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.