Sorry, folks, I don’t know what happened to my blog post – for some reason, everything I wrote has come up as the word “undefined” . . . WordPress, what are you doing to me?
Sadly, all my thoughts from this moment have vanished, but I was going to say, the surreal nature of the front line here is what is so impressive. A couple of officers are getting drunk and eating food in a tent over here, another one is getting whipped for stealing over there (a subtle reminder of the Telyanin incident).
All of this is, of course, Tolstoy’s way of driving home the surreal nature of the moment – a Russian army, some of whom are believing the French will surrender, but hearing news of battle and the rest of whom are believing the French will fight, but hearing news of surrender. And, of course, we know it’s actually both – because of all the complex trickery from the previous chapter.
But, really, the greatest moment in the chapter has to be the return of Dolokhov. I don’t know whether Tolstoy had as much fun writing him as I have reading him, but you wouldn’t cut this from the book for quids. Here we are, at the centre of the line, and Dolokhov is yelling insults at the French. Again, it reinforces my opinion of Dolokhov – you probably wouldn’t like him if you met him, but you’d never be bored.
Also, attention should be paid to barefoot Captain Tushin. He will go on to become important (and not just because he put his boots on).