Reading for Monday, 2 February
This brief chapter (they are starting to get very short, aren’t they? It’s great if you’re as behind as I am) shows an interesting side to the Napoleon story. After a day of swagger, bluster and strategy, we see the “great” general in his tent at night, unable to sleep, and (in a way that must have been most satisfactory to Leo as he scrawled this out in his incomprehensible handwriting) agreeing with Tolstoy that there’s not a lot he’s able to do to influence tomorrow.
When he says, “Do you know, Rapp, what the military art consists in? It is the art of being stronger than the enemy at a given moment. That is all.” he practically echoes Kutuzov and Andrei Bolkonsky.
By the way, on this note, I’ve given some thought to what you’ve been saying, Ian, and yes, you’re correct, I should take back what I said about Tolstoy putting forward a theory where we do nothing at all.
What he is saying is that one man by themselves is not going to influence history and we shouldn’t place trust in the “great men” as being our saviours. Instead, there are only two alternatives – a type of apathetic anarchy (which I apologise for lumping on you, Leo) or a system where we all band together and as a group change the world. (As happens when one army decides to band together and get something done.)
Would that be a more correct reading of things?
We’ll soon see, anyway, because as this chapter so simply puts it at the end of the chapter, “The game had begun.”