Again, by using the technique of limiting us to one character and his observations, we get a blinkered view of what’s going on. From Andrei’s perspective as he heads back to Kutuzov, the wheels are falling off everything. The incident with the drunken officer and the woman on the road only serve to highlight that the army seems to be breaking down in terms of discipline.

There is the rumour that the Austrians have betrayed Russia – but have they or haven’t they? We don’t know yet. It’s all rumours, and there is no truth to be found.

And then, the chapter finishes with Andrei’s death wish – or is that too strong a term? He meets Prince Bagration, being sent into a battle with the strong likelihood of losing most of his men – and Andrei begs Kutuzov to let him join Bagration.

Always, fascinatingly, with Andrei – is this desire to be a big hero, to do something noble. If it was peace time, he would probably be suffering from depression. But in war time, he finds an outlet for these dreams of making noble sacrifices and saving armies.

Have you ever felt like that sometimes? Like your destiny is somewhere else, but you can’t really break into it from the life you are currently in?

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 2.13 – Things Fall Apart

  1. Yes, indeed. I, and I’m sure most of us, have at times felt that we somehow “belong” somewhere different, somewhere greater, than where we are. But is this what Andrei feels here? Is he yearning for his destiny, or simply chasing something which is, at best, glorious and, at worst, crassly exciting? I guess like all of Tolstoy’s character’s, Andrei has so many facets to him, and so there is a mixture of all this in him. I’m sure he would himself think of his motives as noble – but, at times, I feel , at least at this stage, that Andrei is motivated by little more than the desire to escape the boredom which characterised his life in Part 1. Be careful what you wish for, Andrei!

    Anyway, don’t you just love the description of the retreating soldiers, near the beginning of this chapter – too long to quote here, but one sentence, for me, sticks out: “Soldiers, sunk in mud up to their knees, carried canon and wagons with their hands; whips lashed, hooves slipped, traces snapped, and chest strained with shouting”. A wonderful, dismal, image!!

  2. I’ll be adding these people to my count . . .

    Bagration –

    Bagration, a gaunt middle-aged man of medium height with a firm, impassive face of Oriental type, came out after the commander in chief.

    Clerk –

    “Second line… have you written it?” he continued dictating to the clerk. “The Kiev Grenadiers, Podolian…”

    Cossacks (2) . . .

    Prince Andrew took a horse and a Cossack from a Cossack commander, and hungry and weary, making his way past the baggage wagons, rode in search of the commander in chief and of his own luggage.

    Doctor of the Seventh Chasseurs – I am the wife of the doctor of the Seventh Chasseurs….

    Officer With Whip – An officer in charge of transport was beating the soldier who was driving the woman’s vehicle for trying to get ahead of others, and the strokes of his whip fell on the apron of the equipage.

    Peter – Andrei’s man . . .

    And God only knows where your man Peter is,” said the other adjutant.

    Soldier –

    A soldier was driving, and a woman enveloped in shawls sat behind the apron under the leather hood of the vehicle.

    Weyrother –

    Kutuzov himself, he was told, was in the house with Prince Bagration and Weyrother.

    Woman in Shawl – see above

    212

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