And here we go, folks, we’ve reached the End of Book 3.  Hasn’t it been an epic stretch, even though it was only 19 chapterS?  If you think back to the beginning of the whole thing, we started with Pierre and his lightning engagement, and here we are at the end of the Battle of Austerlitz . . . Amazingly compact, but quite full writing.

I really liked this chapter, and the way it was written.  Andrei not only gets his great moment of battle, but then he gets to meet his idol, Napoleon.  But the amazing irony of it all – as Andrei lies on death’s door, still with the vast visions of the sky before him, he realises that Napoleon and his little schemes of conquering the world, are really not worth much at all.  It’s amazing to see such a change in perspective from Andrei, albeit at a moment when he’s lying there dying.

But isn’t that always the way?  I remember I once sat in a room at a meeting with two men, both of whom had been through the experience of being diagnosed with cancer, both of them going through chemotherapy.  For them, it was always a bit of a roll of the dice as to how successful the chemo would be, and even if it was successful – they would have to come in every year for the next five years to get checked up, to see if the cancer had come back.

For both of them, being faced with death, made them think differently about life.  It’s one of those days that I won’t forget in a hurry.  And I get very much the same feeling here from Andrei.

Notice, also, as a side note, by subtly referring to the locket Marya gave him, Tolstoy reminds us that Andrei has a sister, a father and a wife – all of whom were hoping that he would make it out of this war alive . . .

So on that very tragic, but very beautiful note – Book 3 ends.


7 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 3.19 – End of Book 3

  1. Yes – the end of Book 3 and, with that, I think we may be about to enter into some new version control problems, unfortunately. In both the Pevear/Volokhonsky and Briggs editions (and in my two Russian editions, for that matter) this is also the end of Volume 1. So in all those editions, we are now about to move onto Volume 2, Part 1, Chapter 1; whereas in Garnett it is Part 4, Chapter 1 and in Maude Book 4, Chapter 1. I think it will remain relatiely easy to follow if people reading the Pevear and Briggs translations know that “Volume 2” means “add another three parts onto the number that Garnett is using”. I guess we’ll just have to see how we go!

    Anyway, onto the Chapter itself. I agree with everything yousay about it Matt – the wonderful way in which Tolstoy places the day-to-day struggles and dreams and vanities of human beings against “the bigger picture”. Just as the fog and mist so dominated the story a few chapters ago, in this chapter, the sky is the undisputed hero. And I find it wonderful, too, the way that at this time of enormous suffering, and near death, for Prince Andrei, amidst all the horrors and tragedies that we have witnessed on the field over the past few chapters, here we find such peace and comfort and consolation.

    And I find here something very poetic when I think back to Marya’s words to Andrei before he left for the war. She said something about how God would save Andrei, even against his will – and in a way it has kind of happened just as she said. He lay, envying Marya her faith, and the consolation it gives her, and then seems to find exactly that same consolation himself, in the infinity of the sky.

    While my own spiritual beliefs are probably a lot less clearly defined than yours, Matt, I cannot help but be moved by the way “the infinite” asserts itself, so gently and yet so powerfully, for Andrei here.

  2. I must admit, I have some personal understanding of Andrei’s spiritual turmoil here. I didn’t comment on it in the blog post, but one of the fascinating things is his agnosticism at this moment.

    He’s not sure if there is anything beyond the sky, he’s not sure what will happen after death – but at the same time, he feels that there is something bigger than human beings.

    The funny thing is, though, is that Andrei is so concerned with things like glory and honour and leading soldiers to victory, that it takes a bullet to make him stop and think about the bigger picture.

    I think we’re a bit like that in life today. It’s very hard to work out really what’s going on in people’s lives spiritually, because – at least in Australia – life is meant to be filled up with all sorts of minutiae, with not really a spare moment to think. Life is also meant to be consumed at a really rapid pace, with no pause.

    What would you think about it you had a moment of pause, dear reader? Would it be a calming thing? A frightening thing? Would you want to contemplate life beyond the everyday and the familiar?

    Great topics for thought . . .

  3. Well I, for one, always find something immensely life-affirming about those moments when there is time and place to contemplate life beyond the eveyday and familiar. I suppose I am more likely to find that place when I look out at the sea or, like Andrei, into the sky, rather than looking, for example, into a passage of the Bible, or sitting in a church. But I sometimes wonder if the experience is all that different in either case – certainly I can feel that incredible experience of communion with something bigger than me. But you’re right – modern life is not typically organised in a way that lends itself to such moments of contemplation.

