Saturday, August 28, 2010

Volume III, Book I, Chapter IX

I’ll spare you most of this, though like all of this book, it’s a great read. Tolstoy breaks down the factions of the army Andrei is entering into:

Pfuel faction – military theorists, believing there is a theory and practice to war – includes the German princes, and others, “predominately Germans”.

Opposite of Pfuel faction – bold action interested Russian nationalists. Want an advance into Poland and all new plands

Third party – sovereign and all his most trusted, who made deals between the two above parties – mostly non-military like Arakcheev

Grand Duke party – heir to the throne, wounded by Austerlitz, and afraid of Napoleon

Barclay de Tolly party – want Barclay de Tolly in power since Benningsen messed it up in 1807

Benningsenists – Benningsen is the best and he proved it in 1807

Sovereign lovers – basically people who adore the emperor and wish he would just abandon his “excessive distrust of himself” take command of the military

Then there’s this great nugget – “The eighth and largest group of people, which was so enormous it outnumbered the other ninety-nine to one, consisted of people who desired neither peace nor war, neither an offensive movement nor a defensive camp in Drissa, or wherever if might be, neither Barcaly not he sovereign, neither Pfuel nor Bennignsen, but who desired only one thing, that that most essential: the greatest benefit and pleasure for themselves.”

So, when Andrei is arriving a new party is forming, one that believes that having the sovereign around is a bad idea, since everyone is worried more about how they can help him and pleasing him than winning the war. So they convince him, under the guise of “inspiring the people”, to go back to Mosow. And he leaves, not in charge of the army (which Napoleon mentioned was a bad idea earlier anyhow).

This chapter is great illustrating how the distance of history can make things so much clearer. I’m sure in 1812 this wasn’t as clear, but Tolstoy has cut through it. There’s a little comedy from distance so far, and the tone definitely points out the ridiculous in it.

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