This chapter is more a set-up than anything else – it’s another of those of telescoping chapters – where Tolstoy is in the process of taking us from the big picture to the small minute details.

I think my main comment would be that, for some reason, Denisov seems born to have become a vigilante Russian soldier. While he did his best serving in uniform and working for the generals, it’s this kind of thing – where he gets to be his own man – that he is most suited for.

In fact, the battle with his superiors earlier in the book almost prepare us for why Denisov here is so keen to attack the French by himself, without letting a general get any credit for it.

Finally, introducing Petya Rostov –  in the middle of a war, dressed in uniform on a horse – is a reminder of how epic War and Peace really is. There are those of us who can still remember when Petya was a young boy running around the house with his sisters. If there is any character who has aged the most dramatically over the course of the book, it is Petya.

We’ll see what happens to them tomorrow . . .

3 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 14.4 – Denisov the Marauder

  1. Yes, Petya has indeed grown up – and yet, in some ways, he is still such a boy, as we see in this chapter with his carefully prepared dialogue with Denisov, all of which falls apart in the excitement of being recognised.

    And the picture Tolstoy paints here of Denisov and his comrades, trudging along in the mud and sludge on their rain-drenched horses – Denisov grumpy and out-of-place, the esaul looking at home and almost majestic – was, I thought, tremendously graphic and another example of how well Tolstoy describes these sorts of scenes … as so often before, pointing to little details here and there that all at once make the whole picture so vivid, so recognisable.

  2. I didn’t see that Petya had matured mentally . . . he doesn’t do a thing he’s told, for one thing. But he’s raring to go at all times.

  3. Keep your eye on Petya and his ‘raring to go” attitude when he appears again. It’s been a while since I read the book, but I believe Petya is there for a purpose.

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