25 War and Peace Quotes From the Classic Tolstoy Novel

Fans of classic novels will love these War and Peace quotes!

War and Peace is a classic novel by Russian author Leo Tolstoy, published in 1869 and translated into English in 1899.

The novel is 1,225 pages long and mixes fictional narrative with some chapters focused on history and philosophy.

The plot of War and Peace uses the stories of five Russian aristocratic families to tell the story of the impact of the French invasion of Russia and the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society.

Although War and Peace is a classic novel, Tolstoy felt that the best Russian literature doesn’t conform to standards and did not want to classify War and Peace as a novel or poem.

War and Peace is set 60 years before Tolstoy’s time, so in order to learn about the 1812 French invasion of Russia, he spoke with people who lived through it.

Take a look at these War and Peace quotes to learn more about this classic.

Words to Live By from War and Peace Quotes

War and Peace is a book that has stood the test of time for hundreds of years, and these quotes show why people are drawn to it.

1. “A battle is won by him who is firmly resolved to win it.” — Leo Tolstoy

2. “Everything I know, I know because of love.” — Leo Tolstoy

3. “Life is too long to say anything definitely; always say perhaps.” — Leo Tolstoy

4. “Kings are the slaves of history. — Leo Tolstoy

5. “The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” — Leo Tolstoy

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6. “If everyone fought for their own convictions, there would be no war.” — Leo Tolstoy

7. “Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy.” — Leo Tolstoy

8. “All we can know is that we know nothing. And that’s the height of human wisdom.” — Leo Tolstoy

9. “How often we sin, how much we deceive, and all for what?… All will end in death, all!” — Leo Tolstoy

10. “A man on a thousand-mile walk has to forget his goal and say to himself every morning, ‘Today I’m going to cover twenty-five miles and then rest up and sleep.” — Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Quotes to Make You Think

The following quotes allow you to reflect on the statements to see if you agree or disagree.

11. “There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.” — Leo Tolstoy

12. “We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” — Leo Tolstoy

13. “You can love a person dear to you with a human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love.” — Leo Tolstoy

14. “Man cannot possess anything as long as he fears death. But to him who does not fear it, everything belongs.” — Leo Tolstoy

15. “It’s too easy to criticize a man when he’s out of favour, and to make him shoulder the blame for everybody else’s mistakes.” — Leo Tolstoy

16. “In order to understand, observe, deduce, man must first be conscious of himself as alive.” — Leo Tolstoy

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17. “Man lives consciously for himself, but serves as an unconscious instrument for the achievement of historical, universally human goals.” — Leo Tolstoy

18. “We imagine that when we are thrown out of our usual ruts, all is lost, but it is only then that what is new and good begins.” — Leo Tolstoy

19. “Because of the self-confidence with which he had spoken, no one could tell whether what he said was very clever or very stupid.” — Leo Tolstoy

More War and Peace Quotes from the Famous Novel

Here are several popular quotes from the novel that show Tolstoy’s thoughts and perspective.

20. “If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed.” — Leo Tolstoy

21. “We love people not so much for the good they’ve done us, as for the good we’ve done them.” — Leo Tolstoy

22. “I often think how unfairly life’s good fortune is sometimes distributed.” — Leo Tolstoy

23. “I don’t think badly of people. I like everybody, and I’m sorry for everybody.” — Leo Tolstoy

24. “And once a deep wound heals over, and the edges seem to have knit, a wound in the soul, like a physical wound, can be healed only by the force of life pushing up from inside.” — Leo Tolstoy

25. “There is something so enchanting in the smile of melancholy. It is a ray of light in the darkness, a shade between sadness and despair, showing the possibility of consolation.” — Leo Tolstoy

The Process of Writing War and Peace

Tolstoy married and settled at his country estate in 1863 when he began writing War and Peace.

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He began diligent research on the Napoleonic period in Russia, wrote the first half of War and Peace, and called it “1805”.

Tolstoy was not satisfied with his first version and went about completing the book between 1866 and 1869.

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