Reading for Tuesday, 20 January

And in this chapter, we get a bit more insight into Kutuzov’s approach to war.  Coincidentally (not), it ties right in with Tolstoy’s view of history.  Kutuzov’s plan is to pretty much just let things happen, neither really stopping anything nor really pushing anything – because he realises that history is driven along by little actions and that nothing he could propose would make much difference to it.

I still think in the real world, this kind of approach would be highly incompetent – but as the history books relate (or at least as War and Peace, which is widely regarded as the best history book on the 1812 wars anyway), Kutuzov’s approach to life turned out to be the best.

We shall see how it all pans out very shortly.

2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 10.16 – Doing Nothing

  1. Yes, I guess this Chapter is one of the most blatant examples yet of Tolstoy using his characters to preach his view of history and, ultimately, of life. I have to admit that that’s something I don’t usually like – when it’s done as openly as here – but, of course, I’m prepared to forgive Tolstoy amost anything because he always seems to do it so well.

    I’m not sure I entirely agree with your assessment of it, though, Matt. I don’t think it’s exactly about sitting back and doing nothing – but rather more about taking time to stop and observe, to learn from the tide of things, and learn how to capture that and be part of guiding its direction. As Andrei notes, “he’ll listen to everything, remember everything, put everything in its place, won’t hinder anything useful or allow anything harmful. He understands there is something stronger and more significant than his will …” So I don’t see this quite as incompetence, nor as any sort of impotence – but more as a sort of humility before the bigger picture. I think he sees himself as the one who puts creates the mosaic out of the millions of little pieces that others have designed and made.

  2. Well, Kutuzov is kinda’ dozey, in that he seems to be just watching the world go by. But it’s better than having a leader all caught up in his egotistic self.
    Why it was decided that he should lead them, I don’t know – never really grasped that. He seems to be suffering – maybe arthritis, dunno’ . . . but he doesn’t strike me as being physically well enough to be leading men into battle.

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