I’m not sure whether the horrendously hot weather here in Sydney today is what makes these chapters more stifling, but it just feels as if it was a hot, horrible summer day when I read this chapter.
And on that horrible day, Napoleon realises he’s losing. The brilliance of this chapter, as general after general asks for reinforcements (none of them admitting that they’re losing, just asking for reinforcements) and the growing realisation that Napoleon has that he’s about to lose are brilliantly drawn.
Did Napoleon really feel like this? I’m not sure. But it’s fascinating that by the end of the chapter, he hasn’t given any decisive order – in fact, he’s not sure what to do (except that he doesn’t want to sacrifice his Old Guard).
The very fact that there’s nothing for him to say at the end, except to turn his horse away from what he’s saying and ride off, tells you everthing you need to know.