War and Peace Quotes

war and peace quotes


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

“Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.”


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


“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”

“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.”


“The whole world is divided for me into two parts: one is she, and there is all happiness, hope, light; the other is where she is not, and there is dejection and darkness…”

“Pierre was right when he said that one must believe in the possibility of happiness in order to be happy, and I now believe in it. Let the dead bury the dead, but while I’m alive, I must live and be happy.”


“It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.”


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


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

“He had learned that, as there is no situation in the world in which a man can be happy and perfectly free, so there is no situation in which he can be perfectly unhappy and unfree.”


“Pierre’s insanity consisted in the face that he did not wait, as before, for personal reasons, which he called people’s merits, in order to love them, but love overflowed his heart, and loving people without reason, he discovered the unquestionable reasons for which it was worth loving them.”


“Chance created the situation; genius made use of it.”


“God is the same everywhere.”


“Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy.”


“Here I am alive, and it’s not my fault, so I have to try and get by as best I can without hurting anybody until death takes over.”


How can one be well…when one suffers morally?”

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“Man cannot possess anything as long as he fears death. But to him who does not fear it, everything belongs. If there was no suffering, man would not know his limits, would not know himself. ”


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


“It’s all God’s will: you can die in your sleep, and God can spare you in battle.”


“Human science fragments everything in order to understand it, kills everything in order to examine it. ”


“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.”


“Life did not stop, and one had to live.”

“Everything depends on upbringing. ”


“They say: sufferings are misfortunes,” said Pierre. ‘But if at once this minute, I was asked, would I remain what I was before I was taken prisoner, or go through it all again, I should say, for God’s sake let me rather be a prisoner and eat horseflesh again. We imagine that as soon as we are torn out of our habitual path all is over, but it is only the beginning of something new and good. As long as there is life, there is happiness. There is a great deal, a great deal before us.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“Kings are the slaves of history.”


“A Frenchman’s self-assurance stems from his belief that he is mentally and physically irresistibly fascinating to both men and women. An Englishman’s self-assurance is founded on his being a citizen of the best organized state in the world and on the fact that, as an Englishman, he always knows what to do, and that whatever he does as an Englishman is unquestionably correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets. A Russian is self-assured simply because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe in the possibility of knowing anything fully.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


“One must be cunning and wicked in this world.”


“In the best, the friendliest and simplest relations flattery or praise is necessary, just as grease is necessary to keep wheels turning. ”


“You say: I am not free. But I have raised and lowered my arm. Everyone understands that this illogical answer is an irrefutable proof of freedom.”


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

“Writing laws is easy, but governing is difficult.”


“There will be today, there will be tomorrow, there will be always, and there was yesterday, and there was the day before…”


“What is the cause of historical events? Power. What is power? Power is the sum total of wills transferred to one person. On what condition are the wills of the masses transferred to one person? On condition that the person express the will of the whole people. That is, power is power. That is, power is a word the meaning of which we do not understand. ”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


“everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait . . . there is nothing stronger than these two: patience and time, they will do it all.”


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


“Life is everything. Life is God. Everything shifts and moves, and this movement is God. And while there is life, there is delight in the self-awareness of the divinity. To love life is to love God. The hardest and most blissful thing is to love this life in one’s suffering, in the guiltlessness of suffering.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“A battle is won by him who is firmly resolved to win it.”


“When one’s head is gone one doesn’t weep over one’s hair!”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“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. While there is life there is happiness. There is much, much before us.”


“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, War and Peace


“But our idea is that the wolves should be fed and the sheep kept safe. ”


“It’s not those who are handsome we love, but those we love who are handsome.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


“He never chooses an opinion, he just wears whatever happens to be in style.”

“the same question arose in every soul: “For what, for whom, must I kill and be killed?”…


“I don’t give a damn unless I’m fond of a person;but I’d sacrifice my life for those I am fond of; the rest I’d throttle if they stood in my way…And you may not believe me but if I still set a value on life it is only because I still hope one day to meet such a heavenly creature who will regenarate me, purify me and elevate me. But you don’t understand that.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


“For if we allow that human life is always guided by reason, we destroy the premise that life is possible at all.”


“Life is too long to say anything definitely; always say perhaps.”


“He did what heroes do after their work is accomplished; he died.


“We are asleep until we fall in Love!”

“I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself.”

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


“For a few seconds they looked silently into each other’s eyes, and the distant and impossible suddenly became near, possible, and inevitable.”


