And here we have a follow-up to yesterday’s chapter with Balashov being invited to a very genial supper with Napoleon where he spends the evening hearing how great Napoleon is (granted, we are hearing about this supper via the ever-dry sense of humour of Leo Tolstoy).

Napoleon talks about how great he is, sits down for an after-dinner cup of coffee, and then that’s it – that’s the end of the tie between France and Russia.  The war begins.  There’s something mind-blowing in the fact that something as devastating as a war can really begin with something as harmless as an after-dinner cup of coffee.

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One thought on “One-Year War and Peace 9.7 – A Genial Supper

  1. Yes, it’s a pretty savage irony the way this chapter ends with an almost paranthetical reference to the war beginning, as if it was, at least from Napoleon’s perspective, just a trivial little detail when put alongside the enormity of his greatness.

    As with yesterday’s chapter, I found this one to provide such a believable, recognisable, portrayal of Napoleon’s arrogance and ego – the way, in particular, that it didn’t occur to him, even for a moment, that his crazed outbursts in the morning might be something to be at least a little uneasy about. I guess it’s almost a clinical study in narcissism.

    But it’s that juxtaposition, as you noted, Matt, of a genial after dinner coffee with the beginning of war that is, for me, the most obscene thing of all. But I guess it’s often like that – decisions to go to war, and to put thousands, even millions, of lives on the chopping block, being made from the comfort of an armchair with a coffee at the side, and, no doubt, a nice brandy to steady the nerves aftewards.

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