Reading for Wednesday, June 17

And here we go into the philosphical appendix. This will either be the straw that broke the camel’s back for some readers – who will be happy to just put the book down at this point – or, if you’re like me, you’ve read this far, and you figure you can cope with 12 more chapters. What’s 12 chapters more, out of 365?

Anyway, the basic gist of this whole section is working out what drives history. And Leo begins by talking about what doesn’t drive it. So he gives the big potted overview of the standard history of 1812 (which, I must admit, still sounds pretty similar to what you’d read about today), before pulling it apart.

His main question is that modern historians have trashed the idea of God running the show, but then they put forward specific individuals as the drivers of history.  But what is the power behind those individuals? There are a number of ways you could answer this, and they will all be dealt with in the next chapter . . .

One thought on “One-Year War and Peace E2.1 – What Drives History?

  1. I think probably most people, like me, initially find the second Epilogue a bit daunting when they first read War and Peace. Even with all the philosophical writing that we have had throughout the book so far, these twelve chapters can seem quite a lot at this stage, especially when we nowknow that all the threads of the story have now been tied up – or as tied up as they can be given Tolstoy’s unique style of narrative. But, as with so many other aspects of the book, I found all this analysis of history in the second Epilogue much, much more interesting and fitting this time around – partly because I was ready for it, and partly because this detailed daily commentary in your blog, Matt, has made me see how well it all fits together. And this chapter now comes across to me as a really ideal way to start this relatively long summing up, and consolidation, of all the theories we have had expounded so far. It begins laying the scene for us – giving us the history of history, if you like. It’s the beginning of what will ultimately become, I think, a very cogent, considered, logical argument. Had we not read all that had gone before, even this initial setting down of the foundations would, I think, be less meaningful, less convincing. But because of all we have read so far, we really know where Tolstoy is coming from … which, ultimately, help us believe so much more in where he is going.

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