Well, in the context of the novel, it remains to be seen. This section was easier to grasp than I had anticipated. I think it’s Pevear and Volokhonsky’s translation (one day I’ll be able to spell Volokhonsky without looking it up), but I haven’t read any others to confirm. You can find links to the original post from Reading in Bed and my first post a the bottom of this one.
So poor Dolokhov has been demoted because of the whole aforementioned drunken bear shenanigans. His new uniform is a different color and whatever. I’m not particularly concerned. This wouldn’t have been a problem if you hadn’t been so stupid. And just calm down, could you, Dolokhov?
Do you know what I really love? I can be a bit of a history nerd, so when I found out that Tolstoy used an actual letter from Napoleon, in which Napoleon basically called Murat (the French commander dude) an idiot for thinking that the Austrians/Russians had actually surrendered when they hadn’t even spoken to the emperor, I was thrilled. And well, you know, he wasn’t wrong.
To Prince Murat. Schönbrunn, 25 Brumaire [15 November], 1805, at eight o’clock a.m. It is impossible for me to find words to express to you my displeasure. You command only my vanguard and you do not have the right to make an armistice without my order. You are making me lose the fruits of a campaign. Break the armistice on the spot and march to the enemy. Declare to him that the general who signed this capitulation did not have the right to make it, that only the Emperor of Russia has that right. Any time, however, that the Emperor of Russia will ratify the said convention, I will ratify it; but it is only a trick. March, destroy the Russian army…you are in a position to take their baggage and artillery. The adjutant of the Emperor of Russia is a…Officers are nothing when they have no power: this one has none…The Austrians let themselves be fooled in the crossing of the bridge of Vienna, you are letting yourself be fooled by one of the Emperor’s adjutants. Napoleon.
Even though he hasn’t actually done that much, Andrei’s all like, “Well, I have been wounded [read: scratched], so I obviously need to be rewarded.” His horse was shot, and a bullet grazed Andrei’s arm. Really, the horse should get a medal, but anyway Andrei gets all gussed up to go to town to get recognized for his valor…and no one really cares. He expected to see the emperor, but instead he’s taken to the minister of war, who hasn’t actually seen any combat. Seems legit. Anyway, he’s like, “Well done, boy. But we have bigger fish to fry, and you are a small fish. And, really, you could have done better. So…bye.” Andrei’s all let out, but then he does get to display a little authority when he gets back, sees the army in chaos, yells at some folks, and helps a woman stuck in a wagon, so good for you, Andrei!
But then, we have poor little Nikolai. He’s in way over his head. It’s like he’s 6 feet tall and just walked into the 8-foot end of the pool and doesn’t know how to swim. And really, he’s just a baby. He’s still a minor, and he’s really scared. Nobody really cares about that, though, because everyone else has been through it already. So at the end of the last chapter in Part 2, he’s lying in bed, (not too terribly) wounded and disillusioned with it all.
“Nobody needs me!” thought Rostov. “There’s nobody to help me or pity me. And once I was at home, strong, cheerful, loved.” He sighed and involuntarily groaned as he sighed.
“Ouch, it hurts, eh?” the little soldier asked, waving his shirt over the fire and, not waiting for a reply, he grunted and said: “Quite a few folk got damaged today–awful!”
Rostov was not listening to the soldier. He looked at the snowflakes dancing above the fire and remembered the Russian winter with a warm, bright house, a fluffy fur coat, swift sleighs, a healthy body, and all the love and care of a family. “And why did I come here?” he wondered. (200)
I think he just needs a nice, warm hug.
Little Book Jockey: Check-In #1