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War and Peace is regularly interspersed with essays -- something that I have not seen anywhere else in literature. How significant are these essays? They obviously help in exploring the themes and messages of the novel, but how do they fit in the definition of fiction?

Large sections of the novel, especially the second epilogue, are philosophical discussions instead of a narrative. So I wondered whether this novel should be considered fiction, non-fiction or an amalgamation.

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    Hey, welcome to Literature! Can you clarify what you mean by "[fitting] in the defintion of fiction"? I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. – Shokhet Mar 19 '17 at 19:03
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    Large sections of the novel, especially the second epilogue are philosophical discussions instead of a narrative. So I wondered whether this novel should be considered fiction, non-fiction or an amalgamation. – user1089 Mar 19 '17 at 19:05
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    The fiction, non-fiction duality is a very anglo-saxon notion. In French literature for example no such line is drawn, we rather speak of "authorship pact" concerning the veracity or not of the story. I guess Russian litterature of C19 would not be subject either to this notion, but of course you can ask about how a modern anglo-saxon would characterize the book. – VicAche Mar 20 '17 at 10:53
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    Not seen anywhere else ... have a go at Les Miserables :D literature.stackexchange.com/q/197/168 – muru Mar 21 '17 at 2:18
  • It's definitely seen in later literature. Just off the top of my head: R.A. Heinleine's "Starship Troopers" in a way. Orson Scott Card's Ender series (e.g. essays by Locke and Demosthenes and Bean quoted). "Dune". – DVK Mar 31 '17 at 21:20
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I don't know whether this answer would be sufficient, but the essays in War and Peace probably wanted to acquaint the reader with the history and how strangely it moves. For example, in one of the essays the example of a steam train moving in different ways in different viewpoints is given. In this way Tolstoy probably wanted to show the various features and viewpoints of that particular part of Russian history.

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