Reading for Friday, 15 May

For once, I’m not really sure what to say about this chapter. It may be that when Tolstoy was writing this, Kutuzov was not really held in high regard, because most of the chapter is devoted to explaining his actions in the war.

Maybe Kutuzov wasn’t held up that highly by the historians of Tolstoy’s day? Either way, the point here is that Kutuzov was merely helping the Russians to chase the French out, without bothering to waste time on attacking them – after all, they were on the way out. However, the other generals, wanting to be able to say that they conquered this person or other, were wasting their men on minor skirmishes.

However, I like best the picture of the Russian army gradually emptying out as they pass through the Russian countryside. And, unlike the French, who drop out and either die or are taken prisoner, the Russians just fall among fellow countrymen who look after them . . .

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One thought on “One-Year War and Peace 15.4 – Almost Over

  1. Yes, this chapter certainly does seem to be a pretty strenuous defence of Kutuzov – but maybe, too, it is also to some extent a defence of Tolstoy’s philosophies: showing the futility of attempting to intervene too much in a course which a higher order of historical laws has already set in motion.

    For me, the descriptions of the slow, relentless, but profound, depletion of the numbers and energies of either army were very effective in this chapter. Once again it was that epic view – the camera zoomed out again – that Tolstoy has used so much and so well in his descriptions of the war. People and animals, all exhausted, emaciated and dying, limping home from the battlefield: a place where none of them, neither French nor Russian, were ever at home.

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