Monday, December 19, 2011

Vol I, Part Three, Chs XIII-XIV: Details

I love how Tolstoy shows us the horses. p. 267

"Maybe him, or maybe just so," the hussar said, "a night thing. Easy now!" he cried to his horse, who was stirring under him.

Rostov's horse was also restive, stamping its hoof on the frozen ground, listening to the sounds and looking at the fires.

Tolstoy shows us Napoleon's charisma-- without which the whole war itself would have seemed far less interesting:

p. 269

The cries and fires in the enemy camp came from the fact that, while Napoleon's orders were being read to the troops, the emperor himself rode around his bivouacs. The soldiers, seeing the emperor, set fire to bundles of straw and ran after him, showting, "Vive l'empereur!"

p. 270 I loved the vivdiness and strangeness of this:

A soldier in movement is as hemmed in, limited, and borne along by his regiment as a sailor by his ship.

and a little later, same page:

The fog was so thick that, though day was breaking, one could not see ten paces ahead. Bushes looked like enormous trees...

Then, p. 272 we again see Napoleon, this time close up:

... An unbroken see of fog spread below, but at the village of Schlapanitz, on the heights, where Napoleon stood, surrounded by his marshals, it was perfectly light...

We get a marvelous description of him and:

He peered silently at the hills, which seemed to rise up from the sea of fog, and over which Russian troops were moving in the distance, and he listened to the sounds of gunfire in the hollow. On his face, still lean at that time, not a muscle stirred; his glistening eyes were fixed motionlessly on one place. His conjectures turned out to be correct.

Then, p. 273

When the sun had fully emerged from the fog and its dazzling brilliance sprayed over the fields and the fog (it was as if he had only been waiting for that to begin the action), he took the glove from his beautiful white hand, made a sign to the marshals, and gave the order for the action to begin.

These sharply focussed details are exquisite.

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