Reading for Friday, 23 January

I haven’t done much background research on this (actually, I haven’t done any), but chapters like these make me wonder whether there were specific historians that Tolstoy was taking a sledgehammer to when he wrote this.

I found it a little bit hard to grasp the details of this chapter (especially when the text refers to a map that I presume was in the originally published version but is nowhere to be seen in my translation), but either way the point is made that this particular battle caught everyone by surprise and that the Russians weren’t expecting it.

The only thing is, I’m a bit confused because at the beginning of the chapter, Tolstoy says that it was obvious to everyone that if the French attacked, they would move closer to losing their army, and if the Russians fought, they would move closer to losing Moscow.  So from there, he reasons that Kutuzov and Napoleon fought with no rational plan.

Really?  I’m sure they must have had something run through their mind.  Oh well . . . we’ll see how it all pans out, I guess.

2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 10.19 – Fact from Fiction

  1. Welcome back, Matt!!

    Yes, I also found this chapter a bit hard to follow, even with the map (which edition are you reading now, Matt? – the map is in Pevear/Volokhonsky and also in Briggs, and of course in the Russian versions, but not, it seems in Garnett or Maude). So I have to admit that I glazed over a bit through this chapter, other than getting the general impression that Tolstoy’s point is that a whole lot of the battle of Borodino happened largely because of misunderstadnings about who was where and when, misunerstandings at the time that have since been reinterpreted by historians as part of a rational, considered plan. I understand that Tolstoy spent a long tim on the actual field where the battle was fought, getting a sense of who was where, what they could and couldn’t see, and found, in doing that, that the official historical account just didn’t make sense.

  2. It was an odd chapter . . .

    But I believe it happened; Napoleon and Kutuzov found they’d relied too much on their generals and it turned out nobody really knew where they were going.

    I once saw a movie called ‘Love is Blind’. There are two blind guys standing on a corner – they don’t know each other and cannot see each other.

    Each senses the presence of the other as someone that might take them across the road.

    So there they are with their canes, fumbling about.

    Finally they take each other’s arm and cross the road together.

    Forgive me if I told you that before. I might of.

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