And then, in complete contrast to the last chapter, Tolstoy flies up and gives us a bird’s eye view of what is actually going on.

Despite the fact that this chapter reads more like a history textbook than a narrative, it loses none of its interest, because of Tolstoy’s language abilities.  He sets out the options of the Russian army – suicidal, all of them.

He sets out the numbers of men facing each other – vastly outmatched.  By rights, Bagration’s little group of men, trying to hold off the French until the main force arrives, should all be wiped out.

But as my translation says: “a freak of fate made the impossible possible”.  General Murat, defying Napoleon’s orders, decides to make a truce for three days while he pulls together his men to thoroughly wipe out the Russian army.

. . . . not realising, of course, that this gives Kutuzov the time he needs to get all his forces to Bagration and also be in a position to join up with the troops coming from Russia.

So Kutuzov sends an acknowledgment of the truce (one that is not really legally binding) as well.

The amusing thing is that Napoleon sees through all of this straight away and gives Murat a very French earful.

The scene is set . . . see you tomorrow.

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 2.14 – A Bird’s Eye View

  1. Sorry for the delay in doing today’s post … it’s beena hectic few days and I have only just now managed to again catch up.

    It’s true – this chapter is in some ways like reading history. But it’s history as Tolstoy tells it – history that is shaped not by grand plans but by the millions of little things, the little quirks and blunders – in this case, the French making their mistaken attempt to repeat their little trick from the bridge of Tabor. Passages like this make me wonder how differently we might understand other great events of history, had Tolstoy had the oppotunity to write about them! I wonder how many other great things have happened because of the ways in which all those little quirks happen to come together?

  2. Buxhowden . . . what is this? A place?

    If Kutuzov decided to abandon the road connecting him with the troops arriving from Russia, he would have to march with no road into unknown parts of the Bohemian mountains, defending himself against superior forces of the enemy and abandoning all hope of a junction with Buxhowden.

    I’m adding these to my count of 212 . . .

    Spy – The French, the spy reported, having crossed the Vienna bridge, were advancing by forced marches toward Znaim, which lay sixty-six miles off on the line of Kutuzov’s retreat.

    (That’s the only one . . . unless the mention of Adjutant General Wintzingerode is another character (he’s already mentioned earlier on – is this another ‘Wintzingerode’)

    213

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