Reading for Sunday 8 March

Tolstoy returns to historian mode to deliver a resounding diatribe against the so-called commander-in-chief of Moscow. I don’t know for sure, but it sounds like he must have written his memoirs after the event to explain why he knew what was happening, because Tolstoy just dismantles any excuses he might have had for what happens.

But clearly, R. thought everyone would be happy to stay and fight the French. Clearly, he was in a distinct minority.

However, I think the point is that, it’s not just incompetent (in an amusing sort of way), because of Rastoptchin’s failure to mobilise the town, he was now leaving heaps of stuff behind to be looted and emptying convicts and madmen loose on the streets. Not a good state of affairs . . .

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 11.24 – Rastoptchin

  1. I guess this chapter is yet another example of the insignficance of individuals in shaping the course of history, and how it is really the bigger tide of the masses, and of history itself, that chooses the directions. Rastopchin’s fanatical need to blame others, and to let himself off a hook that he had, at first, imagined would lift him to fame and glory, seems all the more pathetic in the light of this bigger picture and it is, once again, a sobering message to any political leader. And, when put alongside the last few chapters, it becomes in some ways an even more amazig message that Tolstoy seems to be telling us – that when we want to understand the ways in which futures are shaped, we need to look not to our leaders, but to the masses, the drunks on the streets, and the little old ladies who give money to anonymous soldiers.

  2. Matt, if you want to catch up, just do two chapters a day – that’ll bring you in line with where you’re supposed to be – in about 10 days, I’d say.

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