On the last page of Part I of the Epilogue, in the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation, Nikolenka’s thoughts about his dead father, Prince Andrei, are a poignant benediction to a man whom we (the readers) know to have been more flawed than his son can understand. Nikolenka’s desire not to disappoint his vanished hero father is unbearably touching. “I ask God for only one thing,” Nikolenka thinks: “That it’s the same with me as with the men in Plutarch, and I’ll do the same. I’ll do better. Everybody will know me, love me, admire me.” Bursting into tears, he thinks to himself, “Father! Father! Yes, I’ll do something that even he would be pleased with.” These are the same sort of thoughts Andrei himself had, during his epiphany at the oak tree. In “War and Peace,” Tolstoy shows us, inimitably, how the cycle of life repeats itself, drawn on by the stories we tell ourselves of how good we could be — inspired by our idealistic notions of the better men and women who came before us, who were just as flawed as we are, and just as human. Coming to the end, yes: I long to start again.