Some critics hold that War and Peace (1867) is too disjointed to be considered a true literary masterpiece, but it is precisely its digressions into the philosophy of history that lift Tolstoy’s epic novel to the highest realms of contemplative discourse. Whereas sticklers for a straightforward narrative style may blame the side discussions about psychology and “Providence” for pulling readers out of the story, others laud these asides for adding layers of richness and meaning to Tolstoy’s tale of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.

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