Reading for Sunday, 21 December
And now, with a turn of characterisation that he does so well, Tolstoy describes the “strategy” meeting between the different generals, and actually succeeds in making us feel a bit sorry for Pfuhl because “he was visibly in despair that the sole chance left him of testing his theory on a vast scale and proving its infallibility to the whole world was slipping away from him.”
Of course, by the end of the meeting in the room, no resolution is reached, and instead, via Prince Andrei’s stream of consciousness, Tolstoy provides us with the theory that there is no great “man of genius” in the world of war – it all comes down to what your men do on the ground.
Then, as another of those Tolstoy throwaway moments, we find out in the last paragraph, that Andrei wants to serve on the front, rather than be on the staff of the Tsar. Things are different now in 1812, than when Andrei first served. In 1805, he really wanted to do heroic things in battle so that he could move himself up the ladder and be regarded as a great man.
Now he has the chance for “greatness” and he’d rather go serve at the front. He seems more content just to get the war over and done with.
Well, that’s my reading of it anyway. Any other thoughts?