This chapter details very simply a journey by Prince Andrei from the field of battle where the Russians finally won their first (albeit minor) victory against the French.  After lots of retreats and with the Russians and Austrians getting whupped on all sides, to the Russians, it was all very exciting to finally win a skirmish.

But as Prince Andrey sets out on his coach ride to visit the Austrian emperor, the battlefield falls further and further behind.  And then, much to his annoyance, the Austrians don’t even seem to care about the message . . .

This is another of the strands of Tolstoy’s philosophy of war that will become more developed later – there is a vast gap between the reality of what actually happens on the battlefield and what happens in official reports.

Most often, his point is made with grand strategies being pronounced successful, when the reality was everything was in a shambles.  But in this case, there was a victory, but it’s a victory to no one but the Russians.  The Austrians don’t really acknowledge it.  Why?  That’s the next chapter.

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 2.9 – The Distance Between Reality & Report

  1. The other thing about this chapter that I like is the way that it conveys such a powerful sense of disillusionment. Andrey feels so sure that he will be seen as a hero, that he will be received enthusiastically and immediately by the Austrian Emperor but, instead, he is left to wait, eventually gets to see the Minister of War instead, and gets some vague indication that he might see the Emperor tomorrow. Nothing has happened as he thought it would. Slowly, but surely and relentlessly, it seems, everyone’s romanticised views of war, and of the parts they each play in it, are being brought down to ground level.

  2. That was a bummer, Andrei all excited, expecting his news to be a big item, and nobody wants to hear it.

    To my count of 171, I am adding the following:

    Dokhturov – Despite his apparently delicate build Prince Andrew could endure physical fatigue far better than many very muscular men, and on the night of the battle, having arrived at Krems excited but not weary, with dispatches from Dokhturov to Kutuzov, he was sent immediately with a special dispatch to Brunn.

    Driver – Prince Andrew told his driver to stop, and asked a soldier in what action they had been wounded.

    Euer Hochgeboren – “To the right from the corridor, Euer Hochgeboren! There you will find the adjutant on duty,” said the official. “He will conduct you to the Minister of War.”

    Mortier – On the thirtieth he attacked Mortier’s division, which was on the left bank, and broke it up.

    Palace Official – At the chief entrance to the palace, however, an official came running out to meet him, and learning that he was a special messenger led him to another entrance.

    Russian Officer in Charge of Transport – The Russian officer in charge of the transport lolled back in the front cart, shouting and scolding a soldier with coarse abuse.

    Schmidt – Prince Andrew during the battle had been in attendance on the Austrian General Schmidt, who was killed in the action.

    Soldier – as above

    179

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