Reading for Friday, December 19
Well, hello everyone! Merry Christmas to you all!
I have been on holiday the last few days, and I have barely been able to find a moment’s spare time to sit down and read War and Peace, so I apologise again for the long hiatus. (But maybe you’ve been busy as well?)
I think I’ll just try doing two chapters at a time until I catch up. I should say, that by my count, there were 363 chapters in my version of War and Peace so I always intended that I was going to utilise the two spare days to take Christmas and New Years off. (But as you can see, I’m utilising Christmas Day to catch up . . . Ah well . . .)
In this chapter, we have a long and detailed description of the different points of view regarding what should be done by the Russians to defeat the French. One group says So-And-So should be in charge, another group says we should do nothing, another group says go in all guns blazing, another says the Tsar should lead, another says the Tsar should go back to his palace.
Tolstoy never tells us which point of view he agrees with (possibly the last one?) but there’s a feeling that he’s more enjoying his role now as historian of 1812 (a war of which I’m sure there must have been plenty of historical materials and documents for him to scour when he was writing War and Peace) and is revelling in the level of historical detail which he can cram into his already detailed magnum opus.
But it does serve a purpose – it drives home the multiplicity of motivations and drives, all of which contribute to the flow of history. And, finally, it ends with the “outburst of patriotism” that followed the Tsar’s returning to Moscow and finally letting the army get on with the job of fighting. I can’t quite work out whether Tolstoy is being a bit tongue-in-cheek about the value of the Tsar leaving, but I’ll take him at face value on this one.