Charlotte Reads Classics

Slowly, slowly, she sipped a sentence.

Tag: War and Peace

His version of the battle at Schöngrabern was the usual version of a man who has been in a battle: he tells it as he would have liked it to have been, or as described by someone else, or in a version that just sounds good, anything but the way it really happened.
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

War and Peace: Volume I, Part II


The first war bit. The battles are proving a lot more difficult for me to get the facts straight as I am reading, but I’ll try:

  1. October 1805
  2. Russian army lead by General Kutuzov
  3. Stationed near Braunau, Austria

Prince Andréy Bolkónsky experiences a mixture of diplomatic missions and battles, mixing with various ranks of the Russian army. 

Nicholáy Rostóv is fighting with the Hussars (cavalry) but becomes confused during his first battle and loses touch with the rest of his unit.



Tolstoy seems to set up part ii as the destruction of idealism. The Russian army is often seen to be at war with itself, as generals can’t agree with each other, there is a lack of clear communication, the soldiers steal from one another… All of which serve to contradict the idea of a singular, united army the people at home believe are fighting Napoleon. Both Andréy and Nicholáy are disillusioned by their wartime experiences; there is less heroism than they had thought.

If we could know what’s going to happen after we’re dead not one of us would be scared of dying.
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

We are asleep until we fall in love.
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

War and Peace: Volume I, Part I


The beginning of this book is like arriving at a party late when you don’t know anybody. Interesting to note that Russian names have a lot of variations, as well as a patronym which I don’t think is used in any western cultures. 

The Bolkónskys: Prince Andréy is married to Líza, who is pregnant. He is unhappily married and doesn’t enjoy the social aspects of high society. He has decided to go to war, and visits his father who lives in relative seclusion along with his sister Márya before he leaves.

The Drubetskóys: Mother and son, in financial desperation, despite being seemingly high up in society. The mother is very meddling and uses her connections to get her son Boris a better status in the army.

The Bezúkhovs: Pierre is an illegitimate son of the aging Count, who dies after a series of strokes. To his family’s surprise and displeasure, Pierre is left the Count’s estate and title following his death. Although Pierre was of low social standing (being illegitimate) he was accepted in society. I think he will be used to bridge the gap between classes. He is highly suggestible, and is trying to work out what his occupation will be.

The Rostóvs: Youngest daughter half promised to Boris (i.e. they have promised each other). There is a gap between the older and younger siblings, highlihgting family dynamics.



In a book with such a grand scale, I imagine a continuous theme will be the attempt to understand other people’s motivations, for example the death of Count Bezúkhov brings a focus on death and legacies and how different assumptions of motives can be from reality. This is also shown in part one through the various characters setting off for war, and their reasons for doing so. Which in turn is I guess a broader comment on man’s tendency to go to war and how this gives (or removes) life’s purpose and meaning. The war itself provides a kind of commentary for what was a key issue in Russia during the Napoleonic Wars (I assume!); stick with traditional Russian values, or Westernise.