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War and Peace

Leo Tolstoy

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General Kutuzov

The commander of the Russian forces against Napoleon, Kutuzov is old, fat, and one-eyed—hardly the archetypal image of military leadership. Yet Kutuzov is a brilliant strategist as well as a practiced philosopher of human nature, and Tolstoy’s respect for him is greater than for any other government functionary among the French or Russians—greater even than his respect for the somewhat oblivious Tsar Alexander. Kutuzov is humble and spiritual, in sharp contrast to the vain and self-absorbed Napoleon with his cold use of logic. After the Battle of Borodino, Kutuzov stops at a church procession and kneels in gratitude to a holy icon, demonstrating a humility of which Napoleon certainly would be incapable. Kutuzov is motivated by personal belief rather than the desire for acceptance, which makes his final fall from grace only a minor tragedy for him. Whereas Napoleon is always convinced of being absolutely right, Kutuzov is more realistic and wary about the state of things. He hesitates to declare a Russian victory at Borodino despite the obvious advantages of doing so, partly because the experiences of his long career have proved that reality is always more complex than one initially thinks. Such awareness of the mysteries of existence win Kutuzov our—and Tolstoy’s—approval.

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Wrong answer

by sabinkamalinka, October 22, 2013

I am currently taking Russian Literature- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and I know for a fact that the chronology for War and Peace goes throughout 18th century! You should really consider changing the answer on the War and Peace quiz!

19th century begins in 1800

by tothetin, October 23, 2013

The events of War and Peace begin in 1805 and proceed to around 1812. The century that begins in the year 1800 is referred to as the 19th century.

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Correction to plot summary, Book 12

by keepbabbling, April 27, 2014

"Natasha takes Mary into the room where Andrew is lying, and Mary is shocked to see her brother looking soft and gentle. Mary knows this appearance to be a sign of his approaching death."
Natasha tells Mary there has been a change recently in Andrew, and while Mary expects that means he has become soft and gentle because he is dying, she is shocked to find it is the opposite -- he has become hard and indifferent. His mind has became fixed on the next life and so he no longer has any emotions for anything in the current life.