Here Tolstoy is trying to show us that Napoleon is just a man like any other man and that this man is not in control of everything – in this case his cold and the time on his watch till the battle starts. And Tolstoy is right, Napoleon was just a man like any other and no man should be worshiped like a God. But to diminish the power men like Napoleon have over people is to allow them to gain power again.
Tolstoy’s thesis breaks down because men will do nothing without leadership. Tolstoy is being a pedant when he says Napoleon shot nobody at Borodino. Napoleon may not have fired a shot, but no shots would have been fired without him. To go further, Christian’s would have no leadership without Christ. Christ does not make man sin or not sin. The same is true of all leaders. I get his point, but don’t buy all
I think there is a contradiction that Tolstoy fails to see in his observation. He claims that the turn of a battle can rest with one man who says “Hurrah” rather than “We’re lost!”, but can’t the same be said for the turn of an army? A Nation? The fact that the French had marched all that way victoriously, while not exclusively Napoleon’s doing, is in large-part his doing.
Tolstoy wrote this novel about 50 years after the events that take place in the novel: a full half-century. This along with the notion that the study of history was a far more inexact art as it is now (which is still mighty inexact) I can’t help but question how he thinks he knows what really happened. Yes, Napoleon is not nearly as responsible for winning as we would think, but I don’t go as far as Tolstoy
More vanity from Napoleon.
We see how tenuous and idiotic royal heredity is with this painting of the boy King of Rome playing at stick and ball with the celestial globe. We also see how dangerous it is to think you can actually conquer the world.
This scene is repeated in another masterpiece, Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’ in the playing with the globe scene. Vain, cruel, egotistic: so-called ‘great men’
Andrei is what we become when we can’t forgive. His cynicism is modern, his view on war in its totality is modern (take no prisoners, kill everyone).
War is the expression of hate we can’t express any other way just as poetic feeling can’t be expressed even with the most beautiful poetry (this is why he remembers Natasha’s story she didn’t feel she could tell right).
Austrian society was designed to hinder youth because it mistrusted young people. Young people want change, Austria did not. Austria was old, the emperor was old, everyone in charge was old, and not till you were at least 40 were you considered almost a responsible adult.
wow, school was really a mill of learning. Even he who was good at school hated its impersonal system, refused to speak at his schools 50th, and can’t remember any of his teachers.
he does address how naive this all is. But he still remembers it as being ideal, he longs for something that never existed, but also for something better than what exists.
he makes his case for the importance of the Jews in Vienna, how they never muddled in the wrong social circles above them, but how they alone (mostly) carried the torch of Austrian fine art and culture. They collected the art, they endowed the theaters, they were benefactor to the artists all while the monarchy was busy hunting and being conservative.
a wonderfully orchestrated city (culture, or lie)
He talks about the great Vienna musicians and how the people saved stage splinters from theaters torn down or wouldn’t leave their seats after the last show. They clung to something designed to be ephemeral. The rest of the world knew it and it was changing but they were not.
Like Tolstoy he talks about the importance of the theater. He tells us the people learned all their social behavior here, how to pronounce, how to walk and enter a room. Yet he does not care about how fake it was, he loved that. Yet he must have known because he talks about that age of security being a house of Cards.
The semi illiterate cook who never once went to the theater or ever saw the actress perform is in tears at news of her death. How much like her Zweig is, though for an idyllic past that he never actually experienced, much as he thought he had .