This rather caught me by surprise – I’ve always been used to the Books in War and Peace being like little novellas – they all sort of build to a climax of their own before they end.
But here we have nothing, really. There’s no big battle, no one dies or has a cathartic moment. In fact, most of our main characters have gone AWOL for most of this book.
All we have is the French army limping through the Russian countryside, disintegrating. Dave mentioned this in the comments to my last post, but I’ve got to put this up in a post properly as well – here’s a statistical map, showing the size of the French army as they approach and then retreat from Moscow.
Not only is it a great example of poster art, it shows me straight away why the French were so keen to get out of there. If you look really closely, you’ll also notice that what really killed them off is the cold weather – as the temperature dropped lower and lower, more and more of Napoleon’s army died.
Oddly enough, this is very similar to what happened to the German army during World War II, when they invaded Russia.
On a final note, however, the fragmentary unresolved nature of the ending of this Book very much echoes what the French must have felt – that nothing was really resolved, there was no proper ending. Everything is just kind of petering out.
See you for Book 14.