To read or not to read...
Well, at least it is for Moscow Times columnist and author Victor Sonkin who writes,
HarperCollins UK recently announced plans to publish a version of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" that will be two-thirds the length of the original. The text is based on one of Tolstoy's drafts (already issued in Russia by Zakharov publishers in 2000) and it omits many of the lengthy French passages and philosophical ramblings. It also has a happier ending: Two major characters, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky and Natasha's brother Petya Rostov, survive, unlike in the canonical version.
...Is that a good thing? ... My opinion, though, is that someone who knows the basic plot and ideas of "The Aeneid" or "Beowulf" is better off than someone who doesn't have a clue. Besides, an energetic synopsis can spur some people to plunge into the real thing.