Monday, December 19, 2011

Vol I, Part Three, Ch XV: On the Field at Austerlitz

It belatedly occurs to me that Tolstoy's readers (during his lifetime) would have been as familiar with the Battle of Austerlitz and all the rest of them as people in the late 19th century US would have been familiar with the Battles of the Civil War. He writes for them-- there are so many references that have to be explained in footnotes and yet, he also writes for the ages.

p. 276 love the vividness of this glimpse (and the imagery):

... In the emperors' suit there were picked fine young orderly officers, Russian and Austrian, from the guards and infantry regiments. Among them were grooms leading the handsome spare horses of the royalty in embroidered cloths.

As fresh air from the fields suddenly breathes through an open window into a stuffy room, so youth, energy, and certainy of success breathed upon Kutuzov's cheerless staff as these brilliant young men galloped up.

p. 277 Politics! Kutuzov vs the Emperor. Seems an eternal story.

p. 278 Quite extraordinary: Tolstoy's narrative moves into the point of view of a horse:

The sovereign's horse shied at the sudden shout. This horse, who had carried the sovereign at reviews while still in Russia, also carried her rider here, on the field at Austerlitz, enduring the distracted nudges of his left foot, pricked up her ears at the sound of gunshots just as she did on the Field of Mars, understanding neither the meaning of the shots she heard, nor the presence of the emperor Franz's black stallion, nor anything of what her rider said, thought, or felt that day.

No comments:

Post a Comment