No, dear reader, I do not refer to the so-called "force" imagined in Star Wars.
On a more serious note, I began reading Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace a while ago, and love it thus far. Several days ago, I happened to read the following passage (Part II, Chapter XVIII), translated by Constance Garnett:
Following this, a footnote proceeds:"With God's help!" cried Bagration in a resolute, sonorous voice. He turned for one instant to the front line, and swinging his arms a little, with the awkward, lumbering gait of a man always on horseback, he walked forward over the uneven ground. Prince Andrey felt that some unseen force was drawing him forward, and he had a sensation of great happiness.
Having read Tolstoy's latter novel Anna Karenina months ago, which I continue to call one of my favorite novels ever written, I happened to remember the following passage (Part III, Chapter VI), translated by David Magarshack:This was the attack of which Thiers says: "The Russians behaved valiantly and, which is rare in warfare, two bodies of infantry marched resolutely upon each other, neither giving way before the other came up." And Napoleon on St. Helena said: "Some Russian battalions showed intrepidity."
I admit knowing only little of Leo Tolstoy's own beliefs regarding religion and spirituality, other than considering himself very spiritual, skeptic, and open-minded, according to many letters he exchanged with Mahatma Mohandes K. Gandhi. I do remember, however, the thought of William James, in his The Varieties of Religious Experience, reporting of the connection of all souls with a Divine Being, forming one Universal Soul/Mind, somewhat similar to ideas of Cartesian philosophy.Easy as it was to cut the wet, soft grass, it was hard work going up and down the steep slopes of the ravine. But the old man was not in the least troubled by it. Swinging his scythe just as usual, he climbed slowly up the steep slope, taking short, firm steps with his feet shod in large bast shoes, and though his whole body and his loosely hanging trousers below his long shirt shook, he did not miss a single blade of grass or a single mushroom, and went on cracking jokes with the peasants and Levin. Levin, who followed him, often thought that he would certainly fall as he climbed up the steep hillock with his scythe, for it would have normally been hard to reach the top even without a scythe. He felt as if some external force were setting him in motion.
While either serving in one of the most historical wars in history, or cutting grass up a slope with scythes, would such experiences include aide from an external force (or, in James' idea, a connected, but peripheral, force)? Do all experiences necessarily have a guide to them, only we feel them more distinctly sometimes, or do we direct ourselves entirely by our own autonomy? Two vastly disparate occurrences with fictional characters, but guided by the same, equivalently described force. I continue to wonder what Tolstoy intended his readers to think of these passages, both located at the end of their chapters, or did it seem mere coincidence?