Finally caught up . . . sorry, didn’t get a chance to post yesterday, so that’s why yesterday’s post didn’t go up till midday.

These chapters, which are somewhat shorter, are more little vignettes of what is going on in the lead-up to the battle of Austerlitz, which Tolstoy is already warning us is just around the corner.  I suppose the thing that I’m noticing here is that the mood before the battle is much different than the one at Schöngraben.  In Book 2, the soldiers were pensive, feeling the dreadful weight of the unknown.  Would they face death?  What would it be like?

But now that they’ve survived a battle and – much more importantly – now that Alexander is there to inspire them on – they can’t wait to get in the action.  You can sense the excitement in the air, when a bunch of Russians up the front come back with their French prisoners.  (That means, by the way, if you’re keeping up with Nikolai’s horse count, that I think he now has two horses.  Little Rook got done in Book 2.  He got his new one which he’s been riding, and now he’s just bought one from the captive Alsatian.  Is my maths right on this one, or did I miss something?)

Anyway, you can all dream of the Tsar tonight, and I’ll see you all tomorrow . . .

4 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 3.10 – Champing at the Bit

  1. While maths is far from my strong point, I get the same tally as you, Matt, when it comes to Nikolai’s horses – the horse he bought from Denisov, and now this one. I kind of feel for the captive Alsation who was forced to sell him – he seemed so fond of him, and I love those little moments of humanity and tenderness which Tolstoy gives even to these most insignificant, transitory characters.

    But I think the moment that impressed me the most in this chapter was when Alexander comes across the dying soldier at the town square at Wischau. There is so much pathos in that scene – the Tsar pleading with them to be more gentle with this nameless, dying man, his eyes filling with tears, and then those simple words that say it all, “What a horrible thing war is!” It’s a powerful juxtaposition to all the excitement and fervour of the troops!

  2. You’re right about the humanity of the dying soldier, but I also read that scene with a bit more of a sharper edge – as if Tolstoy is hinting that this Tsar is actually a bit soft, but no one realises it.

    The battle-hardened soldiers barely notice one wounded soldier, but Alexander is all upset about it. I felt that Tolstoy was gently pointing out that, despite all the fervour and adoration that he gets, really, the Tsar doesn’t have the stomach for war.

    This is also confirmed a bit, I believe, by the next chapter, but we can debate that tomorrow.

  3. Well, the prisoner wouldn’t have been able to look after his horse anyway and wouldn’t expect his captives to feed his horse as well as him.

    So, he had no choice . . . Rustov, in a way, did him a favour. At least the poor man has the comfort that his dear horse, of which he’s fond, is being looked after.

    Yes – Nicky now has two horses . . . I’m wondering what he has in mind – collecting horses? Maybe he’s going to go ‘into business’ when the war is over?

    Alexander surprises me by being taken aback at seeing the wounded – is he not an experienced leader in war? Seems to me if he’d had a lot of experience, this wouldn’t have surprised him, wouldn’t have upset him so much. One would think he’d be hardened to it by now.

    Yes, Tolstov was warning of this battle looming in the near future . . . seeing as how I have read to the end of the book, I’ll say nothing else.

    But I will say this . . . they certainly find out that war is no ‘game’ . . . it isn’t a football match – there’s a possibility they can get killed!

  4. Cossacks (2) –

    “There! They are bringing another!” cried one of the officers, indicating a captive French dragoon who was being brought in on foot by two Cossacks.

    Czartoryski –

    Rostov saw tears filling the Emperor’s eyes and heard him, as he was riding away, say to Czartoryski: “What a terrible thing war is: what a terrible thing! Quelle terrible chose que la guerre!”

    French Dragoon – Captive

    “There! They are bringing another!” cried one of the officers, indicating a captive French dragoon who was being brought in on foot by two Cossacks.

    Officer –

    “There! They are bringing another!” cried one of the officers, indicating a captive French dragoon who was being brought in on foot by two Cossacks.

    Soldier – A dead one

    The Emperor, surrounded by his suite of officers and courtiers, was riding a bobtailed chestnut mare, a different one from that which he had ridden at the review, and bending to one side he gracefully held a gold lorgnette to his eyes and looked at a soldier who lay prone, with blood on his uncovered head.

    Vanguard –

    The Emperor’s gratitude was announced to the vanguard, rewards were promised, and the men received a double ration of vodka.


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