Monday, October 10, 2005

Tolstoy Time

Hands up all those who will be glad when I finally finish War and Peace!

"Many historians say that the French did not win the battle of Borodino because Napoleon had a cold, and that if he had not had a cold the orders he gave before and during the battle would have been still more full of genius and Russia would have been lost and the face of the world have been changed. To historians who believe that Russia was shaped by the will of one man - Peter the Great- and that France from a republic became an empire and French armies went to Russia at the will of one man- Napoleon- to say that Russia remained a power because Napoleon had a bad cold on the 24th of August may seem logical and convincing.

If it had depended on Napoleon's will to fight or not to fight the battle of Borodino, and if this or that other arrangement depended on his will, then evidently a cold affecting the manifestation of his will might have saved Russia, and consequently the valet who omitted to bring Napoleon his waterproof-boots on the 24th would have been the saviour of Russia."

Book 10, Chapter 28

One thing I like about this book? When Tolstoy writes the historical interludes they often drip with sarcasm and irony.



  1. That's good stuff. I'd read it if it weren't a quarter million pages long!

  2. I too love Tolstoy and have read "War and Peace" several times. It's nice to know someone else appreciates his humor, as so many think of Tostoy as humorless.