Seven Things Tolstoy and Mormon Have In Common

As I read War and Peace, it occurred to me that it has a bit in common with my favorite book, the Book of Mormon.

  1. Each narrator–Tolstoy in War and Peace, and Mormon in the Book of Mormon–is relating an epic historical tale about the history of his own nation, with its great successes and failures.
  2. Each book cites from older historical records in the course of its narrative, and makes references and allusions to countless others (see, for example, Part 10, chapter 27 or Part 13, chapter 2 in War and Peace, and Mosiah chapter 29 or Alma chapter 54 in the Book of Mormon).
  3. The further along each book goes, the more pronounced the narrator’s voice becomes; neither is neutral, but is intimately and passionately invested in their story. Indeed, each narrator breaks into the story with increasing frequency to openly editorialize about the narrative’s themes (see, for example, Part 11, chapter 1 in War and Peace, or Helaman chapter 12 in the Book of Mormon).
  4. Each narrator grounds his story in alternating tales of domestic conflict and military war.
  5. The military episodes largely focus on the patriotic exploits of one chief leader (Kutuzov in War and Peace, Moroni in the Book of Mormon).
  6. Each narrator uses these stories to comment on human nature and illustrate his themes about the meaning of life.
  7. Each narrator ultimately wants his story to show the readers that acknowledging Christ as God and patterning our lives after his is the way we should live. Each narrator openly testifies of this near the end of his story. In fact, each narrator, shortly before the climactic episode of his story, even recounts the interactions of protagonists with an idealized, morally perfect person who inspires others by his example (Platon Karataev in War and Peace, Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon).

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