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.