“He had the unlucky capacity many men have of seeing and believing in the possibility of goodness and truth, but of seeing the evil and falsehood of life too clearly to take any serious part in it.”

“As if it doesn’t!” he said. “It’s happened to me that everything’s fine, everybody’s merry, and it suddenly comes into my head that it’s all tiresome and we all ought to die….”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace



“The Bible legend tells us that the absence of toil – idleness – was a condition of the first man’s state of bliss before the Fall. This love of idleness has remained the same in the fallen man, but the curse still lies heavy on the human race….because our moral nature is such that we are unable to be idle and at peace.”


“Each man lives for himself, uses his freedom to achieve his personal goals, and feels with his whole being that right now he can or cannot do such-and-such an action; but as soon as he does it, this action, committed at a certain moment in time, becomes irreversible, and makes itself the property of history, in which is has not a free but a predestined significance. ”


“They talked about peace, but did not believe in its possibility.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“Smiling with pleasure, they went through their memories, not sad, old people’s memories, but poetic, youthful ones, those impressions from the very distant past where dream merges with reality, and they laughed softly, rejoicing at something.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

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“Love hinders death. Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.” These thoughts seemed to him comforting. But they were only thoughts. Something was lacking in them, they were not clear, they were too one-sidedly personal and brain-spun. And there was the former agitation and obscurity.”


“Everything ends in death, everything. Death is terrible.”



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


“A good player who loses at chess is genuinely convinced hat he has lost because of a mistake, and he looks for this mistake in the beginning of his game, but forgets that there were also mistakes at ever step in the course of the game, that none of his moves was perfect. The mistake he pays attention to is conspicuous only because his opponent took advantage of it.”

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


“It’s different for you and me. You study, you become enlightened; I study, I become confused.”


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


“What is bad? What is good? What should one love, what hate? Why live, and what am I? What is lie,what is death? What power rules over everything?” he asked himself. And there was no answer to any of these questions except one, which was not logical and was not at all an answer to these questions. This answer was: “You will die–and everything will end. You will die and learn everything–or stop asking.”

“If there is a God and future life, there is truth and good, and man’s highest happiness consists in striving to attain them. We must live, we must love, and we must believe that we live not only today on this scrap of earth, but have lived and shall live”


“What she did not know, and would never have believed, was that though her soul seemed to have been grown over with an impenetrable layer of mould, some delicate blades of grass, young and tender, were already pushing their way upwards, destined to take root and send out living shoots so effectively that her all-consuming grief would soon be lost and forgotten. The wound was healing from inside.”


“Speech is silver but silence is golden.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“I think that when you remember, remember, remember everything like that, you could go on until you remember what was there before you were in the world. ”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


“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.”


“Time and Patience.”

“I often think how unfairly life’s good fortune is sometimes distributed. ”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


“There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are absent”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


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“This history of culture will explain to us the motives, the conditions of life, and the thought of the writer or reformer. ”


“But live while you live, tomorrow you die

“Power is a word the meaning of which we do not understand.”


“Every man had his personal habits, passions, and impulses toward goodness, beauty, and truth.”


“Nothing has been discovered, nothing has been invented. We can only know that we know nothing. And that’s the highest degree of human wisdom.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


“War is not a polite recreation, but the vilest thing in life, and we ought to realize this and not make a game of it… as it stands now it’s the favorite pastime of the idle and frivolous.”


“He remembered his mother’s love for him, and his family’s, and his friends’, and the enemy’s intention to kill him seemed impossible.”

“Pierre was one of those people who are strong only when they feel themselves perfectly pure.”


“Where there is law there is injustice”


“I feel not only that I cannot disappear, as nothing disappears in the world, but that I will always be and have always been. I feel that, besides me, above me, spirits live, and that in this world there is truth.”


“Her maternal instinct told her Natasha had too much of something, and because of this she would not be happy”


“The subject of history is the life of peoples and mankind.”

“What a terrible thing war is, what a terrible thing!”


“It seems as though mankind has forgotten the laws of its divine Saviour, Who preached love and forgiveness of injuries—and that men attribute the greatest merit to skill in killing one another.”

“At moments of departure and a change of life, people capable of reflecting on their actions usually get into a serious state of mind. At these moments they usually take stock of the past and make plans for the future.”

“Lay me down like a stone oh God, and raise me up like a new bread”.”


