Reading for Tuesday 17/12/08
Another day missed! Sorry! Anyway, here we really get our first full-blown Tolstoyesque description of Napoleon. When Balashov gets to meet him, his clothes, his manner are all described. And the steady escalation in this chapter from good-humoured politeness to ranting and raving is quite entertaining in its own way. (Probably not if you were Balashov, though.)
My favourite moment, though, would have to be the little quirky one where Balashov knows he’s supposed to deliver the Tsar’s line about “as long as a single enemy under arms remains on Russian soil” and can’t bring himself to do it – knowing that it will send Napoleon into a worse rage.
Did Napoleon really want peace? I don’t think so. It comes across pretty clearly in this chapter who started what – and yet philosophically, no one really started anything, because everybody’s little choices brought them to this moment, and there is no turning back the clock.