Reading for Sunday 28/09 – 5.9
I secretly think that one of the reasons Tolstoy had so many varying characters was that he could shift the way he reported on historical events, just by shifting character. For instance, by using Andrei at the battle of Austerlitz, we got a focus on the mad heroism of it all.
In this chapter, we get a report on some of the intervening battles and events that have transpired out on the field, via the barbed pen of Bilibin. By using this character, Tolstoy gets to retell these events in a rather ludicrous way.
And if Bilibin’s tale is close to what actually happened – ancient generals being put in charge, opening other people’s mail, and the army trying to avoid the old general until the new one could be appointed – well, then, it does all sound rather ludicrous.
For those of you getting confused by all the political back and forth with France, Prussia, etc., I think the main point to realise is that by Prussia surrendering to France, it meant that France was now occupying a country on the border of Russia. Which would be rather ominous for any nation, I think.
Finally, the chapter ends with a ray of hope – little Nikolay’s fever breaks, and we know he will live.