I've seen copies of War and Peace with the old orthography.

  1. Does the old form carry a different connotation or meaning than the new?
  2. Is there a nuance in pronunciation that indicates awareness of this?

1 Answer 1


No, it's not true.

Russian has two homonymous words (both pronounced мир) for world and peace. Currently, they are homographes as well, but in the old orthography they were written мiръ and миръ, accordingly. The is one more word, мѵро (chrism), spelt using the third version of Russian i, and in sg. gen. (мѵра, мира, мiра) all three words were homophones but not homographes.

There is an urban legend that the original meaning of the title was War and the World, not War and Peace which was lost after the reform.

All known publications have the title spelt as Война и миръ. There was a typo in Brockhaus & Efron, the largest Russian encyclopaedia of the time, which is possibly the source for the legend:

Note that the bottom line has the title written correctly.

Here you can read more about this (in Russian).

Vladimir Mayakovsky wrote a poem in 1915 which was titled Война и мiръ, a pun on the title of Tolstoy's work. The pun was lost with the orthography reform.


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