    On a rather more mundane plane, I am trying to clarify exactly where it is that we are supposed to be up to in W and P. I somehow seem to be a day ahead of you – and that must be because either I read two chapters in one day, perhaps over the weekend when you were away, or else you didn’t read enough chapters to catch up over that period. By my reckoning today’s Chapter (that is, Thursday) is the first chapter of Volume 2, Part 1 (or of Part 4 or of Book 4, whichever version you’re reading)!!

    Where do YOU think we are?????

  4. Matt . . . wasn’t Napoleon ‘Pierre’s’ idol?

    I must have missed something; I didn’t know Andrei was a fan of Napoleon – remember in the beginning when the two – Pierre and Andrei were talking – Pierre was going on about how wonderful Napoleon was – how he didn’t want to join the war because he didn’t want to fight against this marvelous man.

    Andrei didn’t really understand how he felt . . . and he didn’t express any particular admiration for Napoleon at the time.

  5. Hi Carly,

    I can’t remember exactly where I read it, but throughout the book, in various places, Andrei has been a fan of Napoleon. Not in the same way as Pierre – Pierre is more a fan of his politics. But Andrei admires Napoleon because he ignores the small dreams of other men and gets out there and makes things happen. Kind of like Andrei was hoping to do . . .

  6. Matt’s post to me –

    Hi Carly,

    I can’t remember exactly where I read it, but throughout the book, in various places, Andrei has been a fan of Napoleon. Not in the same way as Pierre – Pierre is more a fan of his politics. But Andrei admires Napoleon because he ignores the small dreams of other men and gets out there and makes things happen. Kind of like Andrei was hoping to do . . .


    My post – Oct 13th, 2k8

    Yes, I can see that you’re right . . . now that I’m going over the chapters more thoroughly, I see it right here in the last chapter of book 3 . . .


    Though five minutes before, Prince Andrew had been able to say a few words to the soldiers who were carrying him, now with his eyes fixed straight on Napoleon, he was silent…. So insignificant at that moment seemed to him all the interests that engrossed Napoleon, so mean did his hero himself with his paltry vanity and joy in victory appear, compared to the lofty, equitable, and kindly sky which he had seen and understood, that he could not answer him.


    It’s so upsetting, these last few chapters – we readers feel like we really know these people and identify with them – even Napoleon!
    I’m just having one more read and listen to this chapter, then I’m putting it away . . .

    Aides-De-Camp (2)

    It was Napoleon accompanied by two aides-de-camp.

    French Convoy Officer –

    The first words he heard on coming to his senses were those of a French convoy officer, who said rapidly: “We must halt here: the Emperor will pass here immediately; it will please him to see these gentlemen prisoners.”

    Lannes – Marshall Lannes

    (Maybe mentioned before – dunno’)

    Having said this, Napoleon rode on to meet Marshal Lannes, who, hat in hand, rode up smiling to the Emperor to congratulate him on the victory.

    Larrey – Dr. Larrey – Napoleon’s doctor . . .

    “Have these gentlemen attended to and taken to my bivouac; let my doctor, Larrey, examine their wounds.
    Officer (French)

    “There are so many prisoners today, nearly the whole Russian army, that he is probably tired of them,” said another officer.

    Repnin – Prince Repnin –

    Bolkonski recognized Prince Repnin whom he had met in Petersburg society. Beside him stood a lad of nineteen, also a wounded officer of the Horse Guards.

    Russian Grenadier –

    “Fine men!” remarked Napoleon, looking at a dead Russian grenadier, who, with his face buried in the ground and a blackened nape, lay on his stomach with an already stiffened arm flung wide.

    Sukhtelen –

    “Youth is no hindrance to courage,” muttered Sukhtelen in a failing voice.

    Final count for this chapter?


  7. Well, I’m looking forward to getting back into Book 4 . . . as I said previously, I have read up to the end of Book 7 . . . and I’m about to start listening to Book 8 this week, while doing some yard work.
    I’m not sorry to come to the end of this last chapter – I feel so bad for everyone, all around and do wish that this battle at Austerlitz had ended mankind’s war for all time, but of course, it did not.
    I’ll see y’all at Book 4 – soon!
    If any of you did take the trouble to go back and read over my comments and illustrious character counting, thank you so much for being here.
    Lemme’ know if you want me to return to these posts for any reason – Carly –

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