Reading for Friday, 3 April

I must admit, this is probably the first time in War and Peace where I would accuse Leo Tolstoy of starting to become a broken record. He’s trying to argue with the history books again, about why the Russian army moved to a particular spot that led them to victory.

I think maybe also the lack of a map was a bit of a drawback here, because I wasn’t really following so well what was located where.

The most interesting thing I found in this chapter, was actually in one of the endnotes, where it mentioned that the reason the French lost the Russian army was because Kutuzov got two regiments to head in a different direction. The French thought they were the tail end of the main army and followed them for quite a long while before realising that they had lost the army.

Either way, I think it sets the scene that the French didn’t know where the Russians were, and that was quite an advantageous thing for them. We shall read on.


One thought on “One-Year War and Peace 13.1 – More Philosophy

  1. I do see your point here, Matt – but, of course, I cannot bring myself to admit that even one word is out of place in War and Peace, so I am going to do my best to defend Tolstoy for his continual returns to his theme about how history unfolds.

    You see, I think one of the important things to remember here is that, by Tolstoy’s own admission, War and Peace is not a novel – he doesn’t say just what it is, only what it isn’t. But I think it’s basically a mixture of fiction, history and philosophy and, in that sense, I don’t think it’s out of place that Tolstoy keeps returning to his central premise – that is, that history is in fact the product of a massive tide of collected forces, coming together to effect change, rather than a simple chain of events that can be understood individually as the product of this or that cause. So Tolstoy returns to that theme, and illustartesit, or reinforces it, with an increasing number of examples from the history story that he has been telling us.

    So, in that sense, I think it works very well – he’s mounting an argument for how the world unfolds and, yes, that might involve some repetition of hi initial premise … but not so much in the sense of a broken record, but more in the sense of a piece of music in sonata form (sorry – had to use that analogy!!), where themes return, newly developed, newly expressed, played by different instruments.

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