“Every reform by violence is to be deprecated, because it does little to correct the evil while men remain as they are, and because wisdom has no need of violence.”


“All the stories and descriptions of that time without exception peak only of the patriotism, self-sacrifice, despair, grief, and heroism of the Russians. But in reality it was not like that…The majority of the people paid no attention to the general course of events but were influenced only by their immediate personal interests.”


“Power is the sum total of the wills of the mass, transfered by express or tactic agreement to rulers chosen by the masses.”


“But despite the fact that the doctors treated him, bled him, and gave him medicines to drink — he recovered.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“But she was not even grateful to him for it; nothing good on Pierre’s part seemed to her to be an effort, it seemed so natural for him to be kind to everyone that there was no merit in his kindness.”

“He was always in a hurry to get where he was not.”

“Send him to the devil, I’m busy.”


“Looking into Napoleon’s eyes, Prince Andrei thought about the insignificance of grandeur, about the insignificance of life, the meaning of which no one could understand, and about the still greater insignificance of death, the meaning of which no one among the living could understand or explain.”


“We are forced to fall back on fatalism as an explanation of irrational events (that is to say, events the reasonableness of which we do not understand).”


“Millions of men, renouncing their human feelings and reason, had to go from west to east to slay their fellows, just as some centuries previously hordes of men had come from the east to the west slaying their fellows.”


“Man can be master of nothing while he fears death, but he who does not fear it possesses all. If there were no suffering, man would not know his limitations, would not know himself. The hardest thing is to be able in your soul to unite the meaning of all. To unite all? Pierre asked himself. “No, not to unite. Thoughts cannot be united, but to harness all these thoughts together is what we need! Yes, one must harness them, must harness them!”

“It was as if the main screw in his head, which held his whole life together, had become stripped. The screw would not go in, would not come out, but turned in the same groove without catching hold, and it was impossible to stop turning it.”


“Drops Dripped. Quiet talk went on. Horses neighed and scuffled. Someone snored.”


“When an apple has ripened and falls, why does it fall? Because of its attraction to the earth, because its stalk withers, because it is dried by the sun, because it grows heavier, because the wind shakes it, or because the boy standing below wants to eat it?”


“Pure, perfect sorrow is as impossible as pure and perfect joy.”


“When in doubt, my dear fellow, do nothing.”


“Spring, love, happiness! Are you not weary of that stupid, meaningless, constantly repeated fraud? Always the same and always a fraud! There is no spring, no sun, no happiness!”

“And so there was no single cause for war, but it happened simply because it had to happen”

“We do not love people so much for the good they have done us, as for the good we do them”


“Life meanwhile, the actual life of men with their real interests of health and sickness, labour and rest, with their interests of thought, science, poetry, music, love, affection, hatred, passion, went its way, as always, independently, apart from the political amity or enmity of Napoleon Bonaparte, and apart from all possible reforms.”

“The subject of history is the life of peoples and of humanity. To catch and pin down in words–that is, to describe directly the life, not only of humanity, but even of a single people, appears to be impossible.”

“Does it ever happen to you,” Natasha said to her brother, when they had settled in the sitting room, “does it ever happen to you that you feel there’s nothing more – nothing; that everything good has already happened? And it’s not really boring, but sad?”


“As is always the case with a thoroughly attractive woman, her defect—the shortness of her upper lip and her half-open mouth—seemed to be her own special and peculiar form of beauty.”

“We know that man has the faculty of becoming completely absorbed in a subject however trivial it may be, and that there is no subject so trivial that it will not grow to infinite proportions if one’s entire attention is devoted to it.”


“It is very difficult to tell the truth, and young people are rarely capable of it.”

The higher a man’s place in the social scale, the more connections has with others, and the more power he has over them, the more conspicuous is the inevitability and predestination of every act he commits. “The hearts of kings are in the hand of God.” The king is the slave of history.”


“There are two aspects to the life of every man: the personal life, which is free in proportion as its interests are abstract, and the elemental life of the swarm, in which a man must inevitably follow the laws laid down for him.


“Natasha was happy as she had never been in her life. She was at that highest pitch of happiness, when one becomes completely good and kind, and disbelieves in the very possibility of evil, unhappiness, and sorrow.”


“At that moment it meant nothing to him who might be standing over him, or what was said of him; he was only glad that people were standing near him and only wished that they would help him and bring him back to life, which seemed to him so beautiful now that he had today learned to understand it so differently.”