comes not from lack, but from superfluity…there is no situation in the world in which a man can be happy and perfectly free..
…The source of blessedness is not outside, but inside us…
Can it be that this stranger has now become everything for me?
Why ask? Why doubt when you cannot help knowing? Why speak when it’s impossible to put everything you feel into words?
However, a great number of monasteries and churches is always a sign of a nation’s backwardness
A city occupied by enemy is like a girl who has lost her honour
…there is nothing stronger that those two warriors, patience and time; they’d do it all…
When in doubt, my dear…abstain
When an apple ripens and falls- what makes it fall? Is it that it is attracted tot he ground, is it that the stem withers, is it that the sun has dried it up, that it has grown heavier, that the wind shakes it, that the boy standing underneath it wants to eat it?
…in military matters the most profoundly devised plans meant nothing, that everything depended on how one responded to the unexpected and unpredictable actions of the enemy, that everything depended on how and by whom the action was conducted.
A good commander not only does not need genius or any special qualities, but, on the contrary, he needs the absence of the best and the highest qualities- love, poetry, tenderness, a searching philosophical doubt. He should be limited, firmly convinced that what he is doing is very important (otherwise he would not have enough patience), and only then will he be a brave commander. God forbid that he should be a human being and come to love or pity someone, or start thinking what is just and what isn’t.
…one cannot get used to danger…
..the greatest attention was accorded to totally extraneous events, which had no relation to the battle…
The work of the commander in chief seems to be merely to choose one of the (proposed) plans. But he cannot even do that. Events and time do not wait
And as it happens in matters of cunning that a stupid person tricks the more intelligent..
If we allow that human life can be governed by reason, the possibility of life is annihilated.
…the view of what the good of mankind is changes with each new year, with each new writer; so that in ten years what seemed good looks like evil, and vice versa.
Behind lay destruction, ahead lay hope.
To him who has will be given, from who has not will be taken.
PS: Due to the nature of the book, I might have missed some essential quotations, you are, however, most welcome to add to the list by commenting below and I shall be happy to update the current post.
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