War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
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The novel War and Peace begins in the year 1805 during the reign of Tsar Alexander I and leads up to the 1812 French invasion of Russia by Napoleon. The era of Catherine the Great (from 1762–1796), when the royal court in Paris was the centre of western European civilization, is still fresh in the minds of older people. Catherine, fluent in French and wishing to reshape Russia into a great European nation, made French the language of her royal court. For the next one hundred years, it became a social requirement for members of the Russian nobility to speak French and understand French culture. This historical and cultural context in the aristocracy is reflected in War and Peace.
- H&F, July 2013
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