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View Full Version : How did Tolstoy perceive Napoelon as a military leader?



King James
06-09-2010, 11:31 AM
Well I am currently doing research on Napoleon and need some different perceptions of the man as a military commander. I was aware that Napoleon was mentioned in War and Peace and I'm considering reading it as a part of my research. So can anyone tell me if this will be a worthwhile endeavour and whether if Tolstoy wrote anything with regards to Napoelons capabilities as a general and leader for his men?

ElanorGamgee
07-12-2010, 09:32 PM
I just finished War and Peace today and Tolstoy had much to say about Napoleon, his leadership, and his "genius." (Tolstoy didn't think he was a genius; he used the term in irony.) However, you will have to read a large amount of the book to get to his ideas about Napoleon. Although I enjoyed the journey, if you are interested merely in the opinions of Napoleon (keep in mind War and Peace is a work of fiction--a long work of fiction), concentrate on Books 10 - 14 and Chapters I, II, and VI of the Second Epilogue. The chapters that pertain to Napoleon are usually in the first couple or last couple of chapters in Books 10 -14. In Book 10, I thought Chapters 1, 33, 34, 38, and 39 were illuminating. (I hope I have those numbers right. The links are labeled by books and chapters and the addresses list the chapters consecutively -- Book 10 Chapter 38 is <http://www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/war_and_peace/228/> so that it is difficult to keep track of which book and chapter I am reading. By this system of numbering 316 and 317 are also interesting.)

Pebble
08-17-2010, 10:14 AM
Napoleon is far more than "mentioned" in War and Peace - he is a subject of much meditation by many different characters, and is a very active character himself. In the sections that relate to Napoleon's ill-fated invasion of Russia in 1812, Tolstoy at points drops the novel format to ruminate and philosophize about history, historians, and Napoleon. Certainly read the sections about the battle of Borodino, about Napoleon's preparations for the battle on the 26th of August (but read the whole book too because it is wonderful).

greenberg
11-10-2010, 08:09 PM
If you want a general overview of how Tolstoy feels about Napoleon, read the epilogues. This may ruin the book for you a bit, but this is where Tolstoy often expresses his opinions strongest on Napoleon.

mouseofcards89
11-26-2010, 02:25 PM
Well I am currently doing research on Napoleon and need some different perceptions of the man as a military commander. I was aware that Napoleon was mentioned in War and Peace and I'm considering reading it as a part of my research. So can anyone tell me if this will be a worthwhile endeavour and whether if Tolstoy wrote anything with regards to Napoelons capabilities as a general and leader for his men?

Well, to sum it up for you, Tolstoy saw Napoleon as almost completely inconsequential in terms of either precipitating or being a primary force in the War of 1812. He claims that history can consist of no one solitary cause, but rather an infinite number of interrelated happenings which can be most readily related to gossamer strands. I agree with the above poster in that Tolstoy's perspective towards Napoleon was mainly ironic in the sense that, although he was the Emperor and head of the army, he exercised little actual control over the day to day actions of his men. In committing himself to a campaign against Russia, Napoleon did what was most averse to his own interests, though he had no way of knowing this at the time, certainly. He was a man of his times, allowed to rise to power in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